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Meta chased hundreds of Russian trolls paid to manipulate public opinion from Facebook and Instagram

According to 01Net’s Meta chased hundreds of Russian trolls paid to manipulate public opinion from Facebook and Instagram
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Hundreds of St. Petersburg-based trolls were generating serial pro-Russian comments on social media. But in the end, the operation was of a poor standard and not very efficient.

On the occasion of its quarterly report on threats, which has just been published, Meta revealed the dismantling of a major Russian disinformation operation whose aim was to spread pro-Russian or anti-Ukrainian comments on social networks. Generally, it was to react to pro-Ukrainian messages posted by politicians, journalists or public figures.

A total of 45 Facebook accounts and 1037 Instagram accounts were closed. They were operated by hundreds of workers who work in offices in St. Petersburg seven days a week and are paid around 440 dolars per month. In short, it was a troll factory similar to the “Internet Research Agency” that had sown discord among American voters in 2016.

Revealed by a Russian journalist

In fact, the existence of this new troll factory was revealed last March by a journalist from the Russian site Fontanka, who managed to get hired there. This journalistic work then prompted Meta to investigate the presence of these trolls on its own networks. It didn’t take much effort, as the operation wasn’t very sophisticated. On Instagram, more than half of the fake accounts were detected by automated processes, because they were very basic and had no real substance. Furthermore, fake comments were often quickly flagged by real users as the work of Russian trolls.

What is remarkable, however, is that this operation tried to make people believe in the existence of a real patriotic movement emanating from Russian civil society. The trolls, in fact, created a public Telegram channel called “Cyber ​​Front Z”, in which they listed daily the places where pro-Russian comments should be posted. A way of doing things that is reminiscent of the “IT Army of Ukraine” channel, with the difference that the attacks are not computer-based, but informational.

A semblance of appeal to the people

But according to Meta’s investigation, it turns out that this appeal to the people was not followed. In the vast majority of cases, the comments were created by Russian St. Petersburg trolls, not volunteer patriots. This operation is therefore a little smile by its “Pied Nickelés” side. “ This deception operation was clumsy and largely ineffective – certainly not a professional job”, summarizes Meta in his report. So much the better.

Source :

Meta