A Russian 'troll slayer' went undercover at a troll factory
Slaying online trolls can be a lonely business. Just ask Russia’s Lyudmila Savchuk, who first exposed the story of Russia’s disinformation campaign back in 2014. The journalist and 33-year-old mother of two, Savchuk started noticing websites and social media accounts attacking local opposition activists in her hometown of Saint Petersburg with a frequency she hadn’t seen before. The posts were all too similar. The verbal assaults too coordinated. So, when Savchuk later heard that an organization rumored to be behind the campaign — the Internet Research Agency or IRA — was hiring writers, she went for it. “I wanted to get in there to see how it works, of course,” says Savchuk. Related: In Russia, a 'ghost empire' rises She was hired as a blogger and told to report to Savushkina 55, a nondescript four-story office building on the outskirts of town. Once on the inside, Savchuk was stunned to see hundreds of mostly younger Russians working as paid trolls in rotating shifts. But that?
• Perspective perception
• Dangerous, Influential Manipulators
• MARCH 2019