Pro-Kremlin trolls target news website comments, researchers

 
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MessaggioInviato: Mar Set 07, 2021 10:21 am    Oggetto: Pro-Kremlin trolls target news website comments, researchers
 
Pro-Kremlin trolls target news website comments, researchers say



A major operation to influence public opinion saw comments posted on Western media articles in support of Russian interests, according
to new research.

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Cardiff University's Crime and Security Research Institute found 32 prominent media websites across 16 countries were targeted including
Mail Online, the Express and the Times.

The comments were fed back into Russian-language media outlets as the basis for stories, researchers said.

The tactic was spotted this year.

But the operation is believed to have been escalating since at least 2018 and recently focused on the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In one example highlighted by the researchers, a Mail Online story last month about the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan featured 2,500
comments from the public.

But some, it is alleged, were part of an organised Russian campaign.

By selecting a small number of comments, a Russian news article was then headlined: "The British have compared the rise of the Taliban
to power with the end of Western civilisation".

This, Cardiff researchers say, was one of 18 recent stories on the fall of Kabul that were produced using reader comments in the UK and US,
supporting Russia's narrative about the end of liberal democracy, the failure of Nato or made a link to the willingness to support Ukraine.

The Cardiff team say this was just the latest part of a long-running campaign.

They identified 242 stories where provocative pro-Russian or anti-Western statements were posted in reaction to articles relevant to Russia.

Researchers used pattern recognition techniques to analyse reader comments, which suggested some accounts were posting pro-Kremlin
content in an organised manner.
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