Russia Troll Farm Even Zanier than Indictment Says
The indictment glosses over some of the wackier aspects of Russian trolling stunts
MOSCOW (AP) – A Clinton-Obama sex tape using body doubles. A Facebook page promoting Texas independence riddled with grammatical mistakes.
The U.S. indictment centered on a Russian internet “troll farm” only scratches the surface of the agency that allegedly produced content to sway the presidential election – and glosses over how unconvincing some of its stunts could be. Although it is difficult to quantify the number of people who took this fake news and propaganda to heart.
Many of the more eye-popping accounts of the Internet Research Agency’s activities have come from former employees. One, Alan Baskaev, told Russian television channel Rain that the agency made a video that looked like a U.S. soldier shooting a Quran and hired actors in an abortive bid to fake a sex tape of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The AP couldn’t confirm Baskaev’s sex tape story. However, a video of a purported soldier firing at a Quran was posted to an American gun forum in 2015.
The fakery was screamingly obvious: The soldier’s uniform was misshapen and out of date. His helmet resembled the headwear a cyclist might wear and the English he spoke was so heavily accented it was almost indecipherable.
The indictment that charged 13 Russians with meddling in the presidential race alleges that the troll farm sent operatives to the United States. Baskaev said the same to Rain last year, but added that he doubted any of them accomplished much in the U.S.
“They probably just went out boozing and partying,” he said.