— The “Wake up, America!” campaign will “focus on promoting information and problems that are hushed up by major American publications controlled by the US political elite”
It’s been a rough couple of months for the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
In February, 13 members of the so-called “Russian troll factory” were indicted for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Since then, the company has been banned from various social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
But now the IRA is fighting back with the launch of its “Wake up, America!” campaign, which promises to challenge “the hegemony of the US authorities” by “promoting information and problems that are hushed up by major American publications controlled by the US political elite.”
The campaign was announced last week via the Federal News Agency (FAN), a pro-Kremlin website that has been traced back to the IRA by open-source researcher Lawrence Alexander.
Russian news websites including RBK Group and The Moscow Times have also published stories linking FAN to the IRA.
“Due to the growing political censorship imposed by the United States, there remains less and less of information sources that are not under control of the US authorities,” reads an announcement on the FAN website. “In this regard, US citizens cannot receive objective and independent information about events occurring on the territory of America and throughout the world.”
The website is currently recruiting English-speaking journalists to work on the campaign, inviting applicants to “send your CVs to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Wake up, America.’”
When I enquired about the position using a fake name, I got this message from FAN’s director Evgeny Zubarev (the message was in Russian, translated here using Google Translate):
We received your resume. It will be considered in a reasonable time and we will notify you of the results.
Director General of FAN LLC Evgeny Zubarev.
Meanwhile, IRA trolls, apparently unhappy with being banned from Facebook and Instagram, are busy promoting the campaign on LiveJournal.
One post, published under the pseudonym “Vandro,” said that “Facebook had launched a war against Russian newsmen,” and accused the social network of conspiring with the U.S. government.
Another post, published under the pseudonym “kyxapka,” speculated about the mental health of Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the Facebook founder of following “the will of his political rulers.”
A third post, published under the pseudonym “qkempek,” accused the U.S. government of “trying to deprive the audience of many thousands of opportunities to receive relevant and resonant news from the Russian Federation and the world from the media, which speak about it honestly and openly.”
A database of the IRA’s LiveJournal accounts was obtained by Russian newspaper My Area (MR7.ru) in 2015.
Click here to read more stories from inside the Russian troll factory.