The social media accounts of electronic music pioneers Daft Punk, David Guetta and TiÃ«sto have reportedly been the target of a disinformation operation launched by internet trolls in St Petersburg, Russia.
According to The Guardian, the “troll factory” is linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Internet Research Agency. The organization had been suspected of interfering in the 2016 US elections, according to the U.S. House of Representatives Standing Select Committee on Intelligence.
The IRA’s headquarters are believed to be in space rented from St Petersburg’s Arsenal Machine-Building Plant, which manufactures military equipment and technology.
Daft Punk, Guetta and TiÃ«sto were apparently just some of the many targeted in the attacks. The social media accounts of prominent political figures such as Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany; and Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief were also attacked.
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Sources say the purpose of the attacks, which were uncovered through research by the British government, is to spread disinformation about Putin’s actions. controversial and devastating invasion of Ukraine on social networks. The troll factory operatives reportedly aligned themselves with legitimate social media users who also spread pro-Kremlin narratives, a move that likely allowed them to evade the platforms’ misinformation policies, for example. The Guardian.
The research, which the Foreign Office declined to identify due to security concerns, also reportedly found that TikTok influencers were being paid to escalate pro-Kremlin narratives. The troll factory is said to “recruit and hire salaried workers openly, justifying the work as a ‘patriotic activity’ in support of ‘the special military operation’ in Ukraine.”
“We cannot allow the Kremlin and its shady troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin’s illegal war,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “The UK government has alerted its international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations.”