Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stories From Inside the Putin Propaganda Machine

By Polly Mosendz 3/27/15, Newsweek

Recalling the mentality inside Russia’s government-sanctioned Internet propaganda system, Marat Burkhard told Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFERL): “Whatever we're told, that's what we'll write about, no questions asked, and we don't want to know."

The so-called Internet Research center’s various departments are all dedicated to promoting positive images of Russia, and especially of President Vladimir Putin. According to RFERL, the center has departments dedicated to sending out tweets and to posting comments on news websites such as BBC and CNN and on municipal website forums. Some employees also maintain fake accounts on Facebook, LiveJournal and vKontakte (the Russian version of Facebook).

Burkhard said he was part of the system for two months, earning $700 a month; managers earn almost double that, a substantial wage in Russia. He said he went through a strenuous interview process.

“You have to write sample texts first, and then they decide if you're suitable for the work. They weed people out that way,” he told RFERL. “First they make you write something neutral--Vegetarianism: Pros And Cons. After that, the assignments start to get more to the point; for example, what do I think about humanitarian convoys in Donetsk?”

Burkhard said he is generally pro-Western, but he did not allow this to affect his interview process. After being hired, he was assigned to a 20-employee department that posts comments on municipal websites in Russia. Burkhard worked 12-hour shifts during which he had to write 135 comments, each at least 200 characters long.

(More here.)

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