You’re getting very sleepy…the Kremlin is controlling your mind…Putin’s troll armies are everywhere…you must believe us, for your own good
Media fairness and accuracy watchdog Fair.org has been doing a great job of tearing apart some of the worst Russia-related “reporting” of late.
This first piece I want to look at picks apart the ‘Kremlin troll army’ narrative that is so loved by BuzzFeed, Politico, The Daily Beast etc.
The narrative goes like this: Every time you see a “pro-Russia” or even a semi “anti-NATO” comment somewhere on the interwebs, it was written by a paid troll. Putin sends personal checks. If you post more than one thousand comments in a week, you get a signed t-shirt etc.
I have to hand it to the US for this one, it’s a good strategy.
If Washington can get your average Joe and Julia to believe that every even mildly pro-Russia comment on the internet must have come from some sleep-deprived, slave-driven brainwashed starving Russian in a St. Petersburg warehouse, then they don’t have to worry.
It’s ironic though, isn’t it?
A coordinated messaging effort on behalf of US intelligence aiming to convince you that it’s really other people that are trying to control your mind. You’re getting very sleepy…the Kremlin is controlling your mind…Putin’s troll armies are everywhere…you must believe us, for your own good.
As Fair points out — and as comes into my head every time I see more Western hysteria over Putin’s trolls (or Putinistas, as I was referred to the other day) — all of this “investigative” reporting into the social media sweatshops fails to leave out one crucial detail: The US and the UK have been doing this for years to control the narrative online.
In fact, they’ve been developing serious technology to allow them to do it in ever more sophisticated ways.
The Guardian reported a few years ago that the British army had hired a social media team of “Facebook warriors” to spread a pro-West message in comment sections. The Guardian also reported a few years ago that the CIA was developing software which allows them to operate untold numbers of fake accounts, leaving one user in charge of running up to ten fake accounts belonging to “people” on line. The sole purpose of these programs is to direct online conversations towards pro-US, pro-NATO views.
It’s deliberately misleading to “break” the same story over and over again about Kremlin trolls while including none of the above information as context.
Even when the odd bit of reporting is done on the UK and US efforts to control the message, the double standard is on full display. Putin has “Kremlin trolls”…but the UK has “Facebook warriors” and poor Israel is just trying to “defend” itself.
Fair notes some of the headlines which demonstrate the point best:
“Reading Western press, however, one would get the distinct impression the US–with a military budget greater than the next eight countries combined–is really a scrappy underdog looking to catch up to the mass of Kremlin troll hordes.” – Fair.org
Fact is, the over-the-top focus on Russian “trolls” with zero criticism given to the fact that the US and UK do the exact same thing (only even more) is to serve one purpose: To de-legitimize any alternative non-western viewpoint to a Western audience.
In another piece, Fair takes down CNN for a practically source-less and proof-less sensational piece of garbage last week headlined: How Russians hacked the White House.
But the best bit in this take-down is in fact nothing to do with Russian hackers, it’s to do with CNN’s straight up mortifying hypocrisy:
The CNN piece includes this paragraph:
“The ferocity of the Russian intrusions in recent months caught US officials by surprise, leading to a reassessment of the cybersecurity threat as the US and Russia increasingly confront each other over issues ranging from the Russian aggression in Ukraine to the US military operations in Syria.”
“Note that in the CNN stylebook, Russia commits “aggression” whereas the US carries out “military operations.”