February 7, 2018  |  Updated July 10, 2018

Where do Pro-Russian Trolls Go when they Die?

By Corina Rebegea

This article was originally published by CEPA.

Beatrice Mcartney, one of Romania’s most energetic pro-Russian activists on Facebook, has disappeared from the online troll world. Over the past few months, she had started several Facebook groups dedicated to alternative foreign affairs news—with most items coming from Kremlin-inspired media like RT, Sputnik, and the YouTube channel In the now, and populated by a variety of fake profiles. She also has written a number of articles—some dating back to 2014—for a Romanian nationalist, anti-Western online platform. Now a shadow troll, Beatrice’s Facebook profile is inactive, but her followers still sometimes quote her posts taken apparently from VKontakte (VK), the Russian equivalent of Facebook. Whether she has been extricated or simply blocked as a result of Facebook’s reporting rules, pro-Russian activity on this social platform in Romania seems to have slowed down.

In the past few months, hardcore pro-Russian Facebook activists have been complaining that Facebook—and Romanian intelligence— are policing their conversations and public posts. This type of surveillance conspiracy served the trolls very well in constructing and promoting an inherently ironic narrative focused on freedom of speech and alternative news. Some appealed to their followers to create VK profiles and move their conversations to a space where they could converse “freely.” This seems to be part of a broader migration worldwide by various alt-right, nationalist, and anti-Western groups from Facebook to VK.

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