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Is there troll factory in Belarus?
Photo of an unknown young woman already used by many crooks / vk.com
In Russia, fake accounts in social networks are widely used to misinform and form the "right" public opinion. The "troll factory", the "trolls of Kremlin", the "Kremlebots" -- who has not heard of them? But are these propaganda techniques used in Belarus?
As soon as we looked a little bit closer, we found the bots in the Belarusian segment of Facebook.
Beauties at the service of propagandists
You have you probably received 'add me' requests from seemingly unfamiliar cute guys and girls who have nothing in their profile but a single photo? Pleasant appearance is usually trusted by users. Often people get added to friends for looking nice. The Belarusian segment of Facebook also has such beauties.
Meet Evgeniya Skakunova. Beauty does not prevent a girl from being an expert in the political life of Belarus and from occasionally sharing references and reposting info from "analytical" groups to her numerous fans.
But the photos in her profile are, of course, not hers. These are stock photos from the Internet.
"Evgeniya" understands (or pretends to understand) foreign policy as well. She is also subscribed to the page of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus. And between the reposting of propaganda articles from the Russian sites one can find texts from Imhoclub.by, a site operating in Latvia and Belarus portrayed as a "local social network for the smart and caring people".
These articles have alarmist and frankly anti-NATO rhetoric. "Ordinary Mogilev dweller" purposefully sets her subscribers against the West -- either by biased analytics or by jokes in the style of "boars-saboteurs disable the US military base in Poland".
Wonders of cloning
Another political news repeater is Olga Arseni from Odnoklassniki. Her name and surname may be real, but the photos are questionable. Or is it not Olga but Darina Romanova?
Maybe these girls are triplets? Because we found another clone.
Olga Arseni from Paris - or Alonochka Belyayeva from Rostov-on-Don?
Olga (Anastasia, Darina, Alionochka) is engaged in political education in Odnoklassniki. She gets news from the group "Belarus and Russia - an indestructible force!" and posts them in the group "Lukashenko - our president!".
Anastasia about herself: she lives in Minsk. She studied at Gymnasium 7, then at BSU. But the photo from the page of Anastasia has long been published in Instagram, in the account of a girl named Bethany LeFave, who lives in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
How does Anastasia manage to be in two places at once? One can assume that the girl emigrated from Minsk, created a profile on Instagram under a different name, then decided that Facebook shouldn't be left behind and she began to take interest in public life in Belarus. All that out of nostalgic feelings. Her life feed consists of reposts and links. For example, there are links to the Russian Regnum, which writes about the situation with COVID-19 in Belarus in alarming tones.
Anastasia Lugoavaya also actively posts memes and media content of the International Center for Civil Initiatives OUR HOUSE, located in Vitsebsk. Admit it, is this your bot?
We asked the owner of Bethany LeFave Instagram account for comments. The answer read that Anastasia Lugovaya is definitely not her. And that the girl had sent a complaint about the fake profile to the administration of Facebook.
Instead of a conclusion
So, the bots are actively working in social networks around us, slipping us and our friends this or that political agenda. We've shown you three of them, but there are many more.
It means only one thing: although we live on an "island of tranquility" there is still information hygiene to be observed. If you add a bot to your friends' list, your friends to whom the bot will friend will get an additional argument to add it too. And this chain of fake network lives will be endless.