Did you ever hear the one about the Colombian Chemicals factory in Centerville, Ala., blown up by ISIS terrorists on Sept. 11? Possibly not–because it did not happen.
The Colombian Chemicals fake is an example of the Russian government’s determination to get into the heads of Americans through the deployment of an army of hundreds so-called “trolls,” who prowl the Internet to spread disinformation and attack those who are deemed enemies of the Kremlin. Creating the hoax involved setting up fake Twitter accounts, commentary in Arabic claiming ISIS involvement, and fake Louisiana TV images on YouTube. For a few moments it had local people severely rattled. Continue reading
Lyuda Savchuk, a single mother with two children, worked in the St. Petersburg “troll factory” until mid-March. The 34-year-old journalist said she had some idea of the Orwellian universe she was entering when she took the job, but underestimated its intensity and scope.”I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale,” she said in an interview in her apartment, which has colorful drawings on the walls for her two preschool-age children.
She described how the trolls manage several social media accounts under different nicknames, such as koka-kola23, green_margo and Funornotfun. Those in her department had to bash out 160 blog posts during a 12-hour shift. Trolls in other departments flooded the Internet with doctored images and pro-Putin commentary on news stories that crop up on Russian and Western news portals. Continue reading