A true army of anonymous virtual profiles has been mobilized to flood the web with comments and „opinions.“ The action has been organized by the media communication department of BSP. It is evident from the very first glance that these are typical internet „trolls“ – fake profiles, without real persons behind them, which have been designed to mimic public support and push through directives ordered from party functionaries. Most of the comments show very low intellectual and educational level, but demonstrate zeal about the party line and particular eagerness to rout the government’s opponents and the critics of the current political regime in the country. The analogy with the famous Hunweibins – the „Red Guards“ of the Chinese Cultural Revolution – is obvious.
All comments are synchronized; they are based strictly on pre-designed „talking points,“ dropped to be used for BSP’s public articulation. Targeted topics include most current events of the day: Monica Gate, the ABV political project (of former president and former leader of BSP, Georgi Parvanov – editor’s note), relations with ruling partner Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the fiscal policy, the “emmunity” of nationalist leader, Volen Siderov. The latter vocabulary „gem“ exposes the strategists’ level of language culture. The most important task is to indoctrinate the public and media that support for BSP is very strong now and coach the audience how to think on basic issues.
The stringent reporting by periods, by target groups, the comparative analysis of media monitoring are all very impressive. They reveal a huge organizational effort driven by very well paid propaganda headquarters.
The attack extends to a record number of more than 50 electronic media, newspapers, radio and television forums, Facebook and social networks. On behalf of the ruling party, the action is coordinated by the “Leadway Media Solutions“ agency, which runs, monitors, and carefully accounts for all activities of the fake profiles. For nearly a year, from March 2013 until the end of January 2014, 672 profiles have produced 10154 comments that push through „partisan theses.“ True invasion!
A report of top BSP functionary Anton Kutev is a stark example from which everyone can draw conclusions.
The report is very recent and involves the period from January 9 to 28, 2014. It accounts for 1840 comments and postings, including 451 on Facebook and 1359 in 53 online media. It includes 5 annexes by period and type of media/social network.
A careful study of internet addresses or IP-s, used to place the manipulative comments, proves that most of these addresses match, i.e. different profiles with different names write from the same office, or even from the same computer. This is a clear demonstration that the probability of the same person being present on the web with multiple false identities is actually a fact.
There are even virtual dialogues and discussions of one same person with herself or himself, but schizophrenically replicated in multiple virtual profiles. The latter is done to imitate public interest and to manipulatively advocate certain thesis. Of course, the view is always in support of BSP, its coalition partners and the current strongly discredited government of the oligarchy.
Example on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/298629430265254/permalink/338403766287820/
The trolls also attack with negative and defeatist postings events organized by antigovernment protesters on Facebook such as „Let’s Meet for Coffee in Front of the Parliament.“ Profiles “on duty,” managed by „Leadway“ – Bobo Linevski, Anna Plachkova, Milena Velinova, Biser Ivanov, Milena Tzvetkova – have written against the event.
Part of the activity includes creating Facebook groups, attracting members and pushing through them the BSP messages. The titles speak for themselves: “Boyko Scared with Tail between His Legs” (Boyko Borisov, leader of the opposition Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party and former Prime Minister –editor’s note) https://www.facebook.com/groups/298629430265254/·- 9296 members; “Is There Any Chance for Bulgaria? https://www.facebook.com/groups/600782166613695·- 11722 members, and “GERB Are Spying on Us! Enough already! This Is Too Much!”
The trolls’ comments target not only political opponents on the right – GERB and the Reformist Bloc, but internal opposition to the BSP leadership in the face of disgruntled socialists such as Georgi Bliznashki, Tatyana Dontcheva and Georgi Kadiev. Georgi Parvanov, Rumen Petkov (former BSP Interior Minister and MP, who pledged allegiance to Parvanov – editor’s note) Ivaylo Kalfin (MEP, who also joined Parvanov – editor’s note) from ABV have received hundreds of hate comments, while Parvanov has not been spared the use of his alias as agent of the former communist State Security – Gotse.
The trolls report to Anton Kutev
The “Leadway” agency has regularly reported to Anton Kutev, head of BSP’s communications policy, on the posted comments and the growth of Facebook groups that it has especially created for the manipulative media project of the “red” activists. It turns out that these are the so-called “Kutev Babies” who have long been legendary on the web. Apparently, the “Centenarian” (BSP often brags about its 100th years of history as heir of the Bulgarian Communist Party – editor’s note) cannot mobilize authentic supporters, so it is resorting to paid love or hatred in internet forums.
Approached for comment, the agency „Leadway“ categorically denied that they have a contract with BSP. „BSP is not our customer. We don’t have a contract for media services with them and we never had,“ said by phone Olya Marques de Cardenas, who has signed the summary reports.
However, very curious facts pop up from the investigation of the company that provides this active propaganda event. The check of the company that hosted the majority of the trolls’ IP’s proves even more intriguing. It turns out that this is not an impromptu political action, but a very well-coordinated and synchronized scheme with individuals and companies associated directly or indirectly with the current ruling elite and with scandalous power figures.
Bivol will publish this information in a separate article as a sequel.
From the leaked messages’ statistics it can be concluded that the normal productivity in service of BSP is around 700 posts a month, but in crisis situations there is a sharp increase in the number of comments. For example, only 3 days after the election of shady media mogul Delyan Peevski to lead National Security Agency (DANS) from June, 14, 2013 to June 17, 2013, 54 trolls threw themselves on the embrasure and produced 438 comments.
In the leaked earlier correspondence, dubbed # BSPLeaks, evidence of presence of organized “red” trolls on the web was also found, but it mentioned a few volunteers from the socialist headquarters. They were mobilized at election time and later have lost motivation and have stopped writing, the analysis of comments left by them showed. BSP categorically denied having organized such campaigns. However, documents, which Bivol possesses, clearly show that the “Centenarian” has regularly used, for at least a year, the services of „Leadway“ not just for trolling, but to prepare talking points and lead other campaigns.
Consultations with several online media, identified as attack targets, show that all profiles that we reached do exist. It has been also confirmed that different profiles write from matching IP addresses. We further found registrations with the same email address in various media and multiple accounts with the same email address in one same media.
The possible counter action is for any media to sift and block troll profiles and IP addresses. Each user on Facebook can check whether fake profiles of “Leadway” appear among his or her friends and report them. Thematic groups “created and developed for the goals of the project on Facebook,” numbering tens of thousands of members and used as zombies in social networks, may also be reported.
Bivol created a search engine for trolls’ messages through which the scale of this manipulative informational disaster can be captured best. It is possible to search by keywords, dates, media and name of the troll. Examples:
All comments in the forum of Dnevnik: https://www.balkanleaks.eu/bsptrolls/index.php?q =% 40address + *dnevnik*
All comments on Facebook: https://www.balkanleaks.eu/bsptrolls/index.php?q =% 40address + *facebook*
All comments from the troll Borisa Mirkovic on Facebook: https://www.balkanleaks.eu/bsptrolls/index.php?q =% 40author + Borisa + Mirkovic +% 40address + *facebook*
All comments from the troll Krasnoselo: https://www.balkanleaks.eu/bsptrolls/index.php?q =% 40author + krasnoselo