As former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social social media platform teeters on the brink of financial collapse, a group of shitposting cartoon dogs known for mocking Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine has infiltrated the platform. They’re trying to bring it down from the inside before the 2024 US election.
The North Atlantic Fella Organization (NAFO) is an online activist group founded last year to combat pro-Russia propaganda related to the invasion of Ukraine. Last month, the group turned its attention to Trump’s social network and launched a campaign to take over the trending topics section on the website. The group says that the operation, which included 50 “NAFO commandos,” as members targeting Truth Social call themselves, was so successful that those running the campaign now have a long-term goal: Take down Truth Social completely.
“The goal we have in mind, which is lofty, is to help bring the platform down ahead of the 2024 election,” Rock Kenwell, the pseudonymous leader of the NAFO commandos, tells WIRED. “We know it’s going to be an aggregator for extremism and probably violence the way things are looking at this point.”
Describing the Truth Social platform’s current environment, Kenwell compared the challenge of combating the spread of pro-Trump messaging on the platform with “dealing with your racist uncle that nobody wants at the Thanksgiving dinner table because he’s just obnoxious and looking to fight with everybody.”
Truth Social was launched in early 2022 by Trump, who had been kicked off of mainstream platforms for inciting violence. Trump claimed that the network would challenge “Big Tech platforms” like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as a free speech platform open to everyone, but in the 18 months since it started, the site has failed to attract anyone outside of Trump sycophants and QAnon conspiracy groups, and has instead become the butt of late night comedy. Last week, a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that the platform had lost $31 million since it launched.
“It’s a very easy platform to manipulate. It’s a very primitive, social media environment,” adds Kenwell.
Kenwell, along with other members of NAFO, posts anonymously to avoid blowback from the individuals and groups they are targeting. They also represent themselves online by using various cartoons of the Shiba Inu, a Japanese breed of dog that became a popular internet meme in 2013.