“Texty” website team: Теxty.org.ua revealed a network of Russian “trolls” disguised as Ukrainian patriots


Kyiv, October 12, 2016. The team of Teksty.org.ua  website revealed  a network of Russian “trolls” in Facebook, stated Roman Kulchynskyi, senior editor of “Texty” website, at a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “This is only a small part of the Russian trolls. It is very special though. They are disguised as Ukrainian patriots, they post patriotic pictures and call for action against the Ukrainian political leadership,” explained Mr. Kulchynskyi. He said that the research had lasted six months. Experts have discovered 23 large Facebook groups with a high concentration of trolls among the members. Among the administrators of these groups are pro-Russian users, known by their participation in “Mazura network” *. Trolls reduce all topics to depriving Ukraine of statehood, such as the issue of disruption of mobilization. They constantly resort to insulting, reducing confidence in the political leadership of the country.

Mr. Kulchynskyi explained why such a network requires trolls. “Facebook sees that people like a post and make more users see it in their newsfeed. The main task is to take the “right” post and make it reach as many people on social networks as possible,” he noted.  It is also important for trolls to involve as many people as possible in spreading the necessary information. “The more friends they have, the greater the “authority” of the account in social media. The greater the authority, the more people are likely to see the post. A considerable part of trolls is 80% program-made. They perform simple functions: add friends, post links. When the time comes, someone appears and writes a necessary message,” explained Roman Kulchynskyi.

Anatoliy Bondarenko, director of the section “Data Journalism”, said that during the investigation they had developed a program that simulates browsing. They created a user with similar characteristics who behaved according to the behavior of troll. Meanwhile, the program downloaded data about users, their posts, comments, etc. After processing the information, specialists built a network. Unfortunately it also involved some real patriots who “respond to the situation in the country too emotionally, supporting the “third Maidan”.

Mazura – nickname of a pro-Russian militant who called for the “third Maidan” under the guise of a patriotic account