360° Coverage : Russia's Media Trolls

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Russia's Media Trolls

May 6 2014, 6:06pm CDT | by

Nearly six years ago, I penned a post titled “Leaders Who Lie,” mostly about the blatant misinformation campaign propagated by one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I followed it up several years later with a...

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12 weeks ago

Russia's Media Trolls

May 6 2014, 6:06pm CDT | by

Nearly six years ago, I penned a post titled “Leaders Who Lie,” mostly about the blatant misinformation campaign propagated by one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I followed it up several years later with a similarly themed post titled “PR Rogues Gallery,” which broadened the meme to include Yasser Arafat, Syria’s Assad, Libya’s Qaddafi and Russia, which could give the others “a run for their money” on the media manipulation front.

That follow-up post prompted a sharp protest from an American ex-pat friend living in Russia who, like most Russian nationals, is a stalwart supporter of Mr. Putin and believes the former KGB officer could do no wrong. He wrote:

“I really fail to see how the Russian government could in any way be associated let alone in the same league as governments such as Syria and Iran. Indeed, in terms of public communications the Russian government’s problem is a lack of PR. They take almost no steps to mold their external image and the communications battle is left to their opponents who create the deeply flawed perception of modern Russian. And of course too they are a convenient ‘filler’ for the big bad enemy–an enemy only in words and not in fact.”

Flash forward to today when any semblance of a free press in Russia has been discarded like the stray dogs in Sochi. In March, The New York Times reported how Russia is mounting a “media war” unlike any other since the end of the cold war. Celestine Bohlin wrote:

“The scale of Russia’s propaganda effort in the current crisis has been breathtaking, even by Soviet standards. Facts have been twisted, images doctored (Ukrainians shown as fleeing to Russia were actually crossing the border to Poland), and harsh epithets (neo-Nazis) hurled at the demonstrators in Kiev — who President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia belatedly acknowledged had legitimate gripes against a corrupt and failed government”

The amount of deception spewing from the Russian government and its proxies has only ramped up since Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Now the Russian government has resorted to paying its supporters to astroturf the comments sections of bona fide news organizations with pro-Russian posts. The Guardian reports that its “moderators, who deal with 40,000 comments a day, believe there is an orchestrated pro-Kremlin campaign.”

This “trolling,” as they call it, has gotten so bad that it prompted one reader to observe:

“…the quantity of pro-Kremlin trolling on this topic … which has been documented extensively since 2012 as a real and insidious threat to online communities of idea and debate, has rendered commenting on these articles all but meaningless, and a worthless exercise in futility and frustration for anyone not already being mind-controlled by the Kremlin.”

It’s one thing to game Yelp or Amazon with fake reviews for which both platforms have suffered immeasurably in both the court of law and the court of public opinion, but something else altogether when a legitimate government purposely deploys deception to influence public opinion. In February 2012 the Guardian reported on Russia’s insidious and opaque efforts to manipulate the media:

 ”A pro-Kremlin group runs a network of internet trolls, seeks to buy flattering coverage of Vladimir Putin and hatches plans to discredit opposition activists and media, according to private emails allegedly hacked by a group calling itself the Russian arm of Anonymous.”

Mr. Putin may view this as an acceptable practice of modern public relations, but I assure you, it is not. It is dishonest, dangerous, and frankly, evidence that Russia is not yet ready to participate in a civilized society.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told to ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken int ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by th ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hisham ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 mill ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mu ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an alloc ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar S ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion K ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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