Russian Social Media Disruption Report

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Lost Books
18 min readNov 25, 2017


If you’ve participated at all in comments online over the past year, the certainty is near 100% that you’ve seen other people called or have been called yourself, a “troll,” “shill,” or maybe even a <gasp> “Russian.”

Accusations like these are rampant online, as is the paranoia which fosters them, thanks in no small part to a cloud of sensationalist media coverage and our seemingly intrinsic need to find bad guys lurking around every corner…

Part 1: Disrupting democracy

Showtime’s most recent season of Homeland — season 6, episode 9 (2017) — portrays a shadowy quasi-governmental, private tech startup called the Office of Policy Coordination. Located six floors underground in a nondescript office building outside Washington, DC, the company is found to be responsible for secretly running a massive army of phony sock-puppet accounts across social media, posing as ordinary people in order to advance a nefarious political agenda.

Here’s a two minute clip for reference:

Airing originally in March of this year, the subplot is obviously inspired by events which transpired in cyberspace around the 2016 U.S. presidential election (along with Brexit, and possibly others), where malicious state-sponsored actors allegedly attempted to disrupt the democratic process.

We know the real world analogue of Homeland’s fictional Office of Policy Coordination to be the now infamous Internet Research Agency, or as they’re sometimes called in the media, the ‘Trolls from Olgino.’

Given the confusing, conflicting, and convoluted information out there about this alleged Russian interference, I took it upon myself to do the only logical thing any normal person would do: make a Carrie Mathison-style “crazy wall” inside my shed next to my chicken coop to try and sort it all out.