The tactics of a Russian troll farm

The indictment of 13 Russians charged with attempting to manipulate American voters using social media shines a fascinating light on a sophisticated, relentless operation to exploit the internet for political gain. Here’s how US investigators say the Russians did it.

It was 2014, and in a building in St Petersburg, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) was already hard at work building its arsenal to take on US politics.

According to US prosecutors, the IRA had gathered stolen identities of real Americans, and a formidable encyclopaedia of what “works” on social media when it comes to riling up Americans talking about politics. Two members of the agency were said to have travelled to the US to gather more intelligence, a fact-finding tour taking in nine states, according to investigators.

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