“..to Make Simple People Change Their Vote..”. Inside the Russian Troll Machine

January 8, 2017

Above, best coverage of the most significant development in the 2016 election was from the Comedy Channel.

You wonder how it is that any news about climate is immediately swarmed by vicious clouds of trolls?

Below – dated from April 2015. Obviously relevant.


Just after 9pm each day, a long line of workers files out of 55 Savushkina Street, a modern four-storey office complex with a small sign outside that reads “Business centre”. Having spent 12 hours in the building, the workers are replaced by another large group, who will work through the night.

The nondescript building has been identified as the headquarters of Russia’s “troll army”, where hundreds of paid bloggers work round the clock to flood Russian internet forums, social networks and the comments sections of western publications with remarks praising the president, Vladimir Putin, and raging at the depravity and injustice of the west.

The Guardian spoke to two former employees of the troll enterprise, one of whom was in a department running fake blogs on the social network LiveJournal, and one who was part of a team that spammed municipal chat forums around Russia with pro-Kremlin posts. Both said they were employed unofficially and paid cash-in-hand.

They painted a picture of a work environment that was humourless and draconian, with fines for being a few minutes late or not reaching the required number of posts each day. Trolls worked in rooms of about 20 people, each controlled by three editors, who would check posts and impose fines if they found the words had been cut and pasted, or were ideologically deviant.

The LiveJournal blogger, who spent two months working at the centre until mid-March, said she was paid 45,000 roubles (£520, $790) a month, to run a number of accounts on the site. There was no contract – the only document she signed was a non-disclosure form. She was ordered not to tell her friends about the job, nor to add any of them to the social media accounts she would run under pseudonyms.

“We had to write ‘ordinary posts’, about making cakes or music tracks we liked, but then every now and then throw in a political post about how the Kiev government is fascist, or that sort of thing,” she said.

Scrolling through one of the LiveJournal accounts she ran, the pattern is clear. There are posts about “Europe’s 20 most beautiful castles” and “signs that show you are dating the wrong girl”, interspersed with political posts about Ukraine or suggesting that the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is corrupt.

Instructions for the political posts would come in “technical tasks” that the trolls received each morning, while the non-political posts had to be thought up personally.

“The scariest thing is when you talk to your friends and they are repeating the same things you saw in the technical tasks, and you realise that all this is having an effect,” the former worker said.

Marat, 40, worked in a different department, where employees went methodically through chat forums in various cities, leaving posts.

“First thing in the morning, we’d come in, turn on a proxy server to hide our real location, and then read the technical tasks we had been sent,” he said.

The trolls worked in teams of three. The first one would leave a complaint about some problem or other, or simply post a link, then the other two would wade in, using links to articles on Kremlin-friendly websites and “comedy” photographs lampooning western or Ukrainian leaders with abusive captions.


48 Responses to ““..to Make Simple People Change Their Vote..”. Inside the Russian Troll Machine”

  1. vierotchka, I’m surprised this person isn’t in here declaring this all lies for the perfect Russia that exists only in his mind.

  2. vierotchka Says:

    Elite Russian hackers hell-bent on influencing the US presidential election…

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Jeffrey did it! Nice job! Poked a stick under the bridge and woke up our resident Russian troll—Vierotchka—-and now she’s clogging up the thread with links from her Russian Troll Manual and trying to keep us from looking at this excellent and informative post from Peter.

    And doesn’t Darling V look good in the pic of the “elite Russian hackers”? That’s her on the far left in the carefully color-coordinated outfit (and note how “racy” her skirt length is—-showing some support stocking clad knee there!)

    • vierotchka Says:

      I must demand your pleasing chin! How it passes there and back again like a leopard searching for its misplaced frontal lobes.

      • dumboldguy Says:


        • dumboldguy Says:

          PS Forgot to say before Darling V bored me into numbness that the Comedy Central clip is one of the best ever. It should be played often on Crock as the Trump Catastrophe unfolds over the coming months.

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        I must demand your pleasing chin…searching for its misplaced frontal lobes.

        At least Charles Lutwidge Dodgson mangled language with aplomb and to pleasing effect. You not so much ‘snicker-snack’.

        • vierotchka Says:

          I would beg to see your arms raised in calcification towards the expanding horizon as the minutemen stand before me with their phallic gums aimed and loaded..

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Dearest V has been into the vodka again. Still trying to distract us from the Russian trolling, and making no sense at all.

            And the craziness does not stop with her. Take a trip through the looking glass with “America’s (crazy) Mayor” and the stooges at Faux News. Not to worry, America, the hacking is all Obama’s fault, and once Trump has his “own people” reexamine the hacking (and whitewash it), we can all get back to Making America Great Again (by destroying it).

  4. Tom Bates Says:

    Why not read the novel the CIA wrote for public consumption. https://www.scribd.com/document/335890820/ICA-2017-01ly off You notice not a shred of evidence is actually offered. These are the same people who gave us WMD in Iraq so Bush Jr. had an excuse to invade hoping to steal the oil.
    Kennedy did the same thing in Vietnam to look good for the 1964 elections the supposed attack on a navy ship was a total lie. When Reagan decided he did not like a communist government in Afghanistan, he had the CIA make up a report that the Taliban were our friends, that did not work out very well.

    Why not look at the results, As a result of the hacking Hillary and the DNC were exposed for the slime they are and were. They stole the election primary before the first primary ever was held. Sanders never stood a chance.

    You call that an attack on democracy? I call it a saving of democracy just like the expose of Nixon’s tapes.

    The lies have to stop if our democracy is to survive and flourish. We need hackers to expose the politicians for the liars they are even if that makes you uncomfortable.

    • Jim Housman Says:

      It was certainly a brilliant coup by Trump to compare the CIA credibility on Russian hacking with the Iraq WMD story. The credibility of the CIA with the public, never very high, may have suffered permanent damage.

      However there now seems to be pretty strong evidence that the CIA findings on Iraq were systematically “doctored” by Bush administration officials to support pre-determined conclusions.

      The problem is that now we don’t really know if we can trust anything they say.

      It’s a no-win for the CIA. If they accuse political actors of lying they then become part of the political arena. If they stay quiet, as they did in 2002, they are considered incompetent when their “adjusted” findings are proven wrong.

      • Watching Rachel Maddow Friday night, I remember she made a point that Seymour Hersh had explained the intelligence failed on the weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration was unhappy with the information they were getting from their intelligence agencies, and they felt the the agencies were holding back information. So they created a stovepipe that bypassed all the filters.

        But those filters were there for a reason. They involved checking and rechecking information before sending it up the chain of command. The problem wasn’t the intelligence agencies. The problem was the stovepipe. The fault didn’t lie with the agencies. The fault lay with the administration that decided the agencies weren’t delivering the conclusions they should be delivering. Which is a little like an administration that doesn’t like the conclusions it’s getting from the intelligence agencies doing a trial balloon of giving US Intelligence a lobotomy. (Fortunately they did a full-speed backpedal on that the following day.)

        Anyway, here is a link to the article by Hersh:


        • otter17 Says:

          Very right, and I recall interviews with CIA analysts in those years that covered the administration officials nudging analysts to get them information on WMDs. If I remember right, one had claimed that Dick Cheney made the unprecedented move to actually go to CIA offices to check on the progress of developing a case.

    • The lies have to stop if our democracy is to survive and flourish. We need hackers to expose the politicians for the liars they are even if that makes you uncomfortable.

      Oh dear, climate DENIER Mr. Bates 👈😂 is evidently one who is ‘uncomfortable’ at the exposure of the Russian trolls who spewed propaganda in order to elect Putin’s favored candidate.

      Mr. Bates, it is quite possible that we will have no ‘democracy’ after Trump. If that should happen, we have 1 Party [yours] to blame for putting party over country and electing a demagogue.

    • After the full Iraq report was released, the RAND Corporation issued a report stating that the CIA assessment “contained several qualifiers that were dropped as the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively.”

      Other than obvious rational motives for the Russian oligarchs to undermine or avoid a Clinton administration, there is way beyond a shred of technical evidence than what’s included in the CIA/FBI attribution report.


      • webej Says:

        There’s nothing in there that proves anything other than that there is a lot of (attempted) hacking going on. But we’ve known that for years — even stand alone printers are hacked thousands of times a day with attempts to insert code via long out-dated LPR daemon vulnerability.
        The parties listed are not linked to the Russian government, only to Russian actors or routers. All the methods are employed routinely by hackers, and the code snippet is commercially available on a Ukrainian server (and is an old version). All the information is general stuff about internet threats and mitigation strategies. The JAR proves absolutely nothing with respect to the DNC leak/hack or the level of involvement by Russian state actors.

      • It is also worth noting that according to the Guardian, by tapping into data being transmitted to Russia, British Intelligence reportedly detected the hacking of the DNC by Moscow fairly early on. They notified US Intelligence.

        Furthermore, they were alarmed by the number of contacts between members of Trump’s team and Moscow. So perhaps someone should ask the Trump team what all that was about. Having them answer questions in this vein under oath might be wise.

        Please see “UK intelligence gave US key tipoff about Russian hacking, report says”, Julian Borger, 7 Jan 2017, Guardian (UK)

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      ” These are the same people who gave us WMD in Iraq ”

      Bullshit. learn some history.

  5. Speaking of the damn Russian trolls, they are all over the comments section at WAPO on the Assange/Wikileaks/Twitter story. They are also very obvious, much like the resident Russian troll here, vierotchka.


    • webej Says:

      Introducing a footprint on the internet (trolls) is a tactic that numerous arms of US military/intelligence agencies have employed for years, and has been documented many times, including by inside sources, as well as by policy statements made publicy by officials. Russians did not invent this kind of trolling, the Americans and British have a decade head start.
      Agencies like the CIA have been using newspapers and journalists to plant stories for decades, and this is well documented in books, articles, TV specials, as well as in Senate hearings (!).

      • They use many techniques.
        I first found out about the US and UK and Nazi tie in’s with the Moslem Brotherhood from the 1930’s which was used as the foundation for several terrorist organisations and was the foundation that Al Qieda was built up from – trained and equipped by Western Agencies to force Russia out of Afghanistan backin the 80’s, in 1998. At that time a Google search provided maybe a dozen results all solid articles with good references.
        A couple of years later, try the same search and thousands of fluff articles and links, thus concealing the solid information and links by flooding it.

        • webej Says:

          Yes, few people realize that Qaeda refers to the (data) Base which the CIA used to keep track of various jihadi assets they were keeping track of.

    • Vierotchka: You seem to be this super patriot. Are you going to hunt us down personally for having dare criticize your beloved country. One of those postings I put out was from your favorite source Russian Times. You called me a liar for having posted it. It seems you are blind with your own loyalty. Those people can be quite unreasonable in their loving loyalty to their country.

    • mbrysonb Says:

      Bad advice from the centrist press. Trump certainly didn’t win by ‘toning down the snark’. The swing voters made the difference- and what moves them are many different, small things– a little misogyny, a little racial resentment, a little bit of cupidity over big (but silly) promises, and much more. Trump is historically unpopular for a PEOTUS– it’s time to make him wear that, along with every lie he told and is telling and will tell.

  6. ubrew12 Says:

    As has been well reported here on Climate Crocks, Russia is a petrostate. They have nothing to offer the rest of the World once the Carbon Bubble pops. So, of course they are state-funding climate disinformation wherever they can. Physics cannot yield. You would think a Russian would know that. So, the bubble is going to pop anyway, and the ‘best and brightest’ of Russians trying to hack other peoples Democracies will find themselves on the receiving end of the World’s largest market-based b8*9tch-slapping. There’s not much else to say. Russian’s have bought into ‘last-man-standing’ ethics. Putin is positioning himself so that when the bubble pops, HE will be the ‘last man standing’.

    The rest of Russia? Fertilizer.

    Say ‘winner take ALL’ in Russian for me, comrades.

  7. webej Says:

    Here’s a question to consider:

    How did the “bad actors” know they would hit absolute pay dirt by listening in on Podesta and the DNC? They didn’t need to go to great lengths to construct persuasive narratives, etcetc, or parse the entire contents of the NSA snooping respositories, they just had the sheer luck of hitting pay dirt with unaltered true messages left loitering about by untidy Dems.

  8. webej Says:

    Don’t know why Trump is being upbraided for not submitting to the authority of the intelligence community. There is already a precedent for this in living memory, e.g., BILL CLINTON. When Frank Eugene Corder crashed a plane onto the White House lawn in 1994, the running gag in Washington was that the pilot was [then CIA director] Jim Woolsey, trying to get a meeting with the president. It was common knowledge that Clinton was completely uninterested in meetings and briefings with the CIA. In fact, Clinton stated in an interview that he could pick up more from reading the NY Times or the Washington Post for 15 minuntes than from so-called intelligence briefings.

  9. florasforum Says:

    Samantha Bee? LOL.

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