Why the Techniques of Troll Farms are not Wholly New

Cover of This is Not PropagandaThis is the St Petersburgh troll farm, from where much of Russia’s social media campaigns of disinformation are waged. It features in the opening chapter of Peter Pomerantsev’s new exploration of the contemporary ‘war against reality’, This is Not Propaganda – but Guy Woodward of our Political Warface Executive project argues that these methods are not wholly new.

In his post at the PWE blog, Guy suggests that:

Pomerantsev’s investigations …suggest some intriguing echoes of the wartime activities of the PWE in today’s highly-networked disinformation campaigns.

These include the affinities between today’s troll farms and Second World War clandestine radio stations, and the ways in which trolling and wartime campaigns both depended upon seeding disinformation as seemingly produced by ordinary people on social media, or in rumours and gossip. As Guy concludes, “There’s no evidence that any of the contemporary practitioners of online disinformation and subversion were directly influenced by the PWE’s campaigns, but it is striking and troubling to see similar tactics at work.”

Read the rest of Guy’s post over at the PWE blog.

Peter Pomerantsev is appearing at Durham Book Festival on Sunday 6th October to talk about the ‘war against reality’ today.

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