Jack Delaney, an aspiring writer living in Brooklyn, New York, had his world turned upside down on Tuesday, when the 26-year-old found himself at the center of an apparent Russian plot to covertly insert itself into the American national conversation.
It all began in July when Delaney received a private message on Twitter from "Alex Lacusta," who introduced himself as an editor with Peace Data, an independent leftwing online magazine.
The editor said he had seen some of Delaney's pieces on other independent, mostly left-leaning sites and wanted to offer him a regular, paid column.
Delaney, who had lost his day-job at a restaurant early in the Covid-19 pandemic, thought this could be his big break.
He began writing for the site, producing three articles over a few months for $100 a piece.
His articles could have appeared on any independent leftwing site, with headlines including "QAnon Is Meant to Spread Fascist Mythology and Distract From U.S. Failures" and "Overfunding of U.S. Military Is Driving Climate Change and White Supremacist Culture of War Crimes."
But Peace Data and "Alex Lacusta" were not what they presented themselves to be.
On Tuesday, Facebook, acting on a tip from the FBI, said Peace Data was part of a covert Russian campaign — tied to the same Russian group that used social media to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.
In a post on the website after Facebook's announcement, Peace Data maintained it was an independent site and disputed the company's findings. The Russian government has not commented.
The smiling man in Lacusta's profile picture on Twitter, the account that had offered Delaney work, did not exist, according to experts. Though realistic looking, the picture was computer-generated, using new artificial intelligence techniques.
Peace Data had recruited and paid Americans to write stories on a host of issues, including American politics and racial inequality in the US.
While it has a modern, digital twist, the scheme comes straight from a playbook Russia has been using since at least the Cold War: tap unwitting Americans to help highlight cracks in American society and elevate dissenting voices. It's all part of a campaign the US government says is designed to exacerbate divisions in American life.
Delaney, and others like him, are by all accounts acting in good faith, simply writing articles and opinion pieces they would for any other outlet.
А самое хуцпонавтистое - сами асмериканские спецслужбы и их клиенты делают абсолютно тоже самое только в отношении России и никакого противоречия в этом не видят. Раздувают любую проблему как справа, так и слева до размера мамонта. А потом: "А нас-то за шо"