War in Ukraine: Britain Accuses ‘Sick Russian Troll Factory’ of ‘Wasting Social Media with Kremlin Propaganda’ | Science and technology news

Britain has accused a “sick Russian troll factory” of “plaguing social media with Kremlin propaganda” after funding what it said was expert research into the organization.

Known as Cyber ​​Front Z – adopting the military insignia worn by Russiainvading forces of Ukraine – was first discovered in March by the St Petersburg-based news organization Fontanka.

The Foreign Ministry said its research uncovered how the Kremlin was “spreading lies on social media and in the comment sections”, although for its safety, the department did not identify the researchers or explain why they were qualified as experts.

According to Fontanka, Cyber ​​Front Z is advertising jobs on the social media platform Telegram that require workers to post 200 comments every day on platforms like Instagram and YouTube for salaries of 45,000 rubles a month – around £500.

Information war being fought in the former weapons factory

Its headquarters are said to be located in a rented space at the Saint Petersburg Arsenal Machine Construction Factory, a company that manufactures military equipment and technology.

Fontanka’s undercover reporter worked at the organization’s premises for a month and found that professional trolls are billed to operate using their own computers for various purposes, including amplifying content favorable to the Russian narrative and attacking people who criticize it.

The report also linked the new operation to the Internet Research Agency – a private organization that was also based in St Petersburg and allegedly run by Evgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Putin – accused of interfering in US presidential elections in 2016 that saw Donald Trump win the presidency.

Read more: Why hyping up disinformation campaigns helps hostile states

The Foreign Office says these trolls have “ruthlessly targeted politicians and publics in a number of countries, including the UK, South Africa and India”.

Britain pledged to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion, although South Africa and India were criticized for not condemning the invasion.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We cannot allow the Kremlin and its troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin’s illegal war.”

“The UK government has alerted international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations,” he added.

‘Putin’s propaganda machine is deceiving the world’

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “These are insidious attempts by Putin and his propaganda machine to mislead the world about the brutality he is inflicting on the people of Ukraine.

“This evidence will help us more effectively identify and remove Russian disinformation and follows our decisive action to stop anyone from doing business with Kremlin-controlled RT and Sputnik stores.”

The name Cyber ​​Front Z is used by the Telegram channel which is trying to openly recruit and organize people to amplify pro-Putin content and attack critics of the Russian president.

Read more: Why is Russia using the letter ‘Z’ and what does it mean?

The British government says it will share its research with major social media platforms. Sources involved in fighting Russian trolls on two of these platforms told Sky News that they were very aware of Cyber ​​Front Z.

They rejected the Foreign Office’s suggestion that trolls using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to mask their real location was a “key tactical innovation” – Facebook said it identified and suspended accounts using VPNs linked to the Research Agency of the Internet in 2018.

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