In case you haven’t heard, the Russian news outlet RBK has published an extensive report on the so called “St. Petersburg troll factory,” and in particular its English language department. Among the new revelations is information about how the so-called “Internet Research Agency” reached out to around 100 US-based activists to help carry out their propaganda. We do not know much about these activists, save for a few who came forward to Buzzfeed. According to that article, local American activists were contacted by people who had “African-sounding” accents and did not reveal any connection to Russia. As such, it appears as though they were unaware of any manipulation.
Obviously this is a major coup, since it would be one of the first concrete examples we have of Russian agents (not necessarily connected to the intel services, of course) manipulating American activists to unwittingly help in propaganda operations (at least these few we know about were unwitting). You think every info-warrior in the States would be jumping up and down with glee, but no. It looks like their self-appointed leader is upset.
It’s pretty easy to see what happened here. Molly McKew is building a career off her supposed information war expertise, and yet at the same time she has provided virtually zero insight and sells a fairy tale about a supposed Russian hybrid warfare doctrine which doesn’t exist (and thus could lull decision-makers into thinking they know the Kremlin’s plans when they don’t). Now along comes this Russian outlet which sheds far more light on the project and also reveals how haphazard and weak it is.
It’s just like those comic book nerds who feel threatened when they encounter female comic book nerds, especially those who display more knowledge about their favorite franchises.