Troll farm

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A troll farm or troll factory is an institutionalised group of internet trolls that seeks to interfere in political opinions and decision-making.[1]

One study showed that 30 governments worldwide (out of 65 covered by the study) paid keyboard armies to spread propaganda and attack critics.[2] According to the report, these governments use paid commentators, trolls, and bots to harass journalists and erode trust in the media. Attempts were made to influence elections in 18 of the countries covered by the study.[2]


In February 2020, the New York Times interviewed 10 ex-People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) members who said that the MEK's Albania camp had a troll farm that promoted the opinions of MEK supporters, including Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton, and attacked the Iranian government. The MEK claimed that the former members were Iranian government spies.[3]


It has been widely suspected that Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro and his family created troll farms to promote support for his government policies and to attack and harass rivals through the internet. These fake accounts and bots are possibly controlled by an office inside one of Bolsonaro's government buildings led by Jair's son Carlos known as 'gabinete do ódio' (bureau of hatred), which is suspected to have created more than a thousand fake accounts to support Bolsonaro's government.[4]

Troll accounts have also been linked to misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, as Bolsonaro's government is known for having adopted a denialist and weak posture regarding the pandemic.[5]


India's ruling party BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi institutionalized Twitter trolls to support its agenda and attack political rivals. Their methods were recorded by investigative journalist Swati Chaturvedi who also wrote a book on the subject, I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP's Digital Army. [6]



Finnish investigative journalist Jessika Aro interviewed workers at a “troll factory” in Saint Petersburg. Aro was harassed online after she published her story.[7] A court in Helsinki convicted three persons who had harassed Aro on charges of defamation and negligence.[8]

Aro has stated that online trolls can negatively affect freedom of speech and democracy.[9]

North Macedonia[edit]

At the town of Veles, locals launched at least 140 United States political websites supporting Donald Trump.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook found that troll farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation. The publisher, which used content from these farms, was banned.[16]


The Philippines has been called "patient zero in the global disinformation epidemic."[17] Studies into the country's troll farms found that political campaigns pay trolls $1,000 to $2,000 per month to create multiple fake social media accounts to post political propaganda and attack critics.[17][18] The political campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte has spent $200,000 to hire online trolls, according to one study.[19] Duterte admitted to hiring trolls for his 2016 political campaign.[20][21]

Since then, trolling behaviour supportive of Duterte has been traced back to taxpayer-funded government institutions.[22]


The Russian web brigades, including Internet Research Agency, became known in the late 2010s for the Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[1] The Internet Research Agency has employed troll armies to spread propaganda, command Twitter trends, and sow fear and erode trust in American political and media institutions.[23]


Turkey is also strongly suspected to have troll farms.[24][25]



  1. ^ a b "Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election - World news - The Guardian". 26 November 2017. Archived from the original on 26 November 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Titcomb, James (2017-11-14). "Governments in 30 countries are paying 'keyboard armies' to spread propaganda, report says". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  3. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (2020-02-16). "Highly Secretive Iranian Rebels Are Holed Up in Albania. They Gave Us a Tour". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2020-02-16. Retrieved 2020-02-16.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Schultz, Teri (October 17, 2018). "Pro-Kremlin online harassment on trial in Finland". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  8. ^ Staudenmaier, Rebecca (October 18, 2018). "Court in Finland finds pro-Kremlin trolls guilty of harassing journalist". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  9. ^ Miller, Nick (2016-03-11). "Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro's inquiry into Russian trolls stirs up a hornet's nest". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  10. ^ "How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News". BuzzFeed News.
  11. ^ Tynan, Dan (August 24, 2016). "How Facebook powers money machines for obscure political 'news' sites". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  12. ^ Remnick, David. "Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency". The New Yorker.
  13. ^ Subramanian, Samanth (February 15, 2017). "Meet the Macedonian Teens Who Mastered Fake News and Corrupted the US Election" – via
  14. ^ Kirby, Emma Jane (December 5, 2016). "The city getting rich from fake news" – via
  15. ^ "Subscribe to read | Financial Times". Cite uses generic title (help)
  16. ^ Collins, Ben; Zadrozny, Brandy (May 20, 2020). "Troll farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation on Facebook". NBC News.
  17. ^ a b Bengali, Shashank; Halper, Evan (2019-11-19). "Troll armies, a growth industry in the Philippines, may soon be coming to an election near you". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  18. ^ Williams, Sean (2017-01-04). "Rodrigo Duterte's Army of Online Trolls". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  19. ^ Matsuzawa, Mikas (July 24, 2017). "Duterte camp spent $200,000 for troll army, Oxford study finds". Philstar. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  20. ^ Mongaya, Karlo Mikhail (2017-08-09). "Philippines' 'troll-in-chief'? Duterte admits hiring defenders during polls". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  21. ^ Ranada, Pia. "Duterte says online defenders, trolls hired only during campaign". Rappler. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  22. ^ Lalu, Gabriel Pabico (September 29, 2020). "Duterte tells Facebook: Why keep operating in PH if you can't help us?". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  23. ^ Prier, Jarred (2017). "Commanding the Trend: Social Media as Information Warfare". Strategic Studies Quarterly. 11 (4): 50–85. ISSN 1936-1815.
  24. ^ "A Global Guide to State-Sponsored Trolling". 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  25. ^ Benedictus, Leo (2016-11-06). "Invasion of the troll armies: 'Social media where the war goes on'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-12.