Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia’s troll factory also paid for 100 activists in the US

This is one of those times where it is really useful to check the original Russian article.

Right away we have three very relevant new disclosures

  1. Glavnets, the Troll Factory, hired up to 100 activists to work inside the US
  2. Glavnets paid for approximately 40 rallies held inside the US
  3. Glavnets spent $2.3 million on the overall anti-US program

Another chart pops up and it identifies details previously unseen.

The following new tags are in this chart. I’m not sure how they’re divided.

  1. Blacktivist, Don’t Shoot, BM, Brown Power, Woke Blacks, Williams&Kalvin, Pan-African Roots Move, Black4Black, Nefertiti’s Community, Pamela_Moore13, Crystal1Johnson, USAGunslinger, SincerelyBlack, Afrokingdom_, _black_business
  2. Heart of Texas, Being Patriotic, Army of Jesus, Stop All Invaders, South United, Secured Borders, Defend the Second, Veterans Come First, Born Liberal, Stand For Freedom, Angry Eagle TEN_GOP, Eleven_GOP, TPartyNews, Rainbow_National_us, MexicanFury, Army_of_jesus
  3. United Muslims Of America, LGBT United, Black_Baptist_Church, Muslims_in_USA, lgbtunited, LGBTuni, WeWantFreedomNY, Feminism_ tag, Muslim_Voice, Native_Americans_united
  4. Back the Badge, Watch The Police, Jeblary2016, MissouriNewsUS, ForceOfLiberty, NewYorkDem, GlobalFoe, Pray4Police, _anonymous_news_, Watch.the.police, Back.the.badge

Stay tuned, things are unraveling, quickly, for Russia, especially the troll farm.

</end editorial>

Russia’s troll factory also paid for 100 activists in the US

Russian independent media are having an impressive week in exposing how the country’s government allegedly tried to influence the US 2016 elections using online trolls.

On Monday (Oct. 16), a man going under the pseudonym Maksim told TV Rain (paywall) that he was paid to post negative comments on Facebook and sites like the New York Times about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and to stoke America’s internal divisions on religion and LGBTQ rights. He was working for the “Internet Research Agency,” a company in St Petersburg, which is believed to have done work spreading political messages and trolling on the Kremlin’s behalf.

Today, business site RBC revealed the numbers that allegedly made the company work. It reports (link in Russian) that over two years the agency spent $2.3 million on its US operations. Most of that was spent on Russian staff—around 90 employees (link in Russian) were working on the US at the height of the trolling campaign in 2016—but it also paid for 100 US activists to travel around America, organizing 40 rallies in US cities, and spent $120,000 spreading their message on Facebook. (The Silicon Valley giant has admitted that thousands of ads were bought under Russian IP addresses during the campaign.) The 100 activists didn’t suspect any Russian involvement in the funding, RBC reports.

Data Number
Total US operation expenses $2.3 million
Staff working on US campaign up to 90 people
Number of US social media accounts/communities At least 118
Total subscribers More than 6 million
Most page views in a week 70 million (October 2016)
American activists supported 100
Rallies held in US cities 40
Budget to support US activists Approx. $80,000 over two years
Budget for social media promotion Approx. $120,000 over two years

The trolls produced content aimed at riling both the left and right—for example, pushing Texan independence and religious evangelism at the same time as African-American and LGBTQ rights. Those writing the content earned around 55,000 rubles per month (approx. $1,000), while administrators made 80,000-90,000 rubles, and managers took home 120,000 (around $2,100). RBC reports that the factory still has a US desk, but its employees now number around 50.



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