19 of the top 20 Facebook page for American Christians are run by Eastern European troll farms

Originally published at: 19 of the top 20 Facebook page for American Christians are run by Eastern European troll farms | Boing Boing


I think Facebook just found their new slogan!


“This is not normal. This is not healthy,” [the report’s author, Jeff Allen, a former senior-level data scientist at Facebook] wrote.

I can understand why the word “former” is in there. Senior-level data scientists who make the mistake of thinking that “inauthentic actors [who] accumulate huge followings” are not considered normal or healthy at a feckless and greedy corporation like Facebook aren’t going to last long there. Until it was exposed, Zuckerberg was more than happy to let Putin serve up his regime’s disinfo du jour to the large audience of rubes who follow evangelical Xtianism.


But freeze peach, MAAAAAANNNNNN!!! /s


What could possibly go wrong?


It’s certainly not healthy, but it does absolutely appear to be “normal” given how Facebook is designed and run.


As a Christian who’s firm in belief but become increasingly disillusioned by other “Christians” in recent years, most really really don’t know when they’re being lied to or trolled.


I think they did actually delete them - but who’s to say what the current top 20 sites are.


As a Brit, the phrase “Russian IRA” does my head in.

Everything else here looks like BAU.


What surprises me a bit is that apparently the various domestic pastors and televangelists and megachurch entities are apparently getting crushed by these guys.

I’m not exactly expecting discerning taste from American Facebook ‘Christians’; but I would have thought that someone with better name recognition from TV, radio, megachurch denomination, etc. would have been able to place better than this by copying the formula and adding a dash of cult of personality.

Is the story that they just aren’t very good at moving into a new medium? Or, perhaps more interesting, is there a sufficiently large population that identifies as ‘Christian’ and prefers their trite inspirational memes and dubiously factual outrage bait stories to be constructed according to those tastes; but has a weak or nonexistent relationship with IRL Christian institutions and so there is no recognition to be carried over into Facebook content slurry sources?

It would be very Bowling Alone if there were a sufficient crop of people who continue to identify as ‘Christian’, but have such minimal engagement with relevant local entities that liking and reposting the output of a number of deliberately obscure and more or less interchangeable content farms is their form of religious engagement.


Not christian but I can’t help wondering if this information would make Guideposts more appealing to the average christian. I suspect it would have the opposite effect but can’t quite put my finger on why.



At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia was involved in trying to rearm both the IRA and Loyalists. They just want the chaos, they don’t care who wins.


Honestly, at this point it is far less about religiosity or even about christianity than it is simply about identifying with a cult of ‘people who post memes that people like me like’.


Well loyalists spout the same disinfo as US republicans, with added Brexitz so I guess that could be the truth. Splinter republican groups would be a better guess than rearming the IRA.


There is this arsehole, and I suspect there are more like him. The IRA were never LGBT friendly before the ceasefire, they were just less bad than the loyalists. There are probably quite a few ex-IRA people who are disappointed in Sinn Fein’s change in politics over the last 25 years.


delete facebook.


"Look, Yeltsin’s popularity is at all time lows, but we need him to win re-election. So let’s put our finger on the scale a bit. It doesn’t even need to be subtle. After all, what are they going to do about it? "


Is there a way for me to check to see if a particular Facebook page was run by a troll farm? There’s one I’ve suspected for quite some time - but I’d rather not bug Jeff Allen or the MIT Technology Review if I don’t have to.


My immediate question is: did the American “Christians” even notice? Were the pages any different than if they had been run by American, Christian trolls?


I am always dreaming of the day when Facebook would get a serious audit of its claimed users.

I’d have to guess that advertisers would love to know when they’ve paid for eyeballs that aren’t really there. Fraud in print and broadcast advertising can end up with not only civil but criminal penalties, and I have to believe Facebook knowingly allows troll farms to exist because they pump up membership numbers and are designed to increase Facebook’s definitions of engagement.

I’m sure a big part of the problem is that advertisers don’t want to enter into a suit against an adversary with much deeper pockets and the ability to retaliate. And regulators are underfunded or captured.

Another problem is the stupidity of the typical reporter – they almost never, ever think about questioning what Facebook PR tells them. 10 million people saw this? Sure, why not.