Troll farm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

Freedom House's report 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]




It has been widely suspected that Brazil's former 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 'office of hate',[3] 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]


"50 Cent Party" is a term used for online users who have been hired by the authorities of the People's Republic of China to manipulate public opinion and disseminate disinformation to the benefit of the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


India's ruling party BJP has a large number of online supporters who support its agenda and attack political rivals. Their methods were recorded by investigative journalist Swati Chaturvedi, who described them as a "digital army" in her book on the subject, I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP's Digital Army.[6]


In 2022, Meta Platforms announced that it has removed hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts that were directly linked with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), as they were used as part of a troll farm to disseminate propaganda and manipulate public discourse about the Malaysian police and the government.[7] Meta added that such actions were against its policy of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour".[8]


In November 2021, Facebook reported that it closed accounts, groups and pages in Facebook and Instagram linked to a troll farm operated by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the ruling party in Nicaragua.[9]


The Philippines has been called "patient zero in the global disinformation epidemic."[10] 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.[10][11] The political campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte has spent $200,000 to hire online trolls, according to one study.[12] Duterte admitted to hiring trolls for his 2016 political campaign.[13][14]

Since then, trolling behaviour supportive of Duterte has been traced back to taxpayer-funded government institutions.[15]


The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. The building is now for rent.

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.[16]


The ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey has a troll farm commonly known as AK Trolls.[17][18]



Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians actively use [ru] "troll factories" for their business and political purposes. Journalists from Radio Liberty note that the services of trolls, among others, were used by such oligarchs as Rinat Akhmetov and Ihor Kolomoyskyi.[19] In the fall of 2019, two large-scale journalistic investigations about “troll factories” in Ukraine were published.[20]

Non government entities[edit]

Coronavirus disinformation[edit]

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.[21]

Harassment of Jessikka Aro[edit]

Finnish investigative journalist Jessikka Aro interviewed workers at a “troll factory” in Saint Petersburg. Aro was harassed online after she published her story.[22] A court in Helsinki convicted three persons who had harassed Aro on charges of defamation and negligence.[23] Aro has stated that online trolls can negatively affect freedom of speech and democracy.[24]

People's Mujahedin of Iran[edit]

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.[25] In the March 2021 CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior) report, Facebook announced that it removed hundreds of accounts, pages and groups in both Facebook and Instagram which were in a troll farm in Albania, operated by MEK.[26]

Pro-Trump misinformation[edit]

At the town of Veles, locals launched at least 140 United States political websites supporting Donald Trump.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

Turning Point[edit]

During the 2020 United States presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic, Turning Point USA and its affiliate Turning Point Action were described as troll farms for paying young conservatives in Phoenix, Arizona, some of them minors with parental support, to post misinformation about the integrity of the electoral process and the threat of COVID-19. The payout included bonuses for posts that generated greater engagement. They used their own social media accounts or fake accounts without disclosing their relationship with Turning Point and were instructed by Turning Point to slightly alter and repost the modified messages a limited number of times to avoid automatic detection.[33][34]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Rosati, Andrew; Lima, Mario (22 June 2020). "In Hunt for 'Office of Hate,' Brazil's Supreme Court Closes In". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 4 February 2021. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  4. ^ Freitas, Carolina (3 April 2021). "55% de publicações pró-Bolsonaro são feitas por robôs" [55% of pro-Bolsonaro publications are made by robots]. Globo (in Portuguese). Valor Econômico. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  5. ^ Mello, Patrícia (4 August 2020). "Brazil's Troll Army Moves Into the Streets". The New York Times (Opinion piece). São Paulo. Archived from the original on 16 September 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  6. ^ Sanghvi, Vir (29 December 2016). "I am a troll: Inside the secret world of BJP's digital army". Business Standard India.
  7. ^ Babulal, Veena (5 August 2022). "Meta removes Malaysian 'troll farm' Facebook, Instagram accounts, some with links to police". New Straits Times. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  8. ^ H. Rodzi, Nadirah (5 August 2022). "Malaysian police allegedly linked to 'troll farm' on Facebook, Instagram". The Straits Times. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  9. ^ "Nicaragua: Facebook accuses government of ties to shuttered accounts". Deutsche Welle. 2021-11-02. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Williams, Sean (2017-01-04). "Rodrigo Duterte's Army of Online Trolls". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  12. ^ Matsuzawa, Mikas (July 24, 2017). "Duterte camp spent $200,000 for troll army, Oxford study finds". Philstar. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  13. ^ Mongaya, Karlo Mikhail (2017-08-09). "Philippines' 'troll-in-chief'? Duterte admits hiring defenders during polls". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  14. ^ Ranada, Pia (25 July 2017). "Duterte says online defenders, trolls hired only during campaign". Rappler. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  15. ^ Lalu, Gabriel Pabico (September 29, 2020). "Duterte tells Facebook: Why keep operating in PH if you can't help us?". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  16. ^ Prier, Jarred (2017). "Commanding the Trend: Social Media as Information Warfare". Strategic Studies Quarterly. 11 (4): 50–85. ISSN 1936-1815. JSTOR 26271634.
  17. ^ "A Global Guide to State-Sponsored Trolling". 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2020-05-12.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Иванцова, Анастасия (2015-05-31). "Особенности украинского троллинга". Радио Свобода (in Russian). Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  20. ^ ""Фабрики тролів" - новий стандарт у політичному піарі? – DW – 17.12.2019". (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  21. ^ Collins, Ben; Zadrozny, Brandy (May 20, 2020). "Troll farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation on Facebook". NBC News.
  22. ^ Schultz, Teri (October 17, 2018). "Pro-Kremlin online harassment on trial in Finland". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  23. ^ Staudenmaier, Rebecca (October 18, 2018). "Court in Finland finds pro-Kremlin trolls guilty of harassing journalist". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2020-05-23.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Facebook March 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report
  27. ^ "How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News". BuzzFeed News. 3 November 2016.
  28. ^ Tynan, Dan (August 24, 2016). "How Facebook powers money machines for obscure political 'news' sites". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  29. ^ Remnick, David (18 November 2016). "Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency". The New Yorker.
  30. ^ Subramanian, Samanth (February 15, 2017). "Meet the Macedonian Teens Who Mastered Fake News and Corrupted the US Election". Wired – via
  31. ^ Kirby, Emma Jane (December 5, 2016). "The city getting rich from fake news". BBC News.
  32. ^ Byrne, Andrew (16 December 2016). "Macedonia's fake news industry sets sights on Europe". Financial Times.
  33. ^ Stanley-Becker, Isaac (15 September 2020). "Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a 'troll farm,' prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 4 November 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2021. In 2016, there were Macedonian teenagers interfering in the election by running a troll farm...In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix.
  34. ^ Wong, Julia (11 June 2021). "Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats". The Guardian. San Francisco. Retrieved 26 September 2021. Rally Forge ... established a domestic 'troll farm' in Phoenix, Arizona, that employed teenagers to churn out pro-Trump social media posts, some of which cast doubt on the integrity of the US election system or falsely charged Democrats with attempting to steal the election