Following the horrifying news of the war in Ukraine from afar can make you feel powerless to help. And while there are some concrete things you can do to help Ukrainian citizens under siege, once you’ve done so, there’s nothing wrong with engaging in a little trolling: The hacktivist site WasteRussianTime.today lets you turn robocalling into an act of resistance.
The site is straightforward. You click on a button in the centre of the screen to auto-dial Russian government officials, which connects them to each other while you sit back and listen in to their confusion and annoyance. While it may sound like nothing more than a prank, the very act of wasting Russian officials’ time is a form of peaceful civil intervention. Here’s what else you need to know about taking part in the hacktivism.
Who made WasteRussianTime.today?
The creators of the site go by the name of “The Obfuscated Dreams of Scheherazade” on Twitter (@ringringrussia), where the bio describes the group as “a collective of artists, scientists and dentists wasting the time of Russian war mongers.” Their Twitter is fairly active, and I’ve been checking it regularly for updates, as the dial feature has gone down a few times during my test calls. (More on that below.)
How does the site work?
As explained in Wired, WasteRussianTime.today is designed to work by starting a VoIP call, automatically dialling the numbers of Russian officials from an existing data leak, and then merging you into a three-way call with the first two Russian officials’ phones that connect.
When you press the dial button, you won’t actually be able to speak on the call. More importantly, this is a protective measure, so that visitors don’t say anything that could reveal your identity and put you at risk. Your role is to block the lines. As the site reads, “the more Duma employees are irritated, the better.”
What if my call isn’t going through?
The site is no doubt ironing out some kinks. The @ringringrussia account tweeted earlier that even though the site occasionally shuts down, “that doesn’t mean you should stop clicking.” They continue: “We’ll open the lines and as soon as they run too hot, we’ll stop again, blow on the phones and start all over.”
As of Friday afternoon, the Russians are out-of-office, so WasteRussianTime.today will allegedly be back up and running Monday morning. Give some officials a ring then.