“I was obsessively looking for sources and people to talk to, to bring the hacker mindset to the data security problem,” she knowledgeable CNBC in an distinctive interview. “I wanted to find those answers so that the detection system [for influence campaigns] could be improved.”
What she found have been of us with a varied set of experiences and opinions. But most of them in the end grew concerned with what they’ve been doing.
In some situations, the workers — who’ve been promised anonymity — had taken what they thought was a genuine job that then changed into one factor further sinister.
In one case, a worker took a spot serving to deal with the social media advertising marketing campaign of a neighborhood political candidate. After that candidate obtained, the individual stayed on staff, and shortly observed their job description change.
“They realized their day-to-day was now harassing journalists and circulating race threats to opponents,” she said. “The feeling was ‘oh my God, I woke up into a job that I hadn’t really signed up for.'”
Some had fully totally different motivations for sharing their tales. One “somewhat notorious hacker who is now in jail,” sought to “redeem himself, and be sure he was using his skillset for good.”
Some troll farm staff didn’t hail from Russia, nonetheless totally different locations, along with India, Ecuador and Mexico. Some of them moreover labored on social media campaigns for genuine firm purchasers whereas concurrently attempting to have an effect on the election.
She realized that the trolls normally researched American life so they could further efficiently pose as U.S. residents on-line. One key trick was to look at American TV reveals like House of Cards, she said.
François moreover obtained paperwork that principally described the enterprise model of a social media misinformation advertising marketing campaign.
The troll farm operation was “not unlike a very top-down, controlled social media strategy” of a large agency, she said. “The idea is to mimic the diversity of a crowd of people who go onto social media. The manuals and guidelines they would receive — they would say, ‘today on this topic, you are going to post the following rebuttals and use the following codes in your comments.'”
But mimicking an actual, pure social movement is more durable when researchers take a look on the broader, full scope of data, François said. So the teachings from this evaluation advertising marketing campaign are likely to help set up faux, foreign-influenced social campaigns ultimately.