Russians are messing with sports. That sentence sounds weird, but it’s true. Without hopping to far into politics (we are sticking to sports), we have heard about Russians spreading fake news and influencing Americans on social media for the last year. It is kind of like a guerilla marketing campaign, except instead of getting you interested in a stupid Kickstarter, it is funded by millions of rubles to influence you.
If you rewind a year, you might have seen some offhand mentions that certain political Twitter trends were originating in weird cities in Russia. That was easily brushed off, as voters were of course in America. The election is long over, but the Russian trolls are still on social media. In fact, they are spilling over into football.
Hey Boris, football is ours!
These dang Millennials are killing everything! Thanks, Boston Antifa, which is obviously posted from... Vladivostok, Russia? I haven’t heard of that particular part of Boston, and I don’t doubt that they love Tom Brady there. As an aside, could Patriots fans literally get any more annoying? Actually, I’d appreciate them more if they were just paid trolls operated from some random city in Russia.
Most people typically post without geotagging, probably because they have some weird thing about being murdered by someone on the internet. It’s still available, and every once in awhile, these troll accounts accidentally turn it on. You find out that the blue collar guy tweeting out countless articles to popular accounts is not tweeting from Rhode Island, but actually somewhere in Russia.
Those silly Antifa kids are back it again. They are annoying, violent, and tweeting from deep in Russia as a part of a ring of twitter accounts pushing the same fake info. Antifa Boston was banned after their flub, but they are still missed by a fake group of people that are very triggered by NFL news.
We have had been seeing some fake news popping up around the site (OK, mostly on our Facebook page), so let me help you out. We finally provide some commentary on the players kneeling, and we get Russian trolls immediately in the comments. No, Jerry Jones did not say he would cut any player that did not stand for the flag. No, there is not an NFL rule requiring players to stand for the flag. Yes, Pat Tillman’s wife asked people to stop using her husband’s memory to divide people.
What can you do to make sure you don’t fall for some Russian troll making minimum wage a few thousand miles away? The best I can tell, you have two types of trolls.
The first is a bot that tweets either a ton of photos/memes/links at different accounts, or looks for search terms and responds accordingly. Does this account have 50,000 tweets and only a few hundred followers? Do their conversations not make sense? You could definitely be talking a computer program. The second is an actual person, and is really tougher to identify.
I’d be wary of articles from places you have never heard of. If you are wondering if something is true, you can usually find out with a quick Google search. Definitely do that before sharing anything. Be skeptical of anything that is a little too spot on, especially if it’s something that would be picked up by other news outlets.