Internet Research Agency

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Founded in Saint Petersburg in 2013, the Internet[1] Research Agency (IRA) is a Russian firm notable for its online influence and propaganda operations. Tied to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and Kremlin interests, the IRA used tactics such as creating counterfeit social media profiles and orchestrating both online and physical protests to sway public sentiment. The agency earned infamy for its purported role in the 2016 US presidential election meddling, which resulted in its indictment by the US Justice Department in 2018. Also known as ‘Trolls from Olgino’, the IRA employed over 1,000 salaried bloggers and commentators primarily aiming to advance Kremlin’s interests and discredit its adversaries. The agency was disbanded in 2023 due to its association with the Wagner Group uprising.

Terms definitions
1. Internet ( Internet ) The Internet, a global network of interconnected computer systems, utilizes standardized communication protocols, predominantly TCP/IP, to connect devices across the globe. The term 'Internet' has its roots in the 1849 term 'internetted' and was later adopted by the US War Department in 1945. The inception of the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s when computer scientists developed time-sharing systems, which eventually led to the creation of ARPANET in 1969. The Internet operates autonomously, without any central control, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages its primary name spaces. It has revolutionized traditional communication methods and has seen an exponential growth, with the number of internet users growing by 20% to 50% every year. In 2019, more than half of the global population was using the Internet. The Internet protocol suite, comprising TCP/IP and four conceptual layers, directs internet packets to their intended destinations. Fundamental services such as email and Internet telephony function on the Internet. The World Wide Web, an extensive network of interconnected documents, serves as a crucial element of the Internet.

The Internet Research Agency (IRA; Russian: Агентство интернет-исследований, romanizedAgentstvo internet-issledovaniy), also known as Glavset (Russian: Главсеть), and known in Russian Internet slang as the Trolls from Olgino (Russian: ольгинские тролли) or Kremlinbots (Russian: кремлеботы), was a Russian company which was engaged in online propaganda and influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests. It was linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former Russian oligarch who was leader of the Wagner Group, and based in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Internet Research Agency
Агентство интернет-исследований
Formation26 July 2013 (2013-07-26)
FounderYevgeny Prigozhin
Dissolved1 July 2023 (2023-07-01)
PurposeInternet manipulation, spreading disinformation

The agency was first mentioned in 2016, when Russian journalist Andrey Zakharov published his investigation into Prigozhin’s "troll factory". The January 2017 report issued by the United States Intelligence CommunityAssessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections – described the agency as a troll farm: "The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close ally of [Vladimir] Putin with ties to Russian intelligence," commenting that "they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—[and] started to advocate for candidate Trump as early as December 2015."

The agency employed fake accounts registered on major social networking sites, discussion boards, online newspaper sites, and video hosting services to promote the Kremlin's interests in domestic and foreign policy including Ukraine and the Middle East as well as attempting to influence the 2016 United States presidential election. More than 1,000 employees reportedly worked in a single building of the agency in 2015.

The extent to which the agency tried to influence public opinion using social media became better known after a June 2014 BuzzFeed News article greatly expanded on government documents published by hackers earlier that year. The Internet Research Agency gained more attention by June 2015, when one of its offices was reported as having data from fake accounts used for biased Internet trolling. Subsequently, there were news reports of individuals receiving monetary compensation for performing these tasks.

On 16 February 2018, a United States grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, including the Internet Research Agency, on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere "with U.S. elections and political processes", according to the Justice Department. On 1 July 2023, it was announced that the Internet Research Agency would be shut down following the aftermath of the Wagner Group rebellion.

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