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How exactly did the “troll factory” intervene in the US presidential election

Examples from the US authorities: hashtags, rallies and congratulations.

The New York Post release the day after Trump’s victory. Holiday pictures AP

On February 16, the US Department of Justice published accusations against 13 Russians who allegedly interfered in the presidential election and in general the political process in the United States. Although the agency did not specify how many Americans could suffer from the actions of the “troll factory”, it reinforced the materials with concrete examples.  chose the most noteworthy.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is called the head of the “troll factory”, denies his involvement, like other employees of the St. Petersburg Agency for Internet Investigation.

Fake accounts and communities on “painful” topics

Hundreds of fake accounts of the “factory” in social networks, according to the US authorities, were created to promote invented “opinion leaders.” Employees of the agency published posts in shifts day and night, taking into account the American time zones. The main task was to support political radicals and those people who are unhappy with the situation in society and the economy.

“Factory” specifically created communities on topics that are painful for Americans: migration (Secured Borders, “Protected borders”), racism and violence (Blacktivist, “Black activist”), religion (“United Muslims of America”, “United Muslims of America” ​​and “Army of Jesus”, “Army of Jesus”), separatism (“South United”, United South “and” Heart of Texas “,” The Heart of Texas “).

Screenshot NY Times

For the same purpose on Twitter, accounts like “Tennessee GOP” started. It was alleged that it is led by supporters of the Republican Party (Grand Old Party – an unofficial name). At some point, he recruited more than 100,000 subscribers.

Tweets talk about journalists ignoring Trump’s assassination, actions in Charlottesville and graffiti against Google in Los Angeles. Currently such accounts are blocked, but the tweets are  saved .

Political advertising

Advertisement was published deliberately: the “factory” analyzed the effectiveness of publications and tried to increase it by likes, comments and reposts. The agency has been distributing advertisements on political topics in social networks since 2015. In the election year, according to published examples, she was directed against Hillary Clinton.

  • April 6, 2016: “You know, a lot of blacks support us, saying that Hillary Clinton is not my president (#HillaryClintonIsNotMyPresident)”;
  • May 10, 2016: “Donald wants to protect against terrorism. Hillary wants to sponsor it “;
  • June 7, 2016: “Trump is our only hope for a better future.”
Other examples of texts of political statements

Hashtags

In 2016, the agency was tasked with using every opportunity to criticize Hillary Clinton and “and others.” In the message was a note: “except for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump – we support them.” To do this, the “factory” also created accounts like “March for Trump” (“March for Trump”) and launched hashtags.

  • # Trump2016;
  • #TrumpTrain (“Trump Train”);
  • #MAGA (Make America Great Again, “Let’s make America great again”);
  • #IWontProtectHillary (“I will not support Hillary”);
  • # Hillary4Prison (“Hillary in prison”).

VPN

To hide personalities and location, the IT department of the “factory” leased servers in the United States and organized a VPN-virtual private network. The Ministry of Justice considered this using the American computer infrastructure.

Employees of the agency from Russia connected to the VPN and after that worked: they published records, launched new accounts and communicated with real Americans.

The use of stolen data and fraud

In 2016, the “factory” illegally used personal data of Americans who did not know about it. These are social insurance numbers and birth dates. Figurants opened accounts in US banks (names are not shown), accounts in the PayPal payment system (through which services were paid) and profiles for crypto-exchange services.

Employees of the “factory” made fake identification cards (ID) and driver’s license. The personalities of real Americans used when publishing content in social networks, through PayPal also paid for advertising.

Single actions, for example, congratulations to Prigogine on his birthday

Employees of the “factory” through social networks persuaded a certain US citizen to hold a single action. On May 29, 2016, he went to the White House in Washington and unfolded a poster with the inscription “Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss” (Happy 55th Birthday Dear Boss).

If you believe the accusations, Russians told the American that the slogan is addressed to someone who is in the White House. The Ministry of Justice is sure that in this way they wanted to congratulate Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was born on June 1, 1961.

Organization of meetings

“Factory” through the social network organized not only single pickets, but also more large-scale political actions in the United States. At least since June 2016, the agency has invented and advertised rallies via Twitter and Facebook. It is known that some participants of such shares were paid, but, judging by the documents, not all.

Not all actions were directed against Clinton: in June 2016, a rally “Support Hillary. Save the American Muslims. ” After the elections, actions took place against Trump.

A few examples of such actions:

  • New York: June 25, 2016 – “March for Trump”, July 23 – action “Down with Hillary”;
  • Florida: August 20, 2016 – the rally “Florida for Trump.” It is indicated that the agency asked the American to build a cage and place it in the truck body, and another American – to put on the mask of Hilary Clinton and get dressed in a prison robes;
  • New York: November 12 – a rally “Trump is not my president”; Charlotte, November 19 – Charlotte vs. Trump.

Destruction of evidence

Employees of the “agency” began to destroy the evidence in September 2017, when information appeared about their activities before the elections. The first materials were deleted the same day, when Facebook told about suspicious publications. This “factory”, allegedly, prevented further investigation of the US authorities.

An example is given on September 13, 2017, when Irina Kaverzina, a staff member of the agency, wrote to a relative by e-mail: “We have a small crisis at work here – we were spotted by the FBI (not a joke). My colleagues and I sweep away the tracks. ” In another message, she admitted: “I came up with all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that their fellow citizens wrote it.”

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