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UK accuses 'sick Russian troll factory' of 'plaguing social media with propaganda'

After funding expert research into the organization, Britain accused a Russian troll factory of “plaguing social networks with Kremlin propaganda”.

Cyber Front Z is also known as the insignia of the invading troops in Ukraine. It was first discovered by Fontanka, a news organization based in St Petersburg.

According to the Foreign Office, its research revealed that the Kremlin was spreading lies via social media and comment sections. However, the department did no identify the researchers or explain why they were experts for their security.

Fontanka says Cyber Front Z advertises jobs on Telegram’s social media platform Telegram. Workers must post 200 comments per day to platforms like Instagram and YouTube to earn 45,000 roubles per month, or about PS500.


Information warfare is waged from an old arms factory

According to reports, its headquarters will be in St Petersburg’s Arsenal Machine-building Factory. This is a facility that produces military equipment and technology.

Fontanka’s undercover reporter spent a month at the organization’s premises and discovered that professional trolls have accounts so they can use their computers for many purposes. This includes amplifying Russian propaganda and attacking those who disagree with it.

Read more about Russia

The report also connected the new operation with the Internet Research Agency, a private organization that was also based out of St Petersburg. It was allegedly headed by Evgeny Prgozhin who is accused of interfering with the 2016 US presidential election that saw Donald Trump win.

Continue reading: Why disinformation campaigns are so helpful to hostile states

According to the Foreign Office, these trolls “ruthlessly targeted politicians and audiences in a variety of countries, including the UK and South Africa”.

Although Britain has pledged to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, South Africa and India have been criticised for not condemning the invasion.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated that the Kremlin, its shady trolling farms and their lies about Putin’s illegal War cannot be allowed to infiltrate our online spaces.

She said that the UK government had alerted international partners. They will continue to work closely alongside allies and media platforms in order to subvert Russian information operations.

“Putin’s propaganda machines are deceiving all the world”

Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary, said that these are insidious attempts of Putin and his propaganda machine deceived the world about the brutality that he is inflicting upon the people of Ukraine.

“This evidence will assist us in more effectively identifying and removing Russian disinformation. It follows our decisive action against anyone doing business with Kremlin controlled outlets RT or Sputnik.”

Telegram uses Cyber Front Z as its name to recruit and organize people to amplify pro-Putin content, and attack critics of the Russian president.

Continue reading: What does the letter “Z” mean in Russia?

According to the British government, it will share its research findings with major social media platforms. Sky News was told by sources involved in countering Russian trolling at two of these platforms that Cyber Front Z was well-known to them.

They rejected the suggestion of the Foreign Office that the trolls using VPNs to hide their true location was a key tactical innovation – Facebook claimed it had identified and suspended accounts using VPNs it connected with the Internet Research Agency in 2018.


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