Russian Trolls Manipulating American Politics Through Social Media

Russian troll farms influenced US elections
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Court documents unsealed on Friday revealed key details about the Russian troll farms that are designed to manipulate American voters by posing as activists on social media, according to CNN. The Mueller investigation’s indictment of Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, covered by the Inquisitr, showed that the inquisition had uncovered startling details about Russian manipulation of the American electoral process.

Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin has already pumped over $35 million into a St. Petersburg troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency, where dozens of employees continue to work on shaping the attitudes of U.S. voters heading into the 2018 midterms. The Justice Department filing shows that the troll farm employees are well-trained in posing as American activists, often citing a real news or opinion article and adding their own commentary to the post.

The trolling employees received specific instructions about how to attack individual American politicians, targeting mostly President Trump’s political opponents within the Republican Party.

“Brand John McCain as an old geezer who has lost it,” says one instruction. “Emphasize that John McCain’s pathological hatred towards Donald Trump and towards all his initiatives crosses all reasonable borders and limits.”

Another instruction targeted House Speaker Paul Ryan, telling the trolls to portray Ryan as a “complete and absolute nobody incapable of any decisiveness.” Another instruction, intended to defame Florida Senator and presidential hopeful Marco Rubio by instructing the trolls to “expose Marco Rubio as a fake conservative who is a traitor to Republican values.”

The Internet Research Agency also sought to enflame opinions on both sides of political issues. In response to the Mueller investigation, the trolls were told to portray Robert Mueller as “a puppet of the establishment. List scandals that took place when Mueller headed the FBI. Direct attention to the listed examples.” Meanwhile, others were told to encourage Democrats to protest in the streets should President Trump ever fire Special Counsel Mueller.

The employees were also schooled on the U.S. media landscape, receiving instruction on which media outlets were considered liberal news sources and which were considered conservative, and taught how to pose as a liberal or conservative voter by selecting topics from an appropriate source.

Social divisions were a key component of the enterprise’s targeting. LGBT groups were a prime target, with the troll farm scoring a key hit with the creation of the fake Facebook group “LGBT United,” which created some ads that went viral in 2016. Racial tensions were also a primary consideration for the trolling, even going so far as to highlight racial tensions within other subgroups.

The state of California suffered a series of attacks from the Internet Research Agency. The trolls were instructed to create posts against California’s sanctuary cities as “treacherous and disgusting,” while also creating hysteria about significant voter fraud in the state.