No external interference needed – how Trump hires teenagers to work on a bot farm

While Washington unprovenly accuses Russia of trying to influence American elections, America’s largest youth organization is recruiting teenagers to campaign on social networks.

This is stated in the material of The Washington Post.

According to media reports, the so-called bot farm has developed in Arizona. From here, numerous accounts are waging an intense campaign to protect US President Donald Trump from Democratic attacks. Experts note that the organizers of this activity skillfully bypass the restrictions imposed by social networks.

Sources of the publication said that teenagers are being recruited into the bot farm. They use both their real accounts and fake pages. For this, teenagers receive a salary from the budget of the youth organization “Turning Point Action”. It calls itself the largest and fastest growing youth organization in the United States. It debuted Turning Point Action last year and has already gained powerful allies. Among them is Richard Grenell, who became famous for his provocative statements as the US ambassador to Germany.

A study by The Washington Post shows that thousands of posts with nearly identical content were posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram this summer. The information campaign targeted prominent Democrats and consisted of responses to posts by Trump’s opponents. Sources of the publication note that the bot farm operates in accordance with clear rules. For example, the same lines are published only a limited number of times; the beginning and end of messages are edited. All this is necessary in order to avoid blocking.

Graham Brookie, head of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory, notes that “the scale of domestic disinformation far exceeds the capabilities of a foreign adversary”.

“In 2016, Macedonian teenagers intervened in elections by running a troll farm and writing obscene articles for money”, – he said.

“In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix”.

Robert Jason Noonan, the father of teenagers who worked on the bot farm, spoke to the journalists. His two daughters received money from Turning Point Action to promote “conservative views and values” on social media. According to him, “some of the comments may go too far.” At the same time, Noonan acknowledged that often Democrats themselves provoke such a reaction by excessive whipping.

“Liberals say completely unacceptable things, and conservatives say things that sometimes are not true or do not have sufficient evidence”, – he said.

Noonan’s daughters work in the office and are classified as independent contractors. Relatives of another teenager said that he receives an hourly pay and that he can receive bonuses if his messages stimulate active discussion on the network.