German Chancellor Angela Merkel is receiving abuse from thousands of Russian trolls, just days after she set up her account.
The account has shared 53 pictures and gained 36,000 followers since it was set up earlier this week. But many of those followers appear to be Russian trolls, who hurl abuse at Merkel and insult the people who appear in her pictures.
One of the commenters tells Merkel that the Russians “will soon be in Berlin again”, according to translations from the Moscow Times. Another picture of the Chancellor meeting Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has received a flood of comments, comparing the two leaders a Nazis and making personal insults about Merkel’s appearance and using aggressive sexual threats.
“The smell of sulfur filled the room,” writes one commenter. “What you share there? Killed the souls of the innocent?”
Almost all of the other replies are asking for comments to be closed on the picture, or expressing dismay at the nature of the conversation.
Other pictures receive more positive reactions, such as an image of Merkel with French president Francois Hollande and Russian leader Vladimir Putin —the most popular image on Merkel’s account. That picture has received over 1,000 likes and comments mostly in Russian such as “Putin is best president”.
It’s unclear whether the attacks have anything to do with Russian “troll farms”, some of which allegedly work on behalf of the Kremlin as part of “information war” practices, reports the Moscow Times. It may just be that there is a particular concentration of people who want to comment on pictures of Merkel who are also from Russia, where the service is popular.
Many Russian politicians have been on the site for some time. Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, for instance, has 1.2 million followers and uses the service to share classic Instagram-style pictures of the sky flowers, as well as more traditional politicians’ pictures and selfies with Russian citizens.