Investigation of RBC: how the "troll factory" worked in the US elections
$ 2.2 million, 100 people, more than 6 million subscribers and coverage of up to 70 million a week: RBC magazine found out how the "troll factory" from St. Petersburg tried to influence the outcome of the US presidential election
Material from the November issue of the magazine RBC, which goes on sale on October 19.
October 22, 2016, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. On a sunny Saturday, several dozen people came to the central park. But not for a walk, but for a meeting of the African-American population against "police violence". Protesters chant slogans at the fountain in the park, then peacefully march to the entrance to the local police department: on the porch of the office they repeatedly shout out Black Lives Matter - a popular slogan and the name of the organization advocating for the rights of the black population of the United States.
The event in Charlotte was promoted in Facebook on behalf of the BlackMattersUS community, which has nothing to do with the Black Lives Matters. The organization's connections go far beyond the US - Russia, St. Petersburg, ul. Savushkina, 55.
Investigation of RBC: how a "media factory" grew out of the "troll factory"
TECHNOLOGIES AND MEDIA
This address in the Primorsky district of the city has long been a household name. About three years ago, in a four-story building on the street. Savushkina moved several hundred people, whose main task is the propagation of patriotic values. The work of the employees of the "troll factory" (hereinafter referred to as the "factory") allegedly created and sponsored by the St. Petersburg businessman Evgeny Prigozhin was limited to writing non-stop comments under fictitious names in blogs and social networks in RuNet - in defense of the current government, with criticism of the opposition and in support of politically acceptable public events.
Soon the "factory" began to outgrow its primitive methods of work. Approximately at that time, the first portals appeared, which later became the core of the media part of the organization - the so-called "media factory", an entire patriotic holding, about which RBC magazine wrote in March 2017 and whose audience now exceeds 50 million people a month. After publishing about the "media factory" the main media holding - the Federal News Agency (FAN) - registered the portal Fabricmedia.ru, it follows from the data of the WhoIs service.
By mid-2015, the "factory" had grown to 800-900 people, and the arsenal of tools had expanded - video, infographic, memes, reports, news, interviews, analytical materials and their own communities were used. And already in January 2017, together with the RT channel, the Internet Research Agency, one of the first alleged legal entities of the "troll factory" (ceased operations in 2015, was expelled from the register at the end of 2016), was mentioned in the report of the US intelligence services Russia's interference in the election of the US president. And shortly after the election of Donald Trump, several commissions were set up in Congress and the Senate, which are investigating this incident.
American corporations - Facebook, Twitter, Google - cooperate with the authorities, searching for traces of "trolls" on their sites. Western media - The Wall Street Journal , The New York Times , CNN , The Daily Beast , etc. - almost daily publish new facts about possible Russian interference in the presidential campaign: they find new communities that worked before and after the elections, related ads and Events. The articles are based on even individual illustrations and videos related to the blocked communities.
RBC magazine conducted its investigation: we managed to find and confirm the involvement of employees from Savushkin at least 120 communities and thematic accounts, analyze their content and calculate the total costs for the campaign. Is the scale of the work of the "trolley factory" comparable with the excitement caused in the US around this story?
Meeting the US
Spring 2015, in front of the monitor gathered several people. On the screen of the computer a rather monotonous picture: people approach the square in New York, look around, look at the phones, again inspect the surrounding space and after a while leave.
Picket in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. October 22, 2016 (Photo: blackmattersus.com)
A few days before, targeting New Yorkers in Facebook, an event was being promoted, the essence of which was to get a free hot dog - you just need to come at the appointed time to the designated place. No guests came to eat sandwiches. But other people enjoyed: with the help of city street webcams for events on the square in the online mode observed from St. Petersburg, from the office on the second floor of the "lair of trolls."
The action was to test the efficiency of the hypothesis - is it possible to remotely organize the event in the US cities. "Just testing the possibilities, experiment. And he was a success, "- recalling one of the employees of the" factory ", does not hide his joy. From this day, that is, almost a year and a half before the election of the US President, a full-fledged work of "trolls" began in the American community.
In March 2015 on the portal SuperJob there was a vacancy "Internet operator (night)". The salary of 40-50 thousand rubles. with the schedule of work 2/2 (from 21:00 to 09:00) in the office in the Primorsky district searched for an employee whose job duties include writing "on the given topic", "news information and analytical". In the list of requirements for the applicant - "free English", including "confident possession" of written language, and creativity.
The vacancy was published by the St. Petersburg company Internet Research (at the end of 2015, joined the firm Teka): the owner of the company was then the former head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Moscow region of St. Petersburg Mikhail Bystrov - he also managed the Internet Research Agency and so far is headed by Glavset, registered on the street. Savushkina, 55 (data from SPARK-Interfax). In vacancies for the SuperJob employer - "Internet Research" - was described as a "large and stable company" with a staff of up to 50 employees.
Through such announcements, Savushkina recruited people who would take on the work with the American communities in real time, an ex-employee of the "factory" told RBC magazine. Another former employee adds that it was just from the beginning of the spring of 2015 that they began to "issue tasks to discredit the image of candidates" that will go to the presidential elections in the United States.
However, it became impossible to work in openly "factory" communities: on June 2, 2015 the New York Times Magazine released the material of The Agency ("Agency") Adrian Chen, and the very next day after the publication Facebook blocked all the groups of the "factory" in English language, accounts of fictional administrators and even partially personal pages of employees from Savushkin, recalls the source of RBC magazine in the organization. But the "trolls" were not the first: they went on a new circle - as a result, most of the communities that were closed by the social network in August 2017, were created after the publication of Chen's investigation.
When Facebook blocks accounts of trolls, IT department of the organization buys a proxy server, issues new IP-addresses, virtual "OSes", and the work begins anew, the ex-employee of the "factory" tells. Also new SIM cards or cloud numbers are purchased, new payment accounts are opened, and sometimes packages of documents for registration of accounts are added by the interlocutor of RBC magazine at the "factory". For IT, up to 200 thousand rubles are spent. in a month, specifies the source familiar with the activities of the organization.
A much larger item of expenditure is salaries. For the year, by the summer of 2016, the number of employees of the "American Department" at Savushkin grew almost threefold, to 80-90 people. This is about one-tenth of the total staff of people associated with the "factory".
"They always know for themselves what to do. It remains only to listen to reports on the results and say that we need to work better, "- the source of RBC magazine in the environment of Prigogine answers the question about what the management structure of the" factory "looks like. Inside the organization, the classical scheme is used: a single leader and curators of directions. Responsible for different "departments" in the work of neighboring units do not interfere, sometimes they are not at all familiar with each other and do not know who does what, the interlocutor familiar with the activities of the organization tells.
The actual head of the whole "factory" is, as the RBC magazine wrote, 31-year-old Mikhail Burchik, previously the owner of his own IT companies VkAp.ru and GaGaDo, the publisher of newspapers for municipal districts. Burchik himself never officially confirmed that he runs a "factory" or works at Savushkin's office, but in conversation with the RBC magazine he said that he advises the media "as an expert in the promotion and development of Internet projects." Burchik personally communicates with about 20-30 people, who in turn manage the staff from 10 to 100 people depending on the direction, describes the model of the source work from the "factory".
The head of the "American department" interlocutors of RBC magazine unanimously called the 27-year-old native of Azerbaijan Jeyhun Aslanova. He himself denied this information in a conversation with a correspondent of RBC. But in addition to the words of the three sources of the magazine - the current employee of the "factory", the former employee of the "American Department" and the source familiar with the organization's activities - the message from the Telegram chat, created by Aslanov, dedicated to the interim results of the "factory" in USA.
In St. Petersburg Aslanov arrived in the late 2000s from the city of Ust-Kut, Irkutsk region - to study economist at the Hydrometeorological University. In 2009, he spent several months in the US, visiting New York and Boston, in 2011 went to London, it follows from the open information on Aslanova's page on VKontakte. Now the probable head of the foreign department of the "factory" is owned by two firms, specialization - advertising activities and work on the Internet. One of them, Azimut, was established in June 2016, that is, three months before the elections in the US, and for half a year showed revenue of 29 million rubles. (the data of SPARK-Interfax). The "factory" practices the registration of legal entities for their own employees: several news portals of the "media factory" were recorded by journalists of publications (for example, "Narodnie Novosti" and "Economics Today").
"Azimut" renders services in the promotion of accounts in social networks, Aslanov himself said, who even offered assistance to the correspondent of RBC magazine in promoting his personal pages. Aslanov himself, in addition to the profile in VKontakte, had an account on Facebook, but now he's blocked. The American corporation did not answer the question of RBC magazine, whether this account was closed as part of a campaign to clean up traces of troll interference. Aslanov did not discuss blocking his page.
Much of the content in the English-speaking communities was published through postponed posting in the same Facebook. Approximately ten people from the general staff of the "foreign department" worked on the night shift, the rest on the usual schedule (five working days, two days off). Salary fund of the "American Department" on Savushkin reaches 60-70 million rubles, or about $ 1 million a year: "trolls" of the lowest link receive about 55 thousand rubles. (plus premiums for the reaction of participants in communities), administrators - 80-90 thousand rubles, management - from 120 thousand rubles., quotes the former and current employees of the "factory".
All employees are officially registered in one of the legal entities of the organization - there are only about ten of them. The revenue of Glavset, registered with Savushkin, 55, in 2016 amounted to 86.4 million rubles. - at the cost price of the sold "goods, products, works, services" in 83.1 million rubles. (almost $ 1.4 million, the data of SPARK-Interfax).
Work inside the "American department" was built "from the creative" or the so-called bushes, the interlocutor from the "factory" tells. In the first case, people who are better at inventing and creating their own content, for example, images and memes for the Californian photo sharing service Imgur (audience - more than 30 million) were selected from the general mass. And by "bushes" are meant thematic communities that have become popular on several platforms at once - for example, the same BlackMattersUS. On one group in Facebook accounted for up to five administrator accounts - for example, Stop AI was led by Bertha Malone and David Waddell.
RBC magazine has a list of almost 120 communities and thematic accounts of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, which worked until August 2017. Authenticity is confirmed by screenshots with posts of groups and individual accounts made from the internal panel of administrators (also blocked). The involvement of the "trolls" in the existing list was also confirmed by the source of RBC magazine, close to the leadership of the "factory". In addition, more than half of Twitter accounts are registered to numbers with the prefix +7, it follows from the data of the password recovery service.
RBC magazine also asked linguists to analyze seven publications from the communities listed on the list. The authors of the posts were in many cases Russian - "enough proof" of this was found by the adjunct professor at Columbia University Ronald Meyer and his colleague, the director of the program for the study of the Russian language Alla Smyslova. They pointed to direct tracing from Russian (for example, sitting on welfare) and flaws in punctuation like commas before the union that ("what"), the lack of articles and generally "strange" formulations.
At the same time, the executive director of the Star Talk School of Foreign Languages, Ekaterina Chegnova, and the teacher of English Dmitry Bulkin noted that the publications were written in "quite pure English", so we can conclude that the authors are native speakers. In part, this may be due to the fact that the texts for their posts "trolls" are periodically borrowed from real Americans.
Less than 100 people created and posted more than 1 thousand units of content a week. Coverage, for example, in the September weeks of 2016 was an average of 20-30 million. How did the "trolls" manage to get users interested in "factory" content?
Letters for export
On February 28, 2017, Senior Adviser to the President of the United States, Kellynn Conway, sat down on the sofa with her legs tucked up at an official reception in the Oval Office of the White House. Her photo against the background of President Trump, posing at this moment in front of the cameras, together with the leaders of historically black universities (HBCU, created specifically for teaching the African-American population), caused a storm of indignation in social networks. Conway was accused of contempt of the Oval Office, the people of the United States and his president, wrote the BBC .
The same day, blogger Jenna Abrams published two tweets - her response to the criticism of Conway's behavior. There was one photo of former President Barack Obama, on which he was sealed with legs thrown on the table, on the second - another former US President Bill Clinton in an embrace with Monica Lewinsky. Both pictures were taken in the Oval Office. These two Abrams publications collected about 1 thousand retweets and almost 1.3 million likes, the post in his article was used by the British Independent. RBC magazine found Abrams reports on the sites of Aljazeera, Elle, Business Insider, BBC, USA Today, Yahoo, etc. Now the account @Jenn_Abrams (registered to the number with the prefix +7) and the site Jennabrams.com are blocked.
Accounts like "Jenna Abrams," the "factory" had dozens. About ten employees of the "American Division" were engaged in the social network Twitter: their task was not a pre-election race as such, but the creation of accounts and the conduct of flash mobs, which will pick up the major media and key media items, says the employee of the "factory".
As an example of effective projects, he leads the action # 2016ElectionIn3Words, which allegedly started on November 7, on the eve of the election: heshteg suggested Twitter users in three words to describe what the candidates' election campaigns remembered, to tell about expectations. The interlocutor of RBC magazine assures that the hashtag got into world trends, and on November 8 the @midnight show (used on the American cable channel Comedy Central until August 2017) used a similar hashtag on the air - the game was joined by the viewers. To find Twitter posts with # 2016ElectionIn3Words from November 7, RBC magazine could not.
Flashmobs were conducted by several accounts - for example, @WorldOfHashtags, @GiselleEvns, @ChrixMorgan, @LoraGreeen, etc. (all are now blocked), wrote in his Twitter anonymous Mort d'Trolls. About the number of "center" accounts used for seeding and promotion, told the magazine RBC and employee of the "factory".
But the bulk of the employees of the "foreign department" from St. Petersburg did not play hashtags and flash mobs, but rather serious topics. According to a source close to the leaders of the "factory", almost all American content of the "factory" was not so much for a specific candidate as for "acute social issues": they allegedly ran into Trump's rhetoric - they call it "correlation" rather than " direct support. "There was no task of" supporting Trump. " All current problems were directly related to the actions of the ruling party at that time [the democrats]. Hillary [Clinton] - her representative, and therefore also to blame, "- says another. An analysis of hundreds of publications conducted by RBC magazine showed that Clinton appeared in the posts of "trolls" much more often than Trump.
"Share, if you believe that Muslims did not do anything on 9/11. Look at how many people know the truth "(United Muslims of America, September 11, 2016)," Clinton insists: "We have not lost a single American in Libya." The four coffins covered with flags were not empty, Hillary "(Being Patriotic, a post about Clinton's attitude towards the national tragedy of September 8, 2016). In a statement, Facebook pointed out that most of the blocked ads "go through the entire ideological spectrum", touching on LGBT issues, race issues, immigrant issues and attitudes toward arms.
The cumulative number of subscribers of approximately 120 blocked communities and accounts - almost 6 million people, of which more than half accounted for Facebook, about a third - on Instagram, RBC magazine considered. We broke the blocked groups on the topics and found out: most often, the "trolls" were raised by conflicts of different nationalities, mostly related to the problems of blacks, and political ones. It was on the promotion of these topics went and the advertising budget in social networks.
"I was banned from showing on television for being too cruel. Put your name and share, if you grew up watching me on television, you have a gun and did not shoot or kill anyone! "- this publication appeared on March 9 in the community of South United. In the center of the post is a picture depicting the animated character Yosemite Sam (Yosemite Sam). The coverage of the post is more than 17 million users, the number of reactions to the publication exceeded 1.6 million, only 3 thousand people hid the post in their tape, nine marked as spam, follows from the screenshot.
The number of publications from the "factory" in Facebook with such coverage is estimated in units: for example, more than 17.2 million gathered a post about veterans and refugees in the community of Being Patriotic. The figure of over 1 million users reached reached at most 20 posts, similar statistics and on Twitter, follows from the analysis carried out by RBC magazine. The number of publications with tens of thousands of views goes to hundreds, but the lion's share of posts collected at best 1 thousand views.
From June 2015 to May 2017, the "factory" spent a minimum of $ 100 thousand to promote more than 3 thousand political ads targeted at American voters (Instagram - less than 5% of the money), said Alex Stamos, Facebook security director, during a speech in Congress. Another 2,2 thousand ads, which spent $ 50 thousand, - under suspicion, he added. On Twitter, which after Facebook closed 22 accounts and found another 179 pieces, ads have not yet been found. Google on its platforms previously counted advertisements for "tens of thousands of dollars" - in the corporation they are connected with the work of the "factory", wrote the Washington Post referring to its sources.
The total budget for promotion in social networks was about $ 5 thousand per month, that is about $ 120 thousand for two years, follows from the internal statistics of the "factory", which is available to RBC magazine. These figures confirm the source of RBC inside the organization. Employees of the "factory" promoted posts from at least 40 communities: about half of the budget went to publications touching on racial issues, slightly less - with political bias.
The interlocutors of the magazine RBC argue: on Twitter, advertising was not bought, as it was not bought in Tumblr or Imgur. "We spent a little bit on the promotion of Twitter-accounts - they wrote bots to gain mass, but it's scanty expenses," the employee of the "factory" explains. According to him, in the Facebook communities the bots were not used, because "it does not make sense, we needed live people", but RBC magazine could not verify this. The fact that repostili publications real users, not bots, also wrote The New York Times. Placing advertisements on Google platforms, interlocutors from the "factory" also deny, specifying only that "there were tests, but they did not receive continuations."
Approximately 10 million unique users from among US residents have seen at least one ad, created by structures associated with the "factory", cited statistics on Facebook. Savushkin is preferred to measure by coverage: in August 2016, the minimum was 15 million per week, in October 2016, the maximum bar was reached - 70 million hits per week, follows from the internal statistics of the "factory" received by RBC magazine in early 2017, th. Facebook in one of its applications pointed out that about 25% of advertisements from structures associated with the "factory" never appeared to anyone - because of their irrelevance to the audience.
The average CPM (the price for 1,000 impressions) in the US is $ 5-7, so the campaign coverage of 10 million people is not very much, you could do 30-40% more, says Sergei Efimov, director of customer services OMD Resolution . Moreover, the audience usually reacts to posts of a political type much better than the usual advertising of brands, which means that the CPM can be even lower - $ 2-3, the expert adds. Director General of Agency One Touch Anatoly Emelyanov says that the price of a subscriber in Facebook rises from $ 0.5 to 2, but with a good campaign creative "the cost of attraction reaches 1 cent for involvement."
However, a significant part of the advertising budget of the "factory" was not aimed at promoting the groups as such, but on scaling the experience with hot dogs.
In May 2016, the famous American activist and one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement Mika White received an email from a certain Jan Davis. He introduced himself as a freelance journalist of the BlackMattersUS community, dedicated to the problems of the black population, and asked for a telephone interview. The activist agreed, gave his number, but the conversation that took place eventually seemed strange to him. "The quality of the connection was poor, and the interviewer, in my opinion, was not a native speaker of the English language," an activist told the RBC magazine, which in 2014 Esquire magazine ranked among the "most influential people under 35".
Now you can read the interview with White only on the site BlackMattersUS - community pages in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with a total number of subscribers more than 250 thousand are blocked (only Tumblr is available). Deactivated and the account of "Jan Davis" on Facebook. A correspondent of the RBC magazine sent him a letter to the same address from which he communicated with White, but the "freelance correspondent" did not open it (data from the Readnotify service). The @BlackMattersUS account on Twitter was registered to a phone number starting with +7. According to the source of RBC magazine, close to the "factory", the same people who worked on the night shift engaged in interaction with various American activists, responding to comments in groups.
Unlike most communities that were run by the "factory", BlackMattersUS positioned itself as a non-profit news portal with its own edition. Anyone could also support the fighters against racism by sending a donation through PayPal to a wallet tied to a post on Gmail with xtimwalters online. In the editorial office, in addition to "Jan Davis," there were six more people working on the site. A correspondent of the RBC magazine discovered the accounts of two more "employees" on Twitter: one of them is blocked, the other has not been updated since 2016.
BlackMattersUS, 44.2% of the audience who visits the site from the search engines (data from Similarweb), managed to collect a whole portfolio of interviews with famous fighters for the rights of blacks. In addition to White, the community representatives talked with the legendary member of the Black Panthers movement Erica Huggins, the mother of the black teenager Ramarli Graham, killed by police in New York, the professor of Columbia University and the godfather rapper Tupac Shakur Jamal Joseph, as well as Ramone Africa, a member of the Philadelphia movement of black MOVE , one of the few survivors of the unprecedented local police raid in 1985 (with a helicopter law-enforcement officers dropped a bomb at the headquarters of the organization).
Communication with the characters did not end after the interview. The same White received from "Ian Davis" several letters asking to support BlackMattersUS shares - for example, flash mob in support of the colleagues of Ramona of Africa, who were caught in prison. The essence of the request was to publish photos and videos in social networks with the demand to release them.
In addition, White was asked to distribute through his accounts information about the rally that was to take place outside the criminal court building in New Orleans on October 14, 2016: on that day, the case of the black Jerome Smith, sentenced in 1986 to life imprisonment for murder. It was planned that after the picket the protesters would go to the hearings, indicated on the BlackMattersUS website. To determine whether someone came to the action, RBC magazine failed: the Facebook event page is blocked.
More evidence has survived on the rally against police abuse - the very same in October 2016 in Charlotte two weeks before the US presidential election, referred to at the beginning of this text. Shortly before the event, representatives of BlackMattersUS via Facebook went to local activist Conrad James, leader of the movement "Life in the Ultraviolet." Community staff asked him to help organize the action, told James himself to RBC magazine. He agreed, called on other local fighters for the rights of blacks and other minorities and even took a megaphone with him to the action.
The rally started with a delay: representatives of BlackMattersUS were late, since they arrived in Charlotte from St. Louis. The action began a certain Stephanie Williamson, introducing himself as the coordinator of BlackMattersUS, follows from the video posted on the organization's website. In addition to Williamson, a black guy was present at the rally from the movement, whose name James did not remember.
A few weeks after the election of Trump in Charlotte, another rally was held, organized by James along with BlackMattersUS, the activist said: several dozens of opponents of the newly elected president with the slogan Charlotte against Trump came to him. Sharp changes in the position of Savushkin explain their own "indifference" in relation to the one who leads a foreign country.
In total, in 2016-2017 in the United States under the auspices of BlackMattersUS passed about ten events, said the source of the magazine RBC, familiar with the activities of the "factory". His words are confirmed by the data from the organization's internal reports from the shares, they are illustrated by photographs that have not been published anywhere before (available to RBC). Local residents who participated in the work of BlackMattersUS did not know that the organization was "trolls" from Savushkin, say the current employee of the "factory" and the ex-employee of the "American Division." Both insist: there were no trips from St. Petersburg to the USA.
Soldiers of the invisible front
In early January 2017, New York martial arts instructor Omowale Adeweil received a message from Instaire from a certain Taylor. He wrote that he represents the public organization BlackFist ("Black Fist") and declared his readiness to sponsor free self-defense courses for all comers. The athlete agreed: from January to May, about a dozen sessions took place at clubs' bases in the urban areas of Queens and Brooklyn. Then Taylor disappeared, classes stopped, told the magazine RBC athlete. In September, Facebook and Instagram blocked BlackFist accounts because of suspicions of links with the "factory".
Under the auspices of BlackFist worked five classes of self-defense: one each in Lansing (Michigan), Los Angeles and Tampa (Florida), two - in New York. Trainers announced weekly classes at their Instagram, the period of publication of ads similar - from January to May. So, in April, there were 20 training sessions attended by about 130 people, it follows from the internal report of the "factory". However, for some classes in New York in general no one came, complained Adevale in a conversation with the journal RBC. Judging by the photos that the coaches published in Instagram, mostly black teenagers and women attended the courses.
"Taylor" paid Adevele an average of $ 320 a month: first the money went through the "Google Wallet", then - through PayPal, however the sender's name did not coincide with the voiced, recalls the coach. He did not see the sponsor himself, but one day, he said, a man from BlackFist came to the hall with him asking how to organize similar courses in Brooklyn. The trainer from Lansing, Donte Adams, also said that representatives of the "Black Fist" came to him through the Internet. In ads in Instagram, Adams constantly pointed out that BlackFist was a sponsor of self-defense courses (in the conversation with RBC magazine the athlete did not name the sum).
In total, the "trolls", which seemed to be the fictitious names of social workers in social networks, managed to form a list of about 100 unsuspecting activists - local residents, who eventually helped with the organization of offline activities.
Through the communities of the "factory" in the United States, about 40 different kinds of rallies and actions were organized, it follows from the internal reports of the organization. Information about some of the events fell into the US media after Facebook passed to Congress information about blocked ads and accounts. For example, in August 2016 Being Patriotic via Facebook invited residents of 17 cities in Florida to support Trump, then still a presidential candidate: at least two events took place, reporters of The Daily Beast in the investigation of Being Patriotic said.
The costs of the "factory" to pay for the work of local organizers (flights to cities, printing costs, equipment, etc.) a month amounted to about 200 thousand rubles., Told RBC magazine an interlocutor familiar with its activities. Thus, for two years, the total expenditure could be 5 million rubles, or about $ 80 thousand, - slightly less advertising costs for promotion in social networks.
"Pure Water Fan"
Now in the "American department" Savushkin employs about 50 people: all these nameless employees now appear in the publications of the American media almost the main engines of Trump's victory in the elections.
Representatives of Facebook, for which the cost of trolls in the $ 100 thousand - is less than 0.0004% of annual advertising earnings, after blocking the communities of the "factory" announced the creation of a whole department to combat fake news. And on the eve of the next speech in the Congress, Facebook posted advertising stripes in The New York Times and the Washington Post about his role in the 2016 election, where he mentioned a case with 3,000 announcements of the "factory."
Representatives of Twitter American officials chastised for not understanding the importance of the issue after their report to Congress. Google at the time of issue numbers did not publicly report the results of the internal investigation, the company did not respond to the question of RBC magazine, whether the data will be transferred to the relevant committees of the US parliament. A representative of Twitter refused to confirm whether the social network closed more than 50 accounts, some of which were registered to numbers with the prefix +7, noting that this is personal information.
In a conversation with RBC magazine, the spokesman for Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, "while" refused to comment on the possible consequences of investigating the activities of the "factory" in the US segment of Facebook and Twitter. Official representatives of the leader of a similar committee in the Congress of Davin Nuns and his deputy Adam Schiff did not respond to requests.
President Trump himself twice touched on the scandal associated with buying political ads on Facebook. Both times his tweets boiled down to an indication of what would have been better to do instead of considering the contents of those who had gone to Congress, and then to the Senate of announcements. In fact - about the likely interference of Russian "trolls" in the election - Trump never answered.
For the president of Putin this story was commented on by the press secretary Dmitry Peskov. "We do not know who and how to place advertising on Facebook, and never did it, the Russian side was never involved," Peskov said at a briefing with journalists. The interlocutors of RBC magazine, close to the leadership of the "factory," insist that "there was no direct cooperation with the staff of the presidential staff (AP)." The request of RBC magazine, handed over to Prigogine, remained unanswered.
Meanwhile, the "American department" continues to work, the acting and former employees told. From the building on Savushkin, 55 English-speaking communities with an aggregate audience of about 1 million people are still managed, the employee of the organization says. The interlocutor close to the leadership of the "factory" insists: "Could we influence the outcome of the elections? .. No, of course. Could you cast doubting states on Trump's side? .. Perhaps, but we were stunned by the results. Why do we need all this? .. Clean water fan. "
Authors: Polina Rusyaeva, Andrei Zakharov.
Tags: USA , investigation , information technology , "troll factory" , numbers ...
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