Monday, June 15, 2015

RED WEB - Now the Hoax War From Russia's 'Internet Research Agency'

"Why are Russian trolls spreading online hoaxes in the U.S.?" PBS NewsHour 6/8/2015


SUMMARY:  In St. Petersburg, a shadowy Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency hires trolls to spread propaganda and hoaxes online.  Jeffrey Brown interviews Adrian Chen of The New York Times Magazine about what he’s discovered about the group.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We turn now to the blurring borders of the Internet in the battle for hearts and minds around the world that sometimes involves massive deception.

Tonight, Jeffrey Brown looks at a secret organization that’s working overtime to sell fiction as reality.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  September 11, 2014, there is an explosion at a chemical factory in St. Mary Parish in Louisiana.  The video is soon posted on YouTube, Twitter is flooded with chatter, including screen shots of news Web sites, a local TV station, and, it appears, CNN’s.

A video surfaces of ISIS taking responsibility for the explosion and local residents receive text messages warning them of toxic fumes in the area.  Big news, except there was no explosion, the video was a fake, as were the news Web sites that reported it, and the footage of the Islamic State group taking credit.

The social media posts were not what they seemed.  As reported in a cover story in The New York Times Magazine, it was all the work of the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy Russian organization based in a nondescript building in Saint Petersburg.

Adrian Chen wrote the story.  He joins me now.

Welcome to you, Adrian.

This is a very bizarre tale that you have written.  Tell us, what is the Internet Research Agency?  How much do we know about it?

ADRIAN CHEN, The New York Times Magazine:  We know the bare outlines of what it is and what they do.

It’s a group in Saint Petersburg, Russia, that basically hires hundreds of Russians to spread pro-Russian propaganda on the Internet.  And one of their tactics is to pretend to be people, Americans and Russians on social media like Facebook and Twitter.

JEFFREY BROWN:  And this is the world of so-called trolls, and you say at an industrialized level.  Explain what trolls, what trolling means in this case.

ADRIAN CHEN:  Trolls and trolling are kind of old-school Internet slang.  And they mean people who come in and just try to do whatever they can to be disruptive and kind of derail the conversation.

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