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Hacked Emails Reveal Russian Astroturfing Program 153

Posted by timothy
from the you're-putin-me-on dept.
gotfork writes "Quoting The Guardian: 'A pro-Kremlin group runs a network of internet trolls, seeks to buy flattering coverage of Vladimir Putin and hatches plans to discredit opposition activists and media, according to private emails allegedly hacked by a group calling itself the Russian arm of Anonymous.' While a similar program has operated in China for a long time, and some commentators have suggested that a similar program exists in Russia, this is the first confirmation."
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Hacked Emails Reveal Russian Astroturfing Program

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:47PM (#38988443) Homepage Journal

    All those action hero images of Putin weren't real?

    My faith in mankind is ruined.

    In Soviet Russia internet trolls YOU!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So... hacked Russian emails reveal politics are happening in Russia? Is that all this article's about?

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        So... hacked Russian emails reveal politics are happening in Russia? Is that all this article's about?

        It's more like the old days of the Cagey Bee, but with less of the Siberian Travel In Your Near Future found in fortune cookie.

        • Just like the "US Cybercommand".

          http://burka.blogspot.com/bushcodpiece1.jpg [blogspot.com]

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Just like every individual, group, organisation, corporation or government that ever goes to a Public Relations agency (correct abbreviation B$ 'lies for profit').

            Problem is they are always outnumbered. To win they have to buy off so many people it becomes pointless. Of course they are always looking at ways of cheating and introducing automation into the system, to make one person seem like thousands on the internet but the internet simply tightens up new enrolment methods to ensure real people and thos

      • Re:Nooo. Really? (Score:4, Informative)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @06:58PM (#38990021) Journal

        The point is that anti-opposition campaign in Russia has made a lot of claims that opposition demonstrations and online activity is all paid (the usual claim is that US Department of State is footing the bill), whereas the expression of admiration for the glorious leader is completely genuine.

  • by Tim the Gecko (745081) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:47PM (#38988455)
    ... bonchski is astroturfed by YOU!
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Internet troll running pro-Kremlin group, seeking to buy flattering coverage of Vladimir Putin, by hatching plans to discredit opposition activists and media, according to private emails allegedly hacked by a group calling itself the Russian arm of Anonymous operates program similar to long-time Chinese, which some commentators have suggested that a similar program exists in Russia, confirms for the first time YOU!

    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:17PM (#38988869)
      I'd just like to point out that since this activity is taking place in Russia, technically the correct term is not "astroturfing", it should be "cosmoturfing"
  • The horror! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:49PM (#38988471)

    I am disgusted to discover that a politician would hire people to say nice things about them and bad things about their opponents. This must stop at once.

    • Re:The horror! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532) * on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:57PM (#38988607)

      What's changed is that the pervasiveness of social media and the anonymity of the internet makes it so that waging an astroturfing PR campaign can be both harder to detect and much more effective. Basically, you should take everything and everyone online with a grain of salt (including me!).

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:27PM (#38988985) Homepage

        Basically, you should take everything and everyone online with a grain of salt (including me!).

        I bet the Salt Manufacturer's Association paid you to say that...

      • Basically, you should take everything and everyone online with a grain of salt (including me!).

        I see...and a grain of salt including you is a pretty large one, did I get it right?

      • by Spykk (823586)
        I have my doubts about just how effective astroturfing on slashdot is. When I see someone consistantly attacking the same organization for reasons that are often tangentially related to the story I have to assume they have some kind of agenda. Why would I value that person's opinions?
      • by smash (1351)
        Except for fox news. They're america's most fair and balanced news source.
    • Now, in the US! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zooblethorpe (686757) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:58PM (#38988621)

      I am disgusted to discover that a politician would hire people to say nice things about them and bad things about their opponents. This must stop at once.

      Indeed. In fact, I've got a lovely bridge to sell to anyone who thinks that something similar isn't already happening in the US, or really, in just about any Internet-savvy nation.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        We've already seen it over and over again here in the US with Microsoft, and that isn't even politics. (They even have an official name for their astroturfers: "Technical Evangelists") With all the campaign money that Obama's amassed, he's surely doing the same thing.

      • by Pecisk (688001)

        Why on every criticism on Russia there's usual comparing with US? In this case, heaviest astroturfing from Microsoft pales from organizational level of Kremlin "web force". These guys are full time, full convinced that they are doing right job, not some bored PR guys playing "casual users".

        • Re:Now, in the US! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Required Snark (1702878) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:38PM (#38990371)
          After the fall of the Soviet Bloc, both US and Russia and it's satellite states have followed a very similar course. The governments are merging with the money/power elites. In Russia they are relatively honest, and talk about the "oligarchs". In the US this is going on under the radar.

          There are differences. In Russia the oligarchs are untouchable as long as they don't challenge Putin politically or economically. All policy foreign and domestic is under sole control of the state.

          In the US it is the opposite. Large areas of government policy are being controlled by the corporate elites. That is was ACTA/SOPA/etc are all about, as is TARP and the ongoing bank/Wall Street bailout. The government is shielding corrupt and inefficient corporate entities from the consequences of their incompetent behavior.

          When Jamie Diamon, head of JPMorgan, said that "we have a right to make a profit", he was speaking literally. He thinks that the big banks are not subject to capitalism and should have guaranteed success. This is much closer to a feudal society, where the landed aristocracy always has the best, even when the peasants are starving. It is not capitalism, where failure is always an option. FDR called this "economic royalism", which is a good description of our current economic system.

          • by Pecisk (688001)

            You really *don't* have a fucking clue what's going on in Russia, do you? Completely empty buzzword comparison. While of course it's oligarchy, however it is totally different in execution.

            Believe me, what's going on with Capitalism in US and the world is bad enough on their own. There's no need to attach it to to every criticism on Russia :)

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I am disgusted to discover that a politician would hire people to say nice things about them and bad things about their opponents. This must stop at once.

      Things in Russia are more like they are now than they have ever been before.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am disgusted to discover that a politician would hire people to say nice things about them and bad things about their opponents. This must stop at once.

      Damned right it must stop. IBM has a patent on the process.

    • I am disgusted to discover that a politician would hire people to say nice things about them and bad things about their opponents. This must stop at once.

      It's not that which is the problem. It's that Putin, UR and people backing them claim "widespread popular support" as a justification for why they needn't bother dealing with the opposition at all. Some go further and claim that it even gives them legitimacy to crack down on the protests.

      If there's good evidence that said "popular support" is not genuine but just an expensive fake, it strongly undermines the legitimacy of the current government and their recent actions.

    • by Nephrite (82592)

      It is a good thing, really. Russian government shifts from killing, imprisoning and torturing its opponents to just dirty internet posts. There is a progress here.

  • Someone got hold of the emails which actually connected Russia and China to the AGW proponents, the circle would be complete. But, in general, I am anything but surprised.
  • by lxs (131946)

    I read that as "astrosurfing program" and it sounded a lot better than a couple of hired goons shilling for Uncle Vlad. Oh well...

    • I read that as "astrosurfing program" and it sounded a lot better than a couple of hired goons shilling for Uncle Vlad. Oh well...

      For make glorious People's Republic of Brah, brah.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170)

      I read that as "astrosurfing program" and it sounded a lot better than a couple of hired goons shilling for Uncle Vlad. Oh well...

      The word on the street is that you abuse houseplants and extort cheese from small rodents.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This lie! No such program exist. Subversive Western propaganda! Everyone love dear leader Putin. Da, comrades?

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Yes, just like everyone here in America loves dear leader Obama.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by wierd_w (1375923)

        Am I the only one who gigglesnorted after reading this?

        I don't want to sound trollish, but obama was practically heralded as the chosen one, and anyone who spoke out against him was reflexively labeled a racisist biggot.....

        So, now its perfectly possible to say he's a douche who shouldn't have been elected, and not be called a racisist fuck?

        When did that happen? I'm honestly curious.......

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Of course he should have been elected, at least once he made it past the primary. We're pretty much stuck electing Democrats until the Republicans marginalize the ignorant religious conservatives who have taken over their party. Being racist, superstitious, and still believing in trickle-down economics at this late date completely disqualifies them for office.

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            No, he never should have been elected. All the stuff that was levied against him back then, that he was inexperienced, had no real voting record ("present!"), that his connections were shady, were all true and smart voters should have picked someone else. There was a whole field of better Democrats running in the 2008 primaries, and every single one of them was better than Obama, but the stupid Democrat voters managed to pick the absolute worst choice of them all. Even Hillary would have been better, and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @04:55PM (#38988557)

    This could never happen in the USA.

    • by superwiz (655733)
      What exactly? US government putting on payrolls people who would troll the net trashing a particular country in order to benefit election outcomes of a political party in the US? Well, there is any number of laws which this would break in the US.
      • Bush did it and like everything else no laws apply to him. ever. Like Nixon said, its not illegal if the president does it.
        Only was caught with a half dozen or so; here is the top google result I found in no time: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/26/politics/main669432.shtml [cbsnews.com]

        • by superwiz (655733)

          Bush administration did NOT adapt the policy "if the President does it, it's not illegal." Your point about the columnist is very, very keen, but that administration did clear everything with lawyers. And employing a journalist to promote a life-style that HHS considers healthy (even if you disagree with that assessment) is a far, far cry from employing journalists to spread subversive information about other countries in order to influence elections in the home country. Having said that, I would agree

          • Your bias is showing. Obama IS using his lawyers and building upon what Bush did and taking it to the next logical step. He is not breaking the laws any more than Bush did (so yes, I think he is breaking them too;) he is a continuation, it is almost as if Bush was still in office on some issues. It is almost as if somebody else is running the agenda and either dictating policy moves or makes sure both parties think the same way on certain issues. It looks like a good cop bad cop situation to me; some see o

      • by smash (1351)
        The brainwashing over there in the states is sufficiently complete enough that you have enough xenophobic ass-clowns available to do it themselves WITHOUT pay.
      • by Xest (935314)

        There's laws against a lot of things in the US, but that's never stopped successive US governments breaking them.

  • Propaganda is only something for commies

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:05PM (#38988707) Journal

    This poor news coverage by _SLASHDOT_ is clearly aimed at making the Russian People's leader look bad to this _AMERICAN_ audience. As a Russian _MAN_ aged _32_, I can conclusively state that Mr. Putin has been a blessing to my country. I look forward to his continuing to lead us throught _2012_ and in the future.

    Signed,
    _MyLongNickName_

    • by superwiz (655733)
      Umm... cute. I assume you are trying to imply that you forgot to substitute the values of the macros in that post?
      • by iroll (717924)

        No, he's implying that he input values into blanks on a boilerplate response.

        • by JSG (82708)

          Gosh, isn't English subtle!

          You have managed to correct Mr 655733's interpretation of Mr 822545's comment with a functionally equivalent interpretation.

          As for Mr 822545 - he should have done a better job of underlining. He simply should have typed the words and then used backspace on his typewriter and then put in the underscores. Isn't progress great?

          Cheers
          Jon

          • by iroll (717924)

            Sort of; technically, I reversed part of his interpretation and clarified nuance in the rest. So, while some of the functions (macro vs. blank) might be equivalent, the interpretation is not. Viz.:

            • Mr. 655 thinks Mr. 822 was implying that he forgot to fill in the blanks. I believe the opposite, that Mr. 822 was implying that he was filling in blanks.
            • M4. 655 thinks that Mr. 822 was implying electronic substitution, whereas I believe that Mr. 822 was only implying blank-filling; this could be accomplished e
    • You forgot to mention that this slanderous publication was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense in order to destabilize progress and development in Russia.

      That's -50% from your pay, by the way. Be more attentive next time. ~

    • +6 Funny
  • They gotta be Putin us on!
  • I am a CIA plant. Prove me wrong.
  • Every political party in every country with internet in it has paid commenters. I believe most people here have already seen more than enough of them.

  • by garthsundem (1702946) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:31PM (#38989057) Homepage
    A country recently named a 2012 Top Cock-Blocker of Middle Eastern Democracy, is seeking a Public Relations Specialist to communicate to its internal, external, and exiled audiences. The position will be responsible for connecting with our 141,750,000+ domestic "employees", introducing new employees and interns to our country's unique culture, expanding its social networking reach, maintaining the corporate website, event planning, cultivating community relationships, responding to media inquiries, writing and disseminating press releases, coaching our subsidiaries on their individual PR needs, crushing dissent, and mentoring an intern. The ideal candidate is self-directed and self-motivated, resourceful, tactful, and enjoys kicking puppies. You must be a persuasive writer and speaker. Your success will be measured by your creativity and your ability to ruin the lives of dissenters and their extended families with little to no supervision. A college degree plus five years or more experience in a corporate PR or Spanish Inquisitional environment is required. Please submit a brief writing sample with your resume and your soul to PR@Putin.com. Salary commensurate with experience.
    • by smash (1351)
      I take issue with your use of "democracy". Military coup installed puppet governments don't really count.
  • by alexmin (938677) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @05:47PM (#38989213)

    To those who read Russian interwebs since '90 the rise of government astroturfing should have been obvious starting about '00. There was a marked change in tone and verbage of forum comments on different online forums. Such posters are called "brigades" and thought to be FSB operatives.

  • ....Ohhh, nevermind :)

    This is actually non-news. Everyone with long enough experience with web for last four years have seen them at almost any article or resource giving Russia, Soviet Union or Kremlin bad rep. Wikipedia articles about USSR or about Bolshevist crimes - those pages have experienced heavy shelling from these guys. They are obsessed with pointing that you are wrong, not they.

    I don't even care about them anymore. I'm just sad that such big country and yet they are living in paranoia, investing

    • I don't even care about them anymore. I'm just sad that such big country and yet they are living in paranoia, investing almost nothing in infrastructure, but in same time waste their money to play hardliners and allow people to die (yeah, about Syria), and meddling with politics in their neighborhood countries. You can't get your respect in such way.

      I hope you do understand the difference between "them" as in Russian government, and "them" as in Russian people - especially when the country is not exactly democratic. People are actively working [wikipedia.org] at changing that last part right now, which would hopefully also let us do something about those things you're complaining about, or at least some of them (I don't think a post-Putin Russia would back Assad, for example). But it doesn't help when you choose to "not care anymore".

    • by smash (1351)

      I don't even care about them anymore. I'm just sad that such big country and yet they are living in paranoia, investing almost nothing in infrastructure, but in same time waste their money to play hardliners and allow people to die (yeah, about Syria), and meddling with politics in their neighborhood countries. You can't get your respect in such way

      Sounds pretty much exactly the same as the USA to me. Replace Syria with, oh I dunno... Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, Same shit, different media spi

  • Russia and China also have super pacs.
  • by smash (1351) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @07:38PM (#38990383) Homepage Journal
    ... the last 50-60 years of western anti-soviet propaganda, its only fair.
  • by melted (227442) on Friday February 10, 2012 @01:13AM (#38992499) Homepage

    The difference between the US and this is that in Russia this is paid for with enormous amounts of taxpayer money (hired drummers alone at a pro-Puting meeting cost something like $800K), and people are threatened with pink slips at work unless they go to pro-government meetings. When you live hand to mouth and don't have any savings, the prospect of getting fired over some BS meeting is pretty scary. And when the election time rolls around, they stuff the ballot boxes, and then if that proves insufficient, simply rewrite final counts when no one is looking. That country is truly ruled by a bunch of crooks and thieves. Can't wait to see the Russian people to hang them on the "teeth" of the Kremlin wall. They did this a hundred years ago, they can do it again. Russia just can't catch a fucking break.

  • there is the so called main streme News knot.

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