The Russian troll fighting, elves movement is gaining popularity in Lithuania. The 2014 campaign launched by a small group of enthusiasts has grown into a massive online network of over 4,000 activists who activate as needed.
A year ago, we described the actions of the Latvian elves, who act as a closed group and when applying to join one had to go through a brief background check. The operation of the group of Lithuanian elves is more difficult to describe. They are not a registered and hieratically managed group that follows commands from above and rush into battle when their leaders demand it.
The community is made up of different Facebook groups and individuals who form block chain-like based solutions that are not centrally managed but where each member decides whether to participate in each individual action. Individual people connect the groups and the information is activated when needed for the good of Lithuanian society, moving on the principle of the network. It cannot be ruled out that there are a few active members on the network who initiate actions but the majority are still activated on a message-by-message basis.
The aggregate force of individual elves is today a considerable resource for responding to any action against Lithuania, be it Russian troll attacks on social media and commentaries or the need to support the spread of positive messages on the internet. On the other hand, they also act as the eyes and ears of the network to detect and respond to all kinds of anti-Lithuanian activities.
Recently virtual enthusiasts can be considered in the campaign against the Adidas collection equipped with Soviet insignia as well as the action to eliminate products that were being sold with the same emblem in the US chain department store, Walmart as an example of a joint effort. A bigger virtual support group also gathered in a fight against the Russian Foreign Ministries attempt at putting down a short film about the Forest Brothers last summer. The result was that the Foreign Ministry had to take back steps in social media and erase previously published postings.
The Lithuanian elves movement has become popular and many want to connect with this virtual community, contributing to the network’s efforts. Today it is no longer possible to measure the size of the group but the need for it has disappeared, because it has become something much bigger and more powerful than initially planned. It has become a self-regulating and self-styled force on the internet in Lithuania, which can no longer be stopped by the disappearance of individual members.
There can always be a question as to whether this type of movement could be hijacked by Russian trolls or local extremist groups. Such problems exclude the possibility for each single member to decide whether to participate in the action or not. To support a good initiative, you do not necessarily have to consider yourself an elf, a dwarf or some type of super hero; it is enough to have your heart in the right place.
Photo: excerpts from the joint campaign on Facebook; allanv/Flickr/CC