Hillary Clinton was almost universally declared the winner of tonight’s debate by the mainstream media, but online polls and twitter trends said otherwise. The #TrumpWon hashtag soon began circulating and eventually was the top Trend in the United States.
The #1 trend on Twitter right now is #TrumpWon – thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2016
What’s curious about that is not that it was trending but where it originated from – which will come as quite a surprise:
That’s right- the #TrumpWon hashtag originated in St. Petersberg, Russia, where dictator Vladimir Putin is known to house his army of hundreds of paid cyber-trolls and bloggers, who work overtime to advance Putin’s agenda as part of a strategy known as dezinformatsiya. It’s a classic disinformation campaign working to sow discord and provoke conflict, to exacerbate divisions and amplify rivalries among the allies of those that would threaten Moscow. Putin’s trolls have already been caught flooding American social media circles with pro-Trump and pro-Putin propaganda as the Russian state-controlled media promotes Trump to their European audiences.
Putin is working hard to try to tip the scales in favor of Trump, who he knows he can manipulate into lifting the harsh economic sanctions level led against Russian oligarchs by the Obama administration after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and will turn a blind eye to further Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.
The Guardian reached out to some ex-bloggers and they described their working conditions as those akin to an internet sweat shop: “humourless and draconian, with fines for being a few minutes late or not reaching the required number of posts each day. Trolls worked in rooms of about 20 people, each controlled by three editors, who would check posts and impose fines if they found the words had been cut and pasted, or were ideologically deviant.”
So remember – don’t trust online polls or argue with idiots in the comments section. It might be a Russian blogger making $800 a month in a a dark dungeon just trying to get by.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.