Ruskies trolls were schooled on ‘House of Cards’

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The Russians who proved helpful for a notorious St . Petersburg “troll factory” that was part of Vladimir Putin’s marketing campaign to influence the 2016 usa president election were required to watch the particular “House of Cards” television series to help all of them craft messages to “set up the Americans against their own government,” according to an interview broadcast Sunday (in Russian) with a former member of the troll factory’s elite English language department.

The interview, broadcast by the independent Ruskies TV station Rain, provides new regarding how the troll factory formerly referred to as Internet Research Agency targeted United states audiences in part by posting attention grabbing “comments” pretending to be from Americans on paper articles that appeared on the websites from the New York Times and Washington Write-up.

A central theme of this messages was demonizing Hillary Clinton simply by playing up the past scandals associated with her husband’s administration, her prosperity and her use of a private e-mail server,  according to the interview with the agemcu worker,  identified only as “Maksim” with his face concealed.

“Maksim” states he worked for the agency throughout 2015, the year before the election, in order to was already focusing its attention upon Clinton.

“The main message is: are not you, my American brothers, tired of the Clintons. How many have they already been?” Maksim says, incorporating that he and his colleagues were informed to emphasize the Clintonsâ€? past “corruption scandals.”

Screen grab of “Maksim” with his encounter concealed, a former member of the Internet Analysis Agency troll factory’s elite British language department. (Video still: TELEVISION Rain)

But more broadly, the directions given to employees of the English vocabulary department were to stoke discontent concerning the U. S. government and the Federal government in particular. “We had a goal to set up the Americans against their own government,” he says. “To cause unrest, cause discontent [and] lower [President] Obama’s rating.”

Just just how effective “comments” placed on the websites associated with American news organization are in impacting on public opinion, if they do anything at all, is far from clear. Nevertheless, the interview is potentially substantial. Although other Russian language trolls who worked in the agency’s household departments have spoken out during the past, Maksim appears to be the first member of the particular highly selective English language area to describe the agency’s meticulous methods.   This is actually the same department that Facebook reports covertly placed over 3, 000 messages on its platform—one element in the Russian “influence campaign” during final year’s election that is getting improved attention from the House and United states senate intelligence committees.

The Rain transmitted says the station’s journalists confirmed Maksim’s bona fides because he could produce documents showing that he worked for approximately a year at the Internet Research Company, the former name of a media conglomerate that is believed to be owned by Evgeny Progozhin,  a wealthy oligarch and restaurateur who is widely known as “Putin’s chef.”

While the particular anti-Clinton messaging Maksim describes can be consistent with the longstanding conclusions attained by the U. S. intelligence neighborhood about the Russian influence campaign, Maksim’s account adds some colorful brand new details—especially the requirement that the agency’s British language trolls study “the House of Cards” to higher understand American politics.

Democratic usa president candidate Hillary Clinton, second through right, is joined on stage frist by lady Michelle Obama, left, Chief executive Barack Obama, second from remaining, and former President Bill Clinton, right, after speaking at a move at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

The popular Netflix TV series features a ruthless, power-hungry South Carolina congressman (played by Kevin Spacey) who else, with the aid of his equally ambitious spouse (played by Robin Wright), increases to the presidency, in part by slicing corrupt deals, planting damaging tales about his political foes within the press, and then covering his paths by murdering a fellow congressman and a journalist.

“At first we were forced to watch the ‘House of Cards’ in English,” said Maksim in the interview. It was part of a

documented “strategy” in the English language section to fully understand how the American politics system works. “It was necessary to know all the main problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, the problem of gays, sexual minorities, weapons,” he stated.

“You were given a list of media that you had to monitor and comment on — New York Times, Washington Post,” he added. The trolls were required to look through thousands of comments on the publicationsâ€? articles. “It was necessary to look through all this and understand the general trend, what people were writing about, what they are arguing about,” he stated. “And then get into the dispute yourself to kindle it, try to rock the boat.”

The trolls were even assessed by “how much you got ‘likes.’ The comment was supposed to provoke a discussion.”

The trolls were furthermore instructed to use vpn’s â€? digital private networks â€? for their blogposts in order to disguise their Russian source.  “If they caught you using a Russian IP address  you’d get a dressing down,” he said.

Russian Chief executive Vladimir Putin holds a cup during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors within the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wed, Nov. 9, 2016. (Photo: Sergei Karpukhin/Pool via AP)

Among the major styles the trolls were to write about  in their posts were guns plus gays. “ When it was gays, we almost always had to bring out the religious themes,” he said. “Americans are very religious, especially those [who post] on news sites and write comments. You had to write that sodomy is a sin. That could always get you a couple of dozen ‘likes.’”

But among the subjects the trolls had been told to avoid entirely was any kind of mention of Russia or its leader. “Neither Russia nor Putin could be mentioned,” he said. “Because the Americans do not talk about it. They, in fact, do not care about Russia and Putin.”

Special reporter Patrick Reevell  contributed to this survey from Moscow


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