russia investigation

Russian Election-Troll Strategy Included an Anti-Masturbation Hotline

Yes, really. Photo: ZoneCreative S.r.l./Getty Images/Westend61

The flip side of the deeply horrifying news that Russian trolls meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to help Trump is that the strategies employed by said trolls — at least some of them — were almost laughable. In the I’m laughing because the grimness of all this would be too much to bear kind of way. The latest revelation: According to a new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee, one tactic employed by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency involved an anti-masturbation hotline, posted to a bogus Facebook pages for Christians. The plan was to collect personal information — like “struggling with sexual behavior” — that the IRA could potentially exploit down the line. (The IRA also reportedly set up hotlines for people struggling with their sexuality.)

From the Verge:

The report includes three examples of IRA posts: one posted to the fake pro-LGBT Facebook page “LGBT United” and two posted to the faux religious group “Army of Jesus.” The former was a straightforward offer of support to struggling gay, lesbian, or transgender teens. The latter two apparently pointed to a hotline for guilty masturbators. “Struggling with the addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we will beat it together,” said one post in a quote attributed to Jesus. “You can’t hold hands with God when you are masturbating,” said the other. “Use our hotline if you need help.”

Reports from earlier this year showed that more than half the ads used by the IRA were focused on race. Monday’s Senate Intelligence report follows a study from 2017 which also included images of some, let’s say, interesting, ads the IRA used during the run-up to the election. A buff, scantily clad cartoon of Bernie Sanders. Jesus arm-wrestling with Satan to keep him, and Hillary Clinton by extension, from winning. Some — emphasis on some; many of the ads were gross and hateful — funny stuff. Again, we’re laughing to keep from screaming.

Russian Election Hackers Used Anti-Masturbation Hotline