RDE Speaker Profile: Jessikka Aro, Investigative Reporter, Yle

Taking on the trolls

Having the words ‘Russia, extremism and information warfare’ in your biography are sure to pique the interest of most people. Jessikka Aro is taking on the Kremlin’s social media trolls one by one. An award winning investigative reporter from Yle she works on the Yle Kioski project, “The kiosk is a Yleisradio's new journalism service that makes online videos for young audiences. The kiosk works on the internet, social media and television. According to its own employees, it sticks to the themes of the day "without bias, un-nonsense and with passion”.

Aro is passionate about what she does, she has to be, as due to her work she is the target for ‘serious…ongoing international propaganda and hate speech”. And what she does isn’t for the faint hearted, in 2014 she started to investigation pro-Kremlin social media troll techniques. For example she has identified that “Trolls distributing pro-Russia propaganda online silenced Finns as well as sow fear and distrust”. Her work focuses on how trolls from Russia are influencing debate in other countries which is putting her at the forefront of the ‘fake news’ and ‘trolling’ worlds today.

Currently Aro is writing an investigative book about the Kremlin's information warfare and trains reporters and the general public to recognize and counter online disinformation. Aro is also lobbying for better legislation to counter hybrid threats and protect citizens from state-sponsored online security threats.

She is especially concerned with how trolls are unduly influencing citizens within her own country and how this disinformation is being spread unknowingly through social media sharing. For example ‘pro-Russia internet lobbyists have manipulated the conceptions of Finns about the events in Ukraine and the actions of Russia, and also blurred the line between truth and lies’.

Her work is routinely used in the investigation of online trolling, of a propaganda or political nature and her voice is now spreading far beyond her native Finland.

You can hear Jessikka Aro at Radiodays Europe Lausanne 2019 - Register Today!

Watch the Diana Swain, CBS, profile of Jessikka Aro here: