I ain’t gonna work on Vladie’s farm no more

I recommend this interview with one of the people who worked at the St. Petersburg troll factory that was the subject of several indictments on Friday.

How did the trolling work?

You got a list of topics to write about. Every piece of news was taken care of by three trolls each, and the three of us would make up an act. We had to make it look like we were not trolls but real people. One of the three trolls would write something negative about the news, the other two would respond, “You are wrong,” and post links and such. And the negative one would eventually act convinced. Those are the kinds of plays we had to act out.

[…..]

Why did you leave?

I left for moral reasons. I was ashamed to work there.

Also, too, let’s raise a little more money for Swing Left, which is helping progressives target over 70 Republican-held House seats:

Goal Thermometer






68 replies
  1. 1
    oatler. says:

    “Troll factory” makes me think of Rankin Bass claymation.

  2. 2
    sanjeevs says:

    I met a person in the Philippines who does this for Duterte.
    They have programs they use on Disqus to upvote all their posts. Just like in the story there’s a boss handing out the messages of the day.
    Same people will brigade twitter (via bot armies) and have set up large groups on FB to sling their shit everywhere.

    Its incredibly powerful stuff. Saw it happening in late 2015/early 2016. Was depressing watching it happen in the U.S. (and UK) afterwards and nothing done about it. Its killing democracy.

  3. 3
    moops says:

    Troll farming like this is entry-level stuff. The trolls that show an aptitude for this “work” get more advanced assignments

  4. 4
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    I’d like to read the interview. Do you have a link?

  5. 5
    Doug! says:

    @The Fat Kate Middleton:

    Click on “this interview”

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    Now we know he watched 60 Minutes tonight. He will be sorry for dissing Oprah.

    Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2018

  7. 7
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mary G: Donald wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him upside the head with a Louisville Slugger.

  8. 8

    The neural network I’m training to troll this site is gonna put all these people out of business.

  9. 9
    Mary G says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Like someone said, you never diss Oprah on Black Panther Weekend. Maybe the BP phenomenon is adding to his stress. “We’re trying to make America white again, here, people!”

  10. 10
    SFAW says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Donald wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him upside the head with a Louisville Slugger.

    You are wrong, tovarishch. Allow me to provide linkskis to convince you.

  11. 11
    MisterForkbeard says:

    Literally just saw two facebook friends arguing that the US is way worse than Russia on coups and election stealing, then watched as they decided that the only thing Russia had ever done to the U.S. was “just 13 trolls that give Joy Reid a chance to sound offended”. They compared this to US Covert events going back to… 1900. One of these guys was a semi-reformed BernOrBuster, and the other is a libertarian whackjob.

    I’m tempted to take a screenshot so I can show them both later. “See? You’re stupid. This is why you should never comment on the internet again.”

  12. 12
    jl says:

    ” the negative one would eventually act convinced. ”

    Well shit, I’ve never seen anything like that on Balloon-Juice.

  13. 13

    @MisterForkbeard:

    I’m tempted to take a screenshot so I can show them both later.

    I have never regretted taking one for that purpose; I have often regretted not doing so.

  14. 14
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Yeah, but then I’d have to read the thread again. And the conversation was so stupid it actually made me angry.

    Not sure I need to do that for two folks I have marginal interest in to begin with.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    efgoldman says:

    I watched John Oliver’s season opener tonite. He wasn’t that funny. Not his fault – he only tells true stories.

  17. 17
    Corner Stone says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Donald wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him upside the head with a Louisville Slugger.

    I demand peer reviewed science to back up this claim!

  18. 18
    Mike J says:

    @jl:

    Well shit, I’ve never seen anything like that on Balloon-Juice.

    I’m starting to think you may be right.

  19. 19
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @MisterForkbeard: those would quickly be ex-FB friends in my world. Ain’t nobody got time for Wilmer or bust shit.

  20. 20
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mike J: It’s certainly something to think about.

  21. 21
    opiejeanne says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I’d block ’em just for the stupidity of their conversation, but I’m kind of mean that way.

  22. 22
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mike J: Ha!

    OT: did you go out on the water this weekend? It’s darned cold right now, 30 up on Hollywood Hill and going to 23.

  23. 23
    Hkedi [Kang T. Q.] says:

    @Corner Stone: We are going to need a high number of repeats to make sure the statistics for your experiment are good….. =3

  24. 24
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    The worst are full of passionate intensity…

  25. 25
    John Revolta says:

    @Mike J: @Corner Stone: Golly, you guys are right! What a fool I’ve been!

  26. 26
    Bupalos says:

    Attended a house party for betsy rader (ohio 14th) this afternoon.

    I’ll just say, remember you heard her name here first, because my gal is gunna CRUSH it and then stomp on it and then light it on fire and toast a marshmallow. We couldn’t be luckier to have this candidate, we couldn’t do better if we could make candidates in a lab, and if you’re looking for somewhere to send your FuckTrump dollars, you won’t find a better place than OH14.

    Seriously if BJ wanted to really adopt one on the cutting edge (Trump +12, but Sherrod Brown mostly wins here) there are a lot of good reasons this should be the one.

  27. 27
    Mike J says:

    @opiejeanne: They had to close the I-90 bridge today because of high winds and waves. Bad time to be sailing.

  28. 28
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @MisterForkbeard: my impression is that news of the Mueller investigation is stressful for the B-Bros.

    One of my acquaintance thinks that congressional Democrats will be responsible for starting a nuclear exchange with Russia (he previously blamed them for Trump’s bomb8ng run in Syria). Then again, this was a guy who tweeted that Bernie woulda won the primary if he had been married to a black woman.

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ninedragonspot:

    One of my acquaintance thinks that congressional Democrats will be responsible for starting a nuclear exchange with Russia

    He…uhhh…mmmm…what?

  30. 30

    @Corner Stone: @Ninedragonspot:

    a guy who tweeted that Bernie woulda won the primary if he had been married to a black woman.

    …….

  31. 31
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Ninedragonspot: The thing is, the FBI/CIA absolutely have done a lot of horrible things. But to decide that A) Russia isn’t nearly as bad as us and B) Russian attempts to fuck with our elections are okay because we had a tight hand on the Iraq elections (or fucked with Haiti 15-20 years ago) is staggeringly stupid.

    I’m not sure what prompts you to make that declaration unless you’re trying to minimize or discredit the russian efforts. And the only reason to do that (if you’re not a russian) is because you hate Hillary a LOT, want to be a contrarian idiot, or… you don’t mind, because the Russians were all in for the Republicans.

  32. 32
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Some people are heavily invested in the narrative that Hillary Only Has Herself To Blame. The Mueller investigation undercuts that narrative frame. But clearly this guy, pundit wannabe in the Chomsky mold, has issues all on his own.

  33. 33

    @MisterForkbeard:

    I’m not sure what prompts you to make that declaration unless you’re trying to minimize or discredit the russian efforts.

    Honestly, some lefties really do want America to fail.

    ETA: @Ninedragonspot: I was just getting ready to type an edit about Chomsky!

  34. 34
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I award you one (1) cookie 🍪!

  35. 35
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Major Major Major Major: I’m willing to believe this, if only because Bernie might have showed a lot more respect for minority concerns if he was married to a black lady. But black women aren’t, you know, magical “Win” buttons.

  36. 36
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @MisterForkbeard: a bunch of my college friends are having the same discussion on FB. And of course they have brought up Bill Clinton’s sex life.

    These are country club republicans, not Wilmerites. Still, I will go back to avoiding FB for weeks at a time.

  37. 37

    @MisterForkbeard: Well you know they didn’t mean it the way you’re willing to concede. They think it would have obviated “identity politics” and made …those… people recognize that the only real struggle is class struggle.

  38. 38
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @Major Major Major Major: that’s exactly the spirit in which the tweet was twit.

  39. 39
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Oh, I do. These are the same people that wanted to claim that Obama’s blackness was obviously a huge positive for him overall and there was no racism whatsoever against him.

    @Steve in the ATL: The moment a right-winger brings up Clinton’s sex life, you know they’ve gone off the deep end and lost the argument already. They just have no idea.

  40. 40
    Sm*t Cl*de says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I demand peer reviewed science to back up this claim!

    Mythbusters episode!

  41. 41
    SFAW says:

    @MisterForkbeard:

    The moment a right-winger brings up Clinton’s sex life, you know they’ve gone off the deep end and lost the argument already. They just have no idea.

    So you’re OK that Clinton raped something like 3,000 women — sometimes 10 at a time — right inside the Oval Office? I suppose you also think Bill didn’t have Ron Brown killed, and that Hitlary didn’t murder Poor Vince Foster in their love nest, and then drag his corpse to Fort Marcy Park?

    Libtard.

  42. 42

    @Sm*t Cl*de: Then they would just trot out that poor dummy of theirs to ‘recreate’ the myth.

  43. 43
    Ninedragonspot says:

    @SFAW: 2,500. The truth is horrible enough without having to exaggerate the details.

  44. 44
    Jay S says:

    @jl:

    ” the negative one would eventually act convinced. ”

    That should be a sure fire way to see that it wasn’t a real internet conversation.

  45. 45
    MobiusKlein says:

    @Ninedragonspot: Chomsky said ‘vote for Hillary, you dummies’ in 2016. They should have listened to him!

  46. 46
    Chet Murthy says:

    @Ninedragonspot: I’m done coddling such imbeciles. I tell ’em to move to Russia if they hate America so much. Time for us, the majority to take back “America, Love It or Leave It”, dammit. “Move to Moscow, fucker” Ha! (not you, obv. *them*)

  47. 47

    @MobiusKlein: I remember that. I’m sure they thought, shit, she got to him! Hitlery Clinton strikes again! What does she have on him? Like when they yelled WE TRUSTED YOU! at Elizabeth Warren during the convention.

  48. 48
    Sab says:

    @Jay S: I get convinced all the time here at BJ. Or at least occasionally.

  49. 49

    @Sab: Obviously this place doesn’t provide real internet conversations.

  50. 50
    Sab says:

    @Major Major Major Major: So I should join FB? Still not convinced on that. Can’t remember which side if any you were on.

  51. 51

    @Sab: I’m not morally opposed to joining it like some people. I find value in being on it, on balance.

    ETA much like one might use an AT&T cell phone, even though they know about AT&T’s cooperation with the NSA. Capitalism!

  52. 52
    1000 flouncing lurkers (was fidelio) says:

    @Corner Stone: Also, this should be repeated by different experimenters to see if they can obtain consistent results.

  53. 53
    Sab says:

    @Major Major Major Major: That’s kind of my point about BJ.

    I have been thinking for years about whether or not to use FB. My SILs all love it but my husband (and me as collateral damage) had a very bad family blowup with an offspring, and FB certainly didn’t help, but the actual blowup was just us. Long since mended.

    Don’t want to restart the whole FB thread down below, but it was really helpful for me in rethinking my position (as were your comments tonight.) I may come out in the same place as I started (or not) but the decision will be a lot more informed.

    That’s what I love about BJ.

  54. 54
    Fair Economist says:

    @jl:

    ” the negative one would eventually act convinced. ”

    Well shit, I’ve never seen anything like that on Balloon-Juice.

    Don’t be ridiculous. I’m sure I remember somebody being convinced to change their opinion one time back in 2015 or so.

  55. 55
    PJ says:

    I hear tell that even one of the front-pagers changed a whole mindset in the olden days, back around 2005.

  56. 56
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Ooh, what kind? Is deep learning with a convolutional neural network overkill for BJ?

  57. 57
    Sab says:

    @Fair Economist: Me tonight on depressed people having guns. I wouldn’t have one in my house, but I was sort of libertarian about other people making bad choices. Not so sure that is still my position, after all the commenters weighed in on repercussions to family and friends.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Jay S says:

    @Sab: That was snark, sort of. But people changing opinions because of web arguments are rare enough to warrant suspicion. Present company excepted of course. Watching the 60 minutes segment by Oprah that Trump disparaged was disturbing in how fixed peoples opinions are.

  60. 60
    Sab says:

    @Jay S: I think (hope) people change positions and just don’t announce it. I have changed positions many times over the last 12 years (!) I have been commenting on BJ but tonight was the first time I announced a change on position. Happened before, just didn’t think it was anyone else’s concern.

  61. 61
    opiejeanne says:

    @Mike J: I saw that at 4:30 when we were going to cross the 520, saw that the floating bridge on 90 was closed but I thought that had happened late in the afternoon. The water to the north of the 520 bridge was terribly choppy and we felt a strong blast of wind hit our pickup as we came out from under the last overpass and entered the bridge. It startled us. We saw there were no boats out then, just wondered if this morning there had been.

  62. 62
    Sab says:

    @Jay S: I think TV people search out stubborn pigheaded people to be on their panels for some weird reason that only TV execs understand.

  63. 63
    Jay S says:

    @Sab: Waffler! :) I’ll amend my observation that so few people admit their opinions changed on the web that one might wonder if the exchanges were scripted.

  64. 64
    Fair Economist says:

    @Sab:

    I think (hope) people change positions and just don’t announce it. I have changed positions many times over the last 12 years (!)

    Very few will admit they are wrong in a discussion. A few more will change their opinion later and admit they had been wrong before (I do this a lot myself). A significantly larger minority will switch sides without ever admitting they’d been wrong in the past. Not a ringing endorsement of human honesty and truthseeking, but it’s what we have to work with.

  65. 65
    Jay S says:

    @Sab: I’m not sure pig headed is quite right. They were originally a Frank Luntz panel, so they were definitely not ordinary, but the follow up and their interactions over the last year are odd. They are living in different universes of perception with a strange intersection point. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-follows-up-with-the-partisan-voters-in-michigan/

  66. 66
    zhena gogolia says:

    @jl:

    Hahaha, my thoughts exactly.

  67. 67
    chopper says:

    @opiejeanne:

    i had to drive down to auburn this weekend to pick up a couple thousand boxes of GS cookies. i drive a honda element which is about as aerodynamic as a brick. let’s just say the wind was…”fun”

  68. 68
    opiejeanne says:

    @chopper: Yes. So much fun. I used to commute through a very hilly area just outside Riverside that would channel the wind in a way that I had to fight to keep my little square Toyota Corona in the lane.
    I was surprised the truck presented enough of a “sail” for the wind to shove it like that.

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