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Some outlandish and extreme comment responses left a reporter from The Atlantic wondering exactly who these people are that attack comment walls in such a strong, offensive manner; there had to be more to their identity than just anonymous ‘trolls’.
Well, it turns out that the Russian government hires some people to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day leaving hundreds of comments that criticize any Russian oppositions.
Paid, pro-government commenters aren’t a new phenomenon in Russia, and similar practices are widespread in countless countries. In their Freedom on the Net report released last week, the NGO Freedom House said the strategy has been on the rise over the past two years, and is now rampant in 22 of the 60 countries the group examined. China, Bahrain, and Russia are at the forefront of this practice, Freedom House wrote.
So Russia isn’t the only country jumping on this new trend. The purpose, or at least outcome, of these overly-aggressive comments are to drown out the more sensible commenters and finally prevent them from commenting at all – not to mention the obvious attempt at patriotism by ‘fighting’ others who oppose your country… via comments.
Some may say this does not have a very big effect; however, seeing how this trend is growing, what if it gets to the point where the once democratized, open community of public commenting & dialogue gets drowned out by paid, propaganda-driven posts – sometimes very hostile.
Also, it’s an important point to make that these are not being funded by a private company, sect, etc., but the Russian government.