BuzzFeed Unearths Recruitment Ads for Russian Troll Factory

— The notorious troll factory posted ads on Russian job websites in mid-2014 and 2015 while allegedly engaged in operations to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election

Yesterday, I blogged that the recently indicted Russian troll factory, Internet Research Agency (IRA), recruited its U.S. election-meddling troll army of “kremlebots” via conspicuous online job ads, then allegedly expected successful applicants to work for free.

Today, BuzzFeed picked-up the story.

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Via “Here Are Some Job Ads For The Russian Troll Factory” by Jane Lytvynenko, BuzzFeed News, February 22, 2018:

The Internet Research Agency, now commonly known as the Russian troll factory, has gained international fame for its work during the 2016 US election, and the resulting indictments of 13 people announced by the Department of Justice last week.

Job ads from the IRA posted before the election give a sense of the kind of person the agency was looking for and how it helped weed out candidates. The ads were posted on Russian employment websites in 2014 and 2015 and the address listed in them matches the known location of the IRA’s headquarters. The blog Shooting the Messenger first posted some of the job ads.

One ad posting was for a social media specialist, offering a monthly salary of 40,000 rubles, or about $700.

The responsibilities included preparing “thematic posts,” publishing content, growing social audiences, and monitoring social media, blogs, and groups.

When it came to skills, the IRA wanted candidates he knew how to write “informational texts” and create an online community. It also asked for applicants with a sense of responsibility, initiative, and an “active life position.”

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One uniting factor for all of these ads is a desire for energetic applicants. The ads also sought out people with “active life position,” “vigor,” “perseverance,” “ambition,” and the “ability to clearly and structurally express their thoughts.”

But with job postings come job reviews, and one reviewed by BuzzFeed News was not positive about work at the troll factory.

The review, from 2014, complained about being asked to do unpaid work for two days before being hired.

“The company invites you for the content manager for a vacancy, they give you a test task, when you do it, they invite you to an internship, 2 days for 8 hours. When you try to hint that it’s already full-time work and it would be nice to negotiate the terms of the employment contract, you hear ‘I’m sorry, you’re not a good fit’ in return,” the reviewer wrote said.

They wrote that that the other candidates doing the “internship” were largely between 18 and 20 years.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Update, via “Job ads reveal work of Russian troll farm employees” by Max Greenwood, The Hill, February 22, 2018:

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Job postings for the Russian troll factory that allegedly meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election sought prospective employees with coding and social media skills and promised work on “interesting projects.”

The job listings for the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency were placed on Russian employment websites in 2014 and 2015, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday. Some of the listings first surfaced on a blog Wednesday.

One listing for a social media specialist position advertised a monthly salary of 40,000 rubles – about $700 – and said the job would require composing “thematic posts,” monitoring social media and growing social followings, according to BuzzFeed.

Another listing for a web programmer job offered prospective employees 60,000 rubles per month, or about $1,060, and advertised that the successful candidate would be part of a “friendly team” and work on “interesting projects.”

Read the full article by clicking here.

Info-Warring (Part II)

— International Business Times files copyright complaint against conspiracy website InfoWars

In February, I blogged about a series of DMCA copyright complaints filed against U.S. conspiracy website InfoWars.

The complaints by pro-gun news website AmmoLand, Danish-run news website nsnbc international, plus a third accusation of content scraping by Cincinnati survivalist website On Point Preparedness, claimed that InfoWars republished their content without permission.

InfoWars founder Alex Jones (source)

Yesterday, BuzzFeed News broke the news that “InfoWars has republished more than 1,000 articles from RT without permission”:

Over the past three years, conspiracy site InfoWars has copied more than 1,000 articles produced by Russian state-sponsored broadcaster RT to its website — all without the permission of RT.

According to data from social sharing tracking website BuzzSumo, there were at least 1,014 RT articles republished on InfoWars since May of 2014. The articles appeared on InfoWars with a byline credit to RT, but a spokesperson for the Russian broadcaster told BuzzFeed News that InfoWars did not have permission to re-publish its content.

RT is not the only outlet InfoWars copied content from. A search on BuzzSumo shows there are articles copied from CNN, Sputnik, Breitbart, CNS News, the Blaze, CBC, BBC, Vice, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Post, LA Times, BuzzFeed, and others. RT’s articles, however, seem to be the most numerous.

Adding to that list is the International Business Times (recently rebranded Newsweek Media Group).

According to the Lumen Database, a website that collects and analyses online takedown requests, the business news publication recently sent Google a copyright complaint claiming that “InfoWars often [uses] our content without approval and incorrectly attribute canonical owership [sic] to themselves”:

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According to BuzzFeed, InfoWars has not replied to multiple requests for comment.

Blurred Stats (Part III)

— The U.K. Statistics Authority just censured Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders for “hugely” exaggerating rape conviction statistics – here’s a list of news outlets that published the bogus figures

Last week, the U.K. Statistics Authority formally censured Saunders for “hugely” exaggerating the 2017 rape conviction rate.

Via “CPS chief is blasted for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure” by Martin Beckford, The Daily Mail, October 21, 2017:

Britain’s top prosecutor has been blasted by a watchdog for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, was warned that the hugely inflated figures in a report on violence against women were ‘misleading’.

She was told in a letter from the UK Statistics Authority that the true number of people convicted of rape last year was under 1,400. This is less than half the 3,000 she alleged in the report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) earlier this month.

The huge gap is because the CPS includes crimes that were originally investigated as rapes but later downgraded to less serious offences.

Last night, TV company executive Leon Hawthorne, who complained about the statistics discrepancy, said: ‘Alison Saunders went on the media to boast about how more and more rapists are being found guilty. The problem is her figures are a calculated deception.’

Here’s a list of news outlets that published the “hugely” inflated figures, including two major British newspapers that last year issued corrections as a result of efforts by this blog:

The Independent – Last year, The Independent falsely reported that in 2016 there were “a record number of rape prosecutions (4,643) and convictions (2,689).” The paper later issued a correction “to reflect the fact that the CPS rape conviction figure of 2,689 also include cases where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence.”

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Earlier this month, the paper again falsely reported that the number of convictions for violent crimes against women including rape “had increased, from 69 per cent in 2007-08 to 75.3 per cent this year – the highest ever recorded.”

The Daily Telegraph – Last year, The Telegraph falsely reported that in 2016, the “conviction rate for rape cases rose to 57.9 per cent of the 4,643 cases brought.” The paper later issued a clarification, plus a lengthy explanation. It did not report the 2017 statistics.

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The Guardian – Last year, The Guardian false!y reported that in 2016 there were “a record number of rape prosecutions.” The report correlated those numbers with inflated numbers of convictions.

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Earlier this month, the paper again falsely reported that the “number of rape prosecutions completed rose from 4,643 in 2015-16 to a record 5,190 in 2016-17.”

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BBC News – Earlier this month, BBC News falsely reported that in 2017, convictions for rape rose “to new highs of 5,190.”

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The Times – Earlier this month, The Times falsely reported that “the number of rape convictions rose from 2,689 to 2,991 between 2015 and 2016.”

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• BuzzFeed News – Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News falsely reported that “convictions for rape have increased by 48% over the past 10 years.”

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Click here to see the underlying CPS data on the 2017 rape conviction rate.