04 October 2021

Foreign "troll firms" run Facebook's Christian pages

As reported by MIT Technology Review:
In the run-up to the 2020 election, the most highly contested in US history, Facebook’s most popular pages for Christian and Black American content were being run by Eastern European troll farms. These pages were part of a larger network that collectively reached nearly half of all Americans, according to an internal company report, and achieved that reach not through user choice but primarily as a result of Facebook’s own platform design and engagement-hungry algorithm...

Troll farms—professionalized groups that work in a coordinated fashion to post provocative content, often propaganda, to social networks—were still building massive audiences by running networks of Facebook pages. Their content was reaching 140 million US users per month—75% of whom had never followed any of the pages. They were seeing the content because Facebook’s content-recommendation system had pushed it into their news feeds...

The report found that troll farms were reaching the same demographic groups singled out by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA) during the 2016 election, which had targeted Christians, Black Americans, and Native Americans...

As of October 2019, around 15,000 Facebook pages with a majority US audience were being run out of Kosovo and Macedonia, known bad actors during the 2016 election.

Collectively, those troll-farm pages—which the report treats as a single page for comparison purposes—reached 140 million US users monthly and 360 million global users weekly. Walmart’s page reached the second-largest US audience at 100 million.

The troll farm pages also combined to form:
*the largest Christian American page on Facebook, 20 times larger than the next largest—reaching 75 million US users monthly, 95% of whom had never followed any of the pages.

*the largest African-American page on Facebook, three times larger than the next largest—reaching 30 million US users monthly, 85% of whom had never followed any of the pages.

*the second-largest Native American page on Facebook, reaching 400,000 users monthly, 90% of whom had never followed any of the pages.

*the fifth-largest women’s page on Facebook, reaching 60 million US users monthly, 90% of whom had never followed any of the pages.
More at the link; I don't want to borrow too much.  The source article is worth reading and worth sharing.  Top image from the via.

Sorry for all the gloom and doom posts today, but we are really so fucked...


  1. Yes we are fucked. There are those who've long said that the unvarnished truth will depress people and discourage them from making change. But, at some point, this approach, having inevitably failed, we cross a threshold where no marketing spin toward optimism can be taken seriously. I've been saying "we are fucked" since about 1968, when I was 12. Lately, there's been an exponential increase in fellow travelers. Sometimes from unexpected quarters. Gurus of environmental grief have been around for awhile. Maybe a long while. Grief seems an appropriate response, though I doubt I'll ever read another book on the subject.

  2. A bunch of religious people are extra susceptible to woo? Whodathunkit?


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