The Internet Research Agency (IRA; Russian: Агентство интернет-исследований, romanized: Agentstvo internet-issledovaniy), also known as Glavset (Russian: Главсеть) and known in Russian Internet slang as the Trolls from Olgino (Russian: ольгинские тролли), is a Russian company engaged in online propaganda and influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests. It is linked to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and based in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The January 2017 report issued by the United States Intelligence Community – Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections – described the agency as a troll farm: "The likely financier of the so-called Internet Research Agency of professional trolls located in Saint Petersburg is a close ally of [Vladimir] Putin with ties to Russian intelligence," commenting that "they previously were devoted to supporting Russian actions in Ukraine—[and] started to advocate for President-elect Trump as early as December 2015."
The agency has employed fake accounts registered on major social networking sites, discussion boards, online newspaper sites, and video hosting services to promote the Kremlin's interests in domestic and foreign policy including Ukraine and the Middle East as well as attempting to influence the 2016 United States presidential election. More than 1,000 employees reportedly worked in a single building of the agency in 2015.
The extent to which the agency has tried to influence public opinion using social media became better known after a June 2014 BuzzFeed News article greatly expanded on government documents published by hackers earlier that year. The Internet Research Agency gained more attention by June 2015, when one of its offices was reported as having data from fake accounts used for biased Internet trolling. Subsequently, there were news reports of individuals receiving monetary compensation for performing these tasks.
On 16 February 2018, a United States grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, including the Internet Research Agency, on charges of violating criminal laws with the intent to interfere "with U.S. elections and political processes", according to the Justice Department. In July 2020, President Trump revealed that he approved a cyberattack against the organization in 2018 that disrupted or shut down its operations.[dubious ]