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Russian propaganda in the US - how does it work?

Perhaps this force is more dangerous than any troops. Russian information operations: technical and tactical means

Russian media broadcasting abroad is not journalism. Their mission is political in nature, and they position themselves as a “weapon” aimed at neutralizing the criticism of Putin’s policies with positive information about the Russian Federation. In the end, they hope to drive a wedge between Western countries and improve Russia's capabilities for foreign policy maneuvers.

You know, the main mouthpiece of Russian propaganda in the Western world is Russia Today and Sputnik. RT and Sputnik are 100% funded by Russia (about 400 million euros per year), so it would not have been possible to call them independent from the Kremlin, even if they did not confirm this dependence with their final product. This is pure propaganda, and the messages that they represent wholly and completely follow the mainstream Russian state media.

Skeptical attitude of the western audience to Russia does not allow to simply take and refute the accusations against her - not on the annexation of the Crimea, nor on military aggression in the east of Ukraine, nor on air strikes on civilian facilities in Syria, nor on the poisoning of the former agent Skrypal in England, nor on the impact on elections in the United States and France.

Therefore, the Russian propaganda media, not being able to “shove into the open,” are forced to use the most diverse range of tactics against the Western reader, viewer and listener.

Internet in the service of the Kremlin

To enhance the propaganda effect of brainwashing by Russian propagandists, in addition to the live broadcast of pro-Russian content, more sophisticated techniques are used, for example, using loopholes in popular online services.

And not without reason, because most of the information we receive comes through technical platforms like social networks.Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube in the modern world have a much greater impact on our worldview than we realize.66% of Facebook users in the US admit that they receive news through this resource, and these are 44% of the total US population. The current generation is more inclined to believe the news that their friends share than that provided by traditional media, such as print and television.

Adherents of Russian propaganda hiding behind fake faces use, for example, Facebook and Facebook Events tools to remotely organize and advertise political protests in the United States and push unsuspecting Americans to take concrete actions in real life. Facebook admitted for the first time that Russia used fake accounts and about 3,000 paid advertisements to distribute political posts between Americans before and after the US presidential election.This content, according to an expert on the Facebook advertising system, could be seen from 23 to 70 million people.

In addition, the use of Internet resources in the promotion of cost-effective. Advertising on Facebook for $ 100 can convey the message of the person who paid for it to thousands of users who will expand the range of information users on the exhibitor.

And most importantly, social networks make it possible to convey the necessary message to a specific segment of the audience, based on age, gender, race, education, profession, etc.

Troll Farm vs. Clinton

This potential of Facebook was used by the Russian “farm of trolls”, which is well-known in the USA and Europe, under the name “Internet Research Agency” to promote their ideas.

In the middle of the 2016 US presidential campaign in the United States, a Chrome plugin called FaceMusic, advertised as a built-in music player that allows users to listen to Facebook music for free, was distributed to accounts of American teenage girls aged 14 to 17 years old. In total, the FaceMusic program in the United States alone infected more than 13,000 PCs. The Internet Research Agency, using one of its fake Stop All Invaders profiles, in May 2016 acquired an ad for this application. As a result, in all forums where advertising was present, the Agency, apart from distributing “correct” content, was able to artificially raise its rating. A troll factory could also use an application to generate traffic to articles,

Democrats from the intelligence committee of the House of Representatives for the first time published more than 2,000 advertisements that were paid for by the Internet Research Agency. It was established that Russians, under the guise of advertising, disseminated information focused around specific cities and aimed at people of certain professions, such as miners or people working for certain employers. The announcements focused on acute social and racial issues, including the issues of illegal migration and police brutality. At the beginning of the presidential campaign only elections were openly mentioned in the announcements, and these were mainly attacks on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or doubts about the federal government. But as the elections approached, Russian pages increasingly leaned on politics. So, for two days in September 2016, the agency published four announcements to promote the Miners for Trump rally in Pennsylvania, focusing on increasingly specific demographic groups: from people living within 50 miles of New York to Allentown, Erie and Scranton On election day, the Williams & Kalvin page ad called black voters to boycott. “This time we are choosing between two racists. None represent blacks. Do not go to vote, ”- said in an advertisement that was viewed almost 8.5 thousand times. On election day, the Williams & Kalvin page ad called black voters to boycott. “This time we are choosing between two racists. None represent blacks.Do not go to vote, ”- said in an advertisement that was viewed almost 8.5 thousand times.On election day, the Williams & Kalvin page ad called black voters to boycott. “This time we are choosing between two racists. None represent blacks. Do not go to vote, ”- said in an advertisement that was viewed almost 8.5 thousand times.

And although Google urgently removed the malware from the add-ons store for Chrome, a study of an archived copy of the code, combined with an analysis of its network traffic, revealed that it had secret functionality that was active even when the victim did not use Facebook. Some versions of the code could send Facebook invitations to FaceMusic to friends of the victim, others forced the computer to open sites on a list sent from the server in such a way that it did not manifest itself in any way. According to a Google representative, despite the fact that the company removed the FaceMusic program from all user computers back in 2016, it continues to be active in 32 countries. By the way, the most affected computers are in Ukraine.

Not Facebook one ...

Applied by the experts of the Russian brain washing machine and other methods. For example, NBC News reported on Russia Today’s attempts to use ICYMI's YouTube channel for propaganda. For this, the ICYMI channel site (“in case you missed it” - “if you missed”) was externally styled as another, popular in the US, BuzzFeed site and simultaneously launched on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Externally, ICYMI looks innocent; only their identical registration data testifies to the connection of ICYMI with RT. ICYMI presenter Polly Boyko (by the way, a former correspondent for RT) talks about various household news, unusual stories, cultural news. But in tandem with these entertainment programs, the video channel publishes Boiko’s accusatory reports on international events, pushing through messages, which can be found on Russian pro-government information resources. In one of the videos, which gained more than 135 thousand views, Boyko discusses the poisoning of the British double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter. At the same time, the former correspondent of RT speaks with the false assertion that the leader of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbin, stated that Russia “definitely” did not poison Skrypal. In reality, Corbin said he was asking for "irrefutable evidence" that the Kremlin had attacked, but he did not make final statements. that the leader of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbin, said that Russia "definitely" did not poison Skrypal. In reality, Corbin said he was asking for "irrefutable evidence" that the Kremlin had attacked, but he did not make final statements. that the leader of the British Labor Party, Jeremy Corbin, said that Russia "definitely" did not poison Skrypal. In reality, Corbin said he was asking for "irrefutable evidence" that the Kremlin had attacked, but he did not make final statements.

Tactics of Kremlin propagandists in the USA are constantly being improved in attempts to manipulate the thinking of Americans from the outside. Here is another example. In 2015, a certain American, Alice Norton, posted a message on a culinary website that her family had received food poisoning on Thanksgiving Day after eating a turkey bought at Walmart. In a matter of hours, Twitter users repeated her statement a thousand times, a news article was published, stating that 200 people were in critical condition after eating spoiled turkey.In fact, according to New York health officials, there was no food poisoning outbreak that fit this description. The investigation showed that almost 100 Twitter users who repost Norton’s article on the incident were among the 2.7 thousand fake accounts, controlled by the Agency of Internet research. Moreover, many users from this list, involved in earlier anti-American information campaigns, took part in the attack on the presidential elections in the USA, acting on the side of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and cursing Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Through Facebook groups, such as “Be a Patriot,” Russians organized demonstrations in New York, Florida and Pennsylvania, paid Americans to build a cage and put on Clinton costume in prison clothes, distribute hashtags in support of Trump and pay for his election ad.

Another area of Russia’s use of the Internet space for propaganda purposes is the creation of fake Internet providers for distributing content. Thus, the DoNotShoot.Us site had an IP address 107.181.161.172. Owned by another Internet service provider Greenfloid LLC, registered in New Yorker Sergey Kashirin. As established, Greenfloid LLC had up to 250 IP addresses that were sent to Russian propaganda sites with pro-Russian content. Thus, the service was specially created to provide the Russian “trolls” with their virtual servers, on which they set up a proxy server for sending them to the original website in Russia. And the use of American hosting was conceived to anonymize the true source.

But the funny thing is that Russian propaganda used the company Greenfloid for distribution of Moscow agitprop, which is listed on the site of its Kharkov parent company ITL (the owner is a citizen of Ukraine Dmitry Deineka) as its North American division, and the indicated Greenfloid number is connected to the Russian language ITL menu. It is not the first time ITL has been involved in connection with the allegations that its servers were used to host sites managed by the Russian “factory of trolls”. She also provided hosting services for the site Whoiswhos.me, which made public the personalities and personal data of Russian opposition bloggers.

Russian propaganda tries to reach every American user of social networks, sometimes using the most exotic methods.

In October 2017, a number of videos were posted on YouTube on the Williams and Kalvin page on YouTube, edited by two black video bloggers who called themselves Williams and Calvin Johnson. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, they presented themselves as Atlanta bloggers who carry the word of truth to an African-American audience. In a typical rap style, African Americans under the backing tracks "read out" with a patter of accusations to Clinton's spouses - "Serial killers who rape the whole country," "Hillary Clinton’s election campaign was funded by Muslims," “Donald Trump cannot be racist because he is a businessman," We are black, we are one. We are unanimous in the statement that Hillary Clinton is not our candidate. ” It was documented that comments with the support of the position of Williams and Calvin, posted on Facebook and Twitter were not sent from the US, but from Nigeria, none of William's and Calvin's friends on Facebook live in Atlanta, and in the videos themselves, journalists found many inaccuracies in describing the features of American life.Thus, they recognized the rollers as falsifications for influencing the consciousness of the African American population of the United States. After the content of Williams and Calvin was identified as a propaganda account funded by the Russian government, it was removed from Facebook.

As we see, Russian ideologues are involved in information operations against the western man in the widest range of technical and tactical means. And all with the only goal - to influence American political life, subjecting it to the interests of the Kremlin.To do this, Vladimir Putin has a secret army of thousands of "trolls", broadcasters and others who spread anti-American propaganda day and night on the Internet, on the air and on newspapers throughout Russia and the world. Perhaps this force is more dangerous than any troops, since no artillery can prevent the spread of their lies, undermining the security interests of the United States in Europe.

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