A sophisticated and tightly organised troll army has spent the last three months championing a ‘patriotic revolution’. Boosting the AfD’s power is just the start

“You are vetted,” IdentitasTH writes after testing my knowledge on “alt-right” counterculture, verifying my connections to the Austrian extreme right and checking the timelines of my avatar social media accounts. It was a few weeks ago that I first entered the virtual world of Infokrieg (Infowar), a closed online community run by Identitarians whose primary goal was to manipulate the German election.

Mobilisation efforts started in early July, when the Austrian Identitarian leader Martin Sellner opened an information warfare channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. His declared goal was to create a patriotic digital revolution; tilting the German election in favour of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) would only be the beginning. The extreme-right activists had even drafted a comprehensive handbook on media guerrillas that included instructions on “shitposting”, open-source meme warfare and social networking raids.

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