More Russian fakery
Russian troll factory the Internet Research Agency has moved into bigger premises in St Petersburg. These are clearly busy times for the company, which previously occupied 4,000 square meters in the city’s north-western suburbs but has now expanded to an impressive 12,000 square meters in the Lakhta business district.
What's this all about?
The agency, reportedly operated by Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, deploys fake accounts on leading social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, media sites and video hosting platforms to disseminate fake news across the world.
What does it mean?
Yesterday, NBC News published a database of 200,000 tweets created by Russian troll accounts during the 2016 election that were deleted by Twitter after the social network tied them to malicious activity. Those posting the messages posed as political activists on both sides of the political spectrum.
Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, this week told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “there should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations”.
He added, "We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen, and other means of influence to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States."
Twitter has identified thousands of social media accounts associated with the IRA and announced last year that it planned to notify 700,000 people in the US that they either followed a Kremlin-linked account, or retweeted/liked tweets sent by one of the accounts.
And new analysis conducted by Buzzfeed suggests that Russian trolls posed as black activists on Tumblr to disseminate political messages prior to the US presidential election, while researchers were able to tie the content to the IRA. The agency uses Tumblr to target predominantly teenage and 20-something African Americans with often contradictory messages to create confusion and uncertainty ahead of voting day. Posts often linked to Blackmattersus.com website, a known IRA online property.