When the complete book on Putin’s meddling in the 2016 American election is written, there will likely be a chapter on his troll factories. Surprisingly, it was a Russian news agency that broke this story, tying the operation to one of Putin’s pet oligarchs.
Recently revealed details about how an infamous Russian “troll farm” operated and its role in Russia’s disinformation campaign shed new light on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential race.
One former troll, who was interviewed by the independent Russian news outlet Dozhd and went by “Maxim,” or Max, spoke of his experience working for the Internet Research Agency, awell-researched Russian company in St. Petersburg whose function is to spread pro-Russian propaganda and sow political discord in nations perceived as hostile to Russia.
The secretive firm is bankrolled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, CNN reported, a Russian oligarch who is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.
Up to a third of the company’s staff was tasked with interfering in US political conversation during the 2016 election, according to an investigation conducted by the Russian news agency RBC and detailed by another Russian news outlet, Meduza.
They didn’t stop at spreading disinformation across social media, they hired duped activists to organize political rallies.
In addition to spreading fake news, Russian Facebook accounts went one step further by organizing events, rallies, and protests, some of which galvanized dozens of people. To be sure, RBC found that the Internet Research Agency hired 100 American activists over the internet to hold 40 rallies across different US cities. Those people did not know they were working for a Russian organization, according to the investigation.