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Leaked Correspondence Shows Agencys Trolling

Published: June 4, 2014 (Issue # 1814)




  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anonymous International last week uploaded hacked correspondence alleged to be between employees and their superiors at the Internet Research Agency, a secretive company based in the village of Olgino near St. Petersburg, which revealed its extensive pro-Kremlin activities on the Internet.

The correspondence showed that paid bloggers and commenters have been heavily used to infiltrate the Internet forums of Western media outlets and blogs, even posing as Westerners despite their writing hinting at their Russian background. It also showed increased activity during Russias annexation of Crimea in March and the pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine.

The Western media has expressed concern about pro-Kremlin commentators. In April, The Guardian newspaper ran a commentary by its readers editor Chris Elliott, called The readers editor on pro-Russia trolling below the line on Ukraine stories, where he said that Guardian moderators, who deal with 40,000 comments a day, believed there was an orchestrated, pro-Kremlin campaign going on in the newspapers comments section.

This kind of phenomenon has been well known and documented in Russia since 2005, when the Kremlin reacted to the victory of the then Maidan protests in Kiev against the flawed presidential election. Dubbed the Orange Revolution, it led to a revote and the defeat of the Kremlin-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovych. Back then, Vladislav Surkov, dubbed the Kremlins grey cardinal by Western media outlets, met with Russian rock musicians in an apparent questioning of their loyalty, a number pro-Kremlin youth movements such as Nashi were launched and extensive work on the Internet began. Groups of paid bloggers were created in order to flood the Internet with pro-Kremlin and anti-American comments as well as to harass the critics of President Vladimir Putin by posting hateful comments and offensive, and often pornographic, images.

However, in the last few years, these paid bloggers have moved on to the international media and blogs.

The thousands of letters recently posted by Anonymous International contained instructions on how to behave on foreign forums and social networks, and how to plan campaigns and indoctrinate Western readers. The correspondence also contained passport scans of the employees and CVs, with at least one of them being a Russian living in Germany. In addition, it showed that a number of employers were hired in April after the military conflict in Ukraine had started.

One letter contained a task of creating 50 fake accounts on Facebook for posting pro-Kremlin and anti-American comments.

According to the MR7.ru website, the Internet Research Agency employs 300 people who write 100 comments a day each, mostly in Russian but also in English and Ukrainian, resulting in 30,000 postings daily.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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