Friday, 9 December 2011

Russian Launches a Troll Bomb

"Hijacked PCs may have helped drown out on line chat about Russian election protests, say security experts.

The computers were used to disrupt Twitter as Russians chatted about ongoing protests in Moscow's Triumphal Square, said security firm Trend Micro.

Analysis of the many pro-Kremlin messages posted to some discussions suggested they were sent by machines.

Russian activists said thousands of Twitter accounts were being used to drown out genuine dissent.
BBC News - Russian Twitter political protests 'swamped by spam'

We call this a Troll Bomb, and we saw it first deployed by supporters of the Bahrain Regime this Spring.

The concept of a Troll Bomb is rather simple, one that advantages institutions and regimes over protesters on social networks. The simplest form of a Troll Bomb is to have hundreds of people target a social network as participants. Their target then becomes the social cohesion of the group and its public reputation.

Troll Bombs aim to subvert the two things social networks give new political groups: 

  • the ability to form agile consensus; 
  • and the ability to publish to the public. 

In the case of Bahrain a major target was westerners who were sympathetic to the cause of the people of Bahrain. This was a small enough group that it could be done manually. In the case of Russia a new kind of Troll Bomb was created, with a bot attack being launched to flood Twitter with pro-Putin messages. Like all exercise of power in the 21st Century it is clumsy compared to the agility of resistance, but it still might work.

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