Information operations · Information Warfare

How to Spot a Russian Troll

This article is about as shallow as it can get, short on details, has no examples, and is a shining example of a sales pitch for a book. 

This article seeks to capitalize the recent release of over 3,500 paid ads by Facebook, but it fails to satisfy the “so what” test. After reading it, I am grossly underwhelmed. 

Discussions of how to recognize Russian trolls continue on all social media sights, recognizing them is different for each. Verification practices, proving a person is who they say they are differs widely per site, as well.  At some sites, it is impossible to prove a person’s real identity, unless more social media sites are urged or incentivized to do so.

Time should be ashamed of publishing such a pitiful article.  Two authors collaborated on this one article, yet it would take a college intern about 10 minutes to type up the whole thing, even entirely using a smart-phone and having fat fingers.

Bottom line, don’t take news source articles for face value and don’t expect respected news sources to publish better articles.  

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Updated: May 11, 2018 11:42 PM ET

Spreading false information as a military strategy dates back to the Cold War, when so-called Spetzpropaganda was used as a tactic to confuse and destabilize opponents. Today the job is even easier thanks to the Internet, and Russia continues to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in the American government to add to a general feeling of chaos and unrest in the U.S.

How can American citizens and civic-minded individuals recognize trolls? What should be done to prevent attacks on US democracy? In this video, TIME spoke to political activists who have been duped by trolls, cyber warfare experts and Russian trolls themselves to gain insight into how the U.S. election season was infiltrated.

David Patrikarakos, author of War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century, says that recognizing trolls is becoming increasingly difficult, as propaganda efforts become more sophisticated.

But he also offers a few important signs for spotting a troll social media account:

They have very few followers on social media accounts. They would tweet pro-Kremlin stuff in very poor English. They tend to be female, they tend to be stridently pro Trump and very stridently pro Kremlin. They tend to tweet certain types of articles repeatedly, they tend to tweet at prominent journalists.



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