Fake Progressive Russian Troll Farm Slapped Off Facebook

Fake Progressive Russian Troll Farm Slapped Off Facebook

On Friday, Facebook suspended a Russian propaganda outlet after CNN ripped off the outlet's cheap rubber mask and exposed it as another Scooby Doo villain. As expected, the other Russian troll farms have kicked into overdrive, screaming about #censorship and double standards from the safety of the Kremlin's basement. They're arguing Facebook doesn't have transparency policies so they shouldn't have to tell anyone about all the rubles they get to push Russian talking points. How convenient!

As first published by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and later reported by CNN, the viral video company Maffick Media was a subsidiary of Ruptly, which itself is a subsidiary of RT, the Kremlin's state-run media outlet. Maffick obscured its ties to the Kremlin by basing itself in Germany, hiring freelancers in Los Angeles, and running its operation out of WeWork spaces (rentable offices for hipsters and cheap douchebags). After CNN aired the report, Facebook suspended Maffick's pages for Waste-Ed, Soapbox, and Backthen, and said, "People connecting with Pages shouldn't be misled about who's behind them," as part of their campaign to root out "coordinated inauthentic behavior and financially motivated spam." Now The Moscow Times reports Maffick's flagship page, In The Now, was blocked.

Fun Fact: Maffick is an old timey British slang for "hilarious behavior" that has roots in South Africa's apartheid. Coincidence?

Paperwork showing Maffick Media is owned by Ruptly and Anissa Naouai.Via ASD and German Handelsregister

Maffick responded with a laughably bitchy statement posted to its curiously barren website where it attempts to cast itself as a victim of western imperialism. According to Maffick, they're no different from NPR, PBS, the BBC, the CBC, Al Jazeera, or Deutsche Welle, the only difference is they're funded with rubles. Maffick argues they didn't break any rules on Facebook because Facebook has no rules, and it's now become a pariah of "new McCarthyism." Maffick's two most recognizable faces, CEO Anissa Naouai and "journalist with opinions" Rania Khalek are screaming this breathlessly.

Literally the only thing on Maffick's website.

Let's take a moment to laugh at the irony of a Kremlin-funded talking head crying about censorship and propaganda.

We're not going to discuss how PBS and NPR aren't state-run news outlets. We've talked about this so much over the last decade we can hear Mister Rogers rolling in his grave, and we're afraid Terry Gross might say a cuss. As far as the CANADIAN Broadcasting Corporation and the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation? The BBC is funded through licensing fees and commercials, and the other is friggin Canada. Doctor Who, Dudley Do-Right, and Big Bird aren't traveling through time to stop Donald Trump from (ALLEGEDLY) screwing Russian pee hookers by teaching him the ABCs, but we certainly wouldn't stop them.

Big Bird - Obama for America TV Adwww.youtube.com

Maffick's mouthpieces echo the exact same talking points as RT and other pro-Russian outlets. They claim people just can't handle the XhardXcoreX truth bombs they're dropping on millennials, like doubting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on children, civilians, and journalists, or claiming the US is invading Venezuela. (Although we definitely still might!)

Other faux-progressive and pro-Russian outlets like RT and Shadowproof are parroting Maffick's arguments, though Shadowproof takes it a step farther by calling what Maffick did a "standard industry practice." RT calls it an "open secret" that Ruptly owns 51 percent of Maffick even though it never discloses RT owns Ruptly; instead it argues media organizations on both sides do not to disclose their funders or owners on Facebook. Both Shadowproof and RT omit that Maffick instructed freelancers to create LLCs in order to receive paychecks.

(Your hourly reminder that Wonkette is owned by Commie Girl Industries, which is owned by Rebecca Schoenkopf, a nice lady, with a minority stake held by her longsuffering husband for being married to her because she's beneficent. It is funded entirely by YOU.)

Shadowproof says CNN did an interview with Khalek and Maffick's founder, J. Ray Sparks, that totally owns the libsCNN. The piece in Shadowproof goes on and on about how CNN violated journalistic ethics by attacking Maffick, calling the Alliance for Securing Democracy a US propaganda arm because its parent organization, the German Marshall Fund, regularly calls Vladimir Putin a dick. The Marshall Fund's board has former Vice President Joe Biden, former Russian ambassador Michael McFaul, former NSA head Adm. Mike Rogers, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. James Stavridis, so we're pretty sure they know what they're talking about.

Interestingly enough, the same person at Shadowproof screaming about ethics in journalism, Kevin Gosztola, was found to be falsifying credentials and threatening other journalists for calling RT Russian propaganda back in 2014. Gosztola claimed to be working with Glenn Greenwald for First Look Media, but First Look made Greenwald rein him in. And you'll never guess where GG stands on Maffick...

That Maffick got caught with its dick in its hands while spreading faux-progressive Russian crap isn't surprising. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats went before Congress just a few weeks ago and said that the Kremlin was still actively engaged in cyber fuckery. Russia's goal is to subvert the US political system by spreading fake news and bullshit, just like it did back in 2016, the only difference now is that they've had a few years to iron out the kinks. They're still using Facebook and social media to spread disinformation, but social media companies are starting fighting back even if the Trump administration isn't.

[Alliance for Securing Democracy / CNN / Moscow Times]

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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