Members of the so-called "troll factory" that Russian President Vladimir Putin employed to influence the 2016 presidential election were required to watch House of Cards as part of their training in US politics, Yahoo reports. In a television interview broadcast Sunday by the independent Russian TV station Rain, a former member of the Internet Research Agency says that part of their training to undermine the election was to watch the Netflix show about a corrupt congressman (Kevin Spacey) who lies, cheats, and even murders his way to the presidency. The Russian man, known as "Maksim," says he and his colleagues were told to watch the show to better understand "all the main problems of the United States of America. Tax problems, the problem of gays, sexual minorities, weapons."
Maksim is apparently the first member of the Internet Research Agency's English language section to speak in public about the group's work. His department, in addition to posting anti-Clinton, anti-Obama comments on New York Times and Washington Post stories, also placed 3000 ads on Facebook designed to interfere in the election by amplifying "divisive social and political messages," ranging from "LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights," CNN reports. In early September, Facebook executives told congressional investigators the company had sold approximately $100,000 in advertisements to the Russian troll farm between June 2015 and May 2017.