Real life evidence of paid shills being reported on business insider:
- “Troll slayer” and journalist Lyudmila Savchuk when undercover at a troll factory for two and a half months to see how it works.
- Savchuk found that the organization was broken up into departments: “news division,” the “social media seeders”, and a group dedicated to producing visual memes known as “demotivators.”
- The operation was run by a local restaurateur who was placed under US sanctions for attempting to interfere with US elections.
- Savchuk believed her work would help Facebook understand how its platform could be gamed, but no longer believes the fight against trolls is winnable.
When a journalist heard a bot organization was hiring writers, she went for it.
Slaying online trolls can be a lonely business. Just ask Russia’s Lyudmila Savchuk, who first exposed the story of Russia’s disinformation campaign back in 2014.
The journalist and 33-year-old mother of two, Savchuk started noticing websites and social media accounts attacking local opposition activists in her hometown of Saint Petersburg with a frequency she hadn’t seen before.
The posts were all too similar. The verbal assaults too coordinated. So, when Savchuk later heard that an organization rumored to be behind the campaign — the Internet Research Agency or IRA — was hiring writers, she went for it.
“I wanted to get in there to see how it works, of course,” says Savchuk. “But the most important thing was to see if there was some way to stop it.”
She was hired as a blogger and told to report to Savushkina 55, a nondescript four-story office building on the outskirts of town.
There was a group dedicated to producing visual memes known as “demotivators.”
Once on the inside, Savchuk was stunned to see hundreds of mostly younger Russians working as paid trolls in rotating shifts.
Roaming the halls when she could — cameras were everywhere — Savchuk discovered the IRA was full of different “departments.” There was the “news division,” the “social media seeders”, and a group dedicated to producing visual memes known as “demotivators.”