Social networks make excellent platforms for sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions with others. Whether you're into politics, celebrity gossip or funny cat pictures, social networks can offer everything you'd like and more. Including pro-state propaganda, it seems.
Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, has recently dumped $1,000,000 into a three-tiered program for the future of the internet. All three tiers of the project have different intentions, including finding how things are picked up online.
One thing immediately apparent is that the naming seems to be ripped right out of a Cold War thriller: Monitor-3, Dispute, and Storm-13 are the three tiers. Of the million being used by the SVR, $700,000 of it is going into Storm-13 specifically. Storm-13 is an army of spambots meant to flood social networks with propaganda to 'influence public opinion'.
The actual social networks to be targeted aren't yet clear, if the story is anything more than rumor. It's likely enough that vKontakte would be targeted, being a large Russian social network. With Facebook and Twitter both being quick to handle spammers, pushing propaganda to them might not be on the agenda.
Prominent Russian tech journalist Anton Nosik stated that anti-spam measures are going to be the biggest threat to the SVR's plans when interviewed by Kommersant. The newspaper is primarily focused upon politics and business, and the idea of flooding the net with paid spambot manages to intertwine the two concepts perfectly.
Russia is in quite an unusual position right now. International attention has been heaped upon the country due to its handling of the case against Pussy Riot, so further criticism is something they could understandably want to avoid.