A Russian man who said he once worked as an internet troll claimed the nation’s propaganda factory produced a sex tape featuring a Hillary Clinton look-alike and an African-American man, among other accusations.
During an interview with an independent Russian TV channel, the former troll, Alan Baskaev, said he worked at Russia’s now infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA), which used social media to whip up discord and deepen political divides in the United States. The aim allegedly was to help Donald Trump defeat Clinton in last year’s election.
Baskaev told TV Rain the atmosphere was mostly jovial when he worked at the agency as a college student between November 2014 and April 2015. He said each of the trolls tried to think up some of the wildest ways they could get their job done. He gave the interview while in Thailand and did want his face shown, out of fear of retribution.
“You know, there’s this meme about the troll factory, people sitting in black caps, masks. Behind them there’s a photo of Putin and a Russian flag. They’re so intense,” Baskaev said, according to the Daily Beast. “I don’t know what happened on the day shift, but the night shift was a bacchanal. We did the most ridiculous things we could think of.”
The first of the trolls to speak out publicly, Baskaev said one of those ridiculous efforts was the fake video of a woman who looked like Clinton having sex with an African-American man. In fact, he said it was so ridiculous that “no one will believe that.”
Another troll video showed an African-American solider shooting a copy of the Koran, Islam’s holiest book, in a clear attempt to exploit social, religious and racial divides across the U.S.
Nearly a year since Clinton fell to Trump in the general election, details have begun to surface about Russia’s troll operation and how it exploited social media titans like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Facebook disclosed last month that more than 3,000 advertisements, costing upward of $100,000, were posted to its site by the Kremlin-backed IRA. The ads, which were tied to about 470 accounts and ran between June 2015 and May 2017, showed that Russia continued its aggressive tactics well after Trump won.
Rather than come out specifically for Trump, the Facebook ads focused on key national issues like gay rights and immigration, according to The New York Times.
Facebook later announced it was hiring more than 1,000 employees to monitor ads going forward. Twitter said on Thursday it would no longer allow ads from two Russian state-run online publications, RT and Sputnik International.
Twitter cited the U.S. intelligence community’s assertions that both websites spread disinformation, similar to the Russian trolls’ activities.