Leaked documents reveal details of anti-U.S. operations by Russian trolls
The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a pro-Putin “troll factory” based in St. Petersburg, recently found fame after it was indicted for allegedly trying to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.
Leaked documents reveal details about the IRA’s operations, including online posts criticising U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and a lexicon of common Internet slang terms that staff at the factory were instructed to use when arguing with commenters online.
55 Savushkina Street (source)
Russian newspaper My Area (MR7.ru) first published the documents in 2015 while the IRA was allegedly engaged in efforts to interfere in the U.S. election.
The documents set out a list of “general requirements” for publishing Russian propaganda on Live Journal, including “obligatory use of keywords in the text” and “use of graphic images or videos, found on Youtube, on the topic of the post.”
The documents also include a 119-page set of guidelines titled “Assignments to the Kremlin for Savushkin, 55,” containing directives requiring staff at the factory to write about certain subjects, or “themes.”
One directive instructed staff to write negative posts about U.S. domestic policy regarding “regular cases of mass shooting of people.”
Via Google Translate:
Theme number 4. USA
The main idea: We form a negative attitude to US domestic policy. There are regular cases of mass shooting of people
News: In the United States for two days there were two cases of shooting, which resulted in the deaths of several people
It goes on to blame U.S. gun crime on “Democratic” support for gun rights:
Mass shooting in the US occurs with a terrifying frequency. According to information experts, in the United States, mass executions of citizens occur every month. In almost all cases, people die from personal weapons that are not closely monitored. In this regard, often the victims are children who kill with weapons taken from parents. These tragedies are due to the vague and ‘Democratic’ position of the authorities, which simplified the rules for obtaining weapons, pushing, therefore, irresponsible people to lynch.
Another directive instructed staff to write about the “lawlessness of the American police.”
Via Google Translate:
Theme number 2. USA.
The main idea: The lawlessness of the American police, coupled with a biased judicial system create instability and problems in society.
News: Two policemen injured during shooting in New York.
It goes on to comment on the social instability created by institutional racism:
Enormous powers, impunity and deeply entrenched racism…in the ranks of the police [coupled with] incidents involving the murder of both ordinary citizens of the United States, and policemen, show how fragile social stability is in the States.
A third directive instructed staff to write negatively about then-president Barack Obama because he’d expressed support for The Interview — Seth Rogen’s 2014 satire of the North Korean dictatorship — after the film was cancelled by distributor Sony (the company later reversed its decision).
The directive quotes a lesser-known 2016 presidential candidate, Matthew Pinnavaia from San Diego, who — according to the IRA — once criticised Obama for his “immoral policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Via Google Translate:
Theme number 1. USA
The main idea: Negative attitude to the foreign policy of the state, conducted by Obama; US politicians have to apologise for the actions of the president of the country
News: Member of the presidential race in the US apologised to the DPRK
It goes on to claim that Obama’s comments were negatively viewed as being reflective of U.S. foreign policy:
The policy of US President Barack Obama raises doubts among many American politicians. That actions of the state on the international scene shows that the US only take their point of view and does not want to listen to public opinion. In connection with this, American politicians have apologised for the actions of the president and the foreign policy of the country.
The leaked documents also include a lexicon of common Internet slang terms, such as “butthurt” (“literally ‘asshole pain’”) and “oldfag,” to be used in arguments with commenters online.
Via Google Translate, here’s the IRA’s preamble to the lexicon:
A successful dispute with an opposition commentator [requires] literate speech that fits into the traditional slang of a site on which the employee works. Moreover, posts written using the necessary words (by situation) will not cause readers unnecessary questions, as bloggers of this kind are trusted more than ordinary political reviewers.
And here are some notable entries from the lexicon itself, including a definition for “trolling” that explicitly excludes “writing articles to order”:
BUTTHURT – (English butt – ass, hurt-pain, literally “asshole pain” or “Попоболь”) Possessor of Butthurt is distinguished by exceptionally strong negative reaction to insult or sarcastic depreciation…Like all the words of Internet slang, it was coined at the dawn of the development of the first world Internet forums. Also, the only way to combat this term is the most popular meme-weapon.
GTFO – (abbr. From English Get the fuck out (off) please leave the conversation / conversation…As a rule, it is applied to speakers exclusively on Internet slang users, in order to respond by counterattacking their insults / statements. Example: “Proof or GTFO from here”. (referring to an opposition commentator or blogger).
NEWFAG – (English new faggot: new – “new”, faggot – “faggot”)…the term defining the Internet user “newcomer” (that is, a recently registered user). Was invented on the well-known Internet-resources, but it is also used extensively in the blogosphere. Akin to the meaning of the term “Oldfag”, and is practically synonymous with the words “noob” (English noob, newbie – “Beginner”, “kettle”), “lamer” and “kettle”. Example: “You are here recently, yes, Newfag? News you do not read, you do not follow the events, but just screaming, how bad are you?”
OLDFAG – (English old faggot: old – old, faggot – “faggot”)…definition of “the old Internet inhabitant” namely, a user who has long used the Internet and with an extensive list of known memes, news or events…Akin to meaning with the term “newfag”. Example: “Of course, I’m not exactly oldfag, but I do not remember anything like that! And you, by chance, do you think up?” (when communicating with opposition bloggers).
PROOF – (English Proof, proof) content (whether it’s a picture, a link, a video), confirming what has been said. As a rule, proof is a requirement for an interlocutor to provide proof of his words. Example: “Proof of your words, in my opinion you’re lying, sir!”.
CANCER – [The] highest degree of idiocy on the Internet…Cancer is not an insult. This is rather a definition. So it is possible to name everyone a commentator, who is viciously insulting any of his interlocutors. Cancer does not possess sufficient intelligence to simply leave empty quarrels in the comments, so the only way to deal with “fasting cancer” is to remove from the discussion. An example of a comment from such a commentator: “You are all idiots, lol! All! And you’re an idiot, you think that you’re right? You’re an idiot!”
TROLL – [The] goal of the troll is the production of a quarrel, the topic of which is knowingly offensive to his interlocutor (actually, the main food of the troll is the butthurt). It is worth remembering that trolling is not writing articles to order, it’s not flood and off-topic in posts and comments, and certainly not household quarrel between Internet users. Trolling is a deliberate provocation interlocutor for the purpose of simply ridiculing the opponent in dialogue. There is an unspoken classification of “cattle-trolling” (outright nonsense, which is very simple), “thick trolling” (an unsuccessful attempt of the troll to provoke the interlocutor, which is also quite easy to figure out, but this attempt is complicated in meaning) and “thin trolling” (a clever provocation, which is easy to tell, and which is really hard to figure out). As a rule, the troll, who was discovered, is removed from the dialog. An example of an extremely unsuccessful trolling: “And I’m for Ukraine! And there is no war, the Russian the army is at war! And Moscow is guilty, she organised EuroMaidan to destroy Ukraine.” And the correct answer to it: “Too thick, green, go to the oven, you are not wanted here.”
Update, February 28, 2018: An Arizona Republic survey published yesterday has determined that Russian Twitter trolls sought to smear John McCain by peddling a doctored photo of the AZ Senator posing with ISIS extremists, who follow a strict, orthodox form of Sunni Islam. McCain is identified for criticism in the leaked documents as a supporter of Sunnism:
[Saddam Hussein’s] “Ba’ath” was predominantly a Sunni party [and so] the Sunni part of the country (more than a third population) had protection…
A group of American senators believes that the demands of the Sunnis are quite fair. And among these people there is even John McCain.
However, as many newspapers and websites have pointed out, McCain isn’t the most reliable speaker on the Middle East, and has frequently confused Sunnis and Shiites.