For months, Vitaly Bespalov, 26, was one of hundreds of workers pumping out misinformation online at the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll factory responsible for explosive content seen by 126 million Americans in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election.
In many ways, the IRA was like a normal IT facility, Bespalov told NBC News in an exclusive broadcast interview. There were day shifts and night shifts, a cafeteria, and workers were seated at computers in a large open floor plan.
But in the squat, four-story concrete building on Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, secured by camouflaged guards and turnstiles, bloggers and former journalists worked around the clock to create thousands of incendiary social media posts and news articles to meet specific quotas.
The work was all “Lies… a merry-go-round of lies,” Bespalov said. “When you get on the carousel, you do not know who …