So it turns out that a troll farm, though perhaps not the infamous one in St. Petersburg, has targeted this blog. The bombardment of poorly-worded nonsense comments appeared on this post, which is, appropriately enough, about the subject of pro-Kremlin trolls. Interestingly, however, the comments all focus on reporter Adrian Chen and Lyudmila Savchuk, who successfully sued the Internet Research, the most visible and famous troll farm. I highlight that point because the blog post really isn’t about either of those subjects; it’s about how sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a paid-troll and some run-of-the-mill American dumbass.
It would seem to me that the bombardment of comments mentioning Chen and Savchuk, complete with hashtags, is probably part of some harebrained propaganda effort aimed at those two, wherever mentions of their name or articles about them appear, rather than some kind of direct attack on Russia Without BS. I say this in spite of the fact that one Russian troll, possibly based in London, did attempt to create mischief here a couple days ago.
If you look at the article in question, you will see that I let a few of the comments through, when it was not clear that there was any kind of pattern. The rest I marked as spam, but here you can see the comments dashboard with their info and messages:
As the reader can see, some of the names have the same IP address. Many have Russian email accounts. Where they do not, they have Russian IPs.
As I wrote before, I don’t know exactly what their game is with this latest scheme. I’m sure it all makes perfect sense in the minds of the managers who came up with it. One talking point seems to be the idea that the troll factor has been shut down. I have seen no concrete evidence that this is the case. Furthermore, I’ve seen evidence that Internet Research isn’t the only company engaged in this.
Given the low volume of comments here, it’s entirely possible that this whole operation, at least on this blog, was carried out by one person, two at max. Once again, I think this is part of a bigger campaign, probably to convince English-speaking comment readers to think that the whole troll operation is over. Of course doing that while making the same boneheaded mistakes and using the same laughable techniques only goes to prove that the operation is clearly ongoing.
I can’t help but feel sorry for these people. It would be much better if they could get a real job and the money spent on this operation could be spent on fixing dilapidated roads or better yet- flood relief for southern Russia.
UPDATE: Apparently my suspicion that this is part of a wider attack on any media mentioning the troll factories has been confirmed. Check out the comments in this whataboutery-laden article and you will see some of the same fake names and hashtags in near-identical comments.
UPDATE: Similar trolling comments appear on this story about Savchuk.