May 31, 2016

"Abusive online harassment is hardly limited to pro-Russian Internet trolls."

NY Times: Ukraine and other countries at odds with the Kremlin also have legions of aggressive avengers on social media. By ANDREW HIGGINS

'But pro-Russian voices have become such a noisy and disruptive presence that both NATO and the European Union have set up special units to combat what they see as a growing threat not only to civil discourse but to the well-being of Europe’s democratic order and even to its security.

'This “information war,” said Rastislav Kacer, a veteran diplomat who served as Slovakia’s ambassador to Washington and at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, “is just part of a bigger struggle.” While not involving bloodshed, he added, it “is equally as dangerous as more conventional hostile action.”

'For Ms. [Jessikka] Aro, the abuse increased sharply last year when, following up on reports in the opposition Russian news media, she visited St. Petersburg to investigate the workings of a Russian “troll factory.” The big office churns out fake news and comment, particularly on Ukraine, and floods websites and social media with denunciations of Russia’s critics.

'In response to her reporting, pro-Russian activists in Helsinki organized a protest outside the headquarters of Yle, accusing it of being a troll factory itself. Only a handful of people showed up.'

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