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It’s called war hybrid led by Putin’s Russia, and among its weapons are the armies of trolls who work on social networks. The mission of these fake accounts on Twitter, Facebook, TelegramTickTock, Instagram ou YouTube : to deliver narrative elements going in the direction wanted by the Kremlin. Regardless of the credibility of the publications, the idea is to generate background noise that will help instil the doubt.
With the war in Ukraine, so-called “troll farms” are running at full speed. The buildings of these “farms” belonging to the Internet Research Agency, Futura had already seen them in Saint Petersburg in Russia at the end of 2019. They had already been working since 2014 to support the war in the Donbass and the annexation of Crimea by the Russia. These trolls have also been found at the helm in just about every major election, whether in United States in 2016, in France for the 2017 presidential elections, or in other countries of the European Union. Deprived of platforms like RT or Sputnik which allowed them to sneakily feed their publications, they are now forced to attack their targets more frontally. More specifically, trolls no longer really create content, but respond to posts in comments. A technique that allows them to pass under the radar of the detection of fake news by social networks. Today, their favorite subject is obviously the war in Ukraine, called a special military operation in Russia. According to information collected by the british governmentthey would benefit from a new infrastructure located in a former factory, still in Saint Petersburg.
Metal band Rammstein targeted by Russian trolls
Trolls are said to be very active on Telegram. On this playing field, they would come to recruit people won over to their discourse to set up offensives on the accounts of the social networks most critical of the Kremlin. The accounts of Western leaders would be very impacted by their propaganda in favor of the war in Ukraine. As prime targets, we thus find Josep Borell, the representative of the diplomacy of the European Union, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, or even Olaf Scholz the German chancellor. These trolls also seek to influence as many people as possible in unexpected places. This is particularly the case on the social network accounts of musicians and groups such as Rammstein, David Guetta, or Daft Punk.
With experience, troll farms operate more discreetly. To hide their origins, the accounts use for example des VPN. This does not prevent them from being able to identify them by the propagation of their attempts at influence, but you have to look for them in the comments. The United Kingdom has also created a government information unit (GIC) to counter this disinformation Russian. In coordination with social networks, these experts are now seeking to make it more efficient and rapid to remove Russian disinformation from these troll accounts to reduce their background noise to nothing.
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