All posts tagged trolls

BuzzFeed image

Greta Thunberg Is Leading A Youth Climate Movement Of Teen Girls Online — And They’re Getting Attacked For It

The trolls are out. As is typical for them, they’re anonymous, too cowardly to stand behind their words. Just as typically, they’re attacking the most vulnerable targets they can find.

They have faced a barrage of daily insults, seemingly coordinated attacks, creepy DMs, doxing, hacked accounts, and death threats. This is the new normal for young climate leaders online, according to BuzzFeed News interviews with nearly a dozen of the kids and their parents.

It can be hard to tell if these are all “regular” trolls, who just seem to make it their daily routine, or whether some of them are agents in a coordinated campaign by climate shirkers.

Personal attacks have always been a part of the climate denial playbook, even as fossil fuel companies secretly funded campaigns and researchers to question the scientific consensus on climate change.

The original BuzzFeed article is thorough, with many examples. Here is an example of the type of thing the girls are facing.

On the morning of August 25, 11-year-old Lilly Platt tweeted a video clip of a Brazilian Amazon tribe speaking out against deforestation. Awareness of the Amazon wildfires was already at a fever pitch, and the tweet exploded. Then, within an hour, a swarm of troll accounts started flooding her mentions with porn.

This post is just a heads up. I’m hoping you will go to the BuzzFeed article for the rest of the story.

Here’s a related story in the Irish Times that looks at the motivations of the people who attack these children. Why is Greta Thunberg so triggering for certain men?


Public Domain – tap for large image

I think that most of the people who say the Earth is flat are trolling. Unlike T-Rex, I don’t think that all flat-earthers are trolling, just most of them. I think they do it to get noticed. I think they do it to set themselves apart, and to imply that the rest of us are common and boring by comparison. And I think they do it to get a reaction, like other trolls. You’ll be able to tell the trolls from the true believers by how many questions they ask. While true believers will also ask questions in their efforts to make you see the light, the trolls will use almost nothing but questions in their efforts to manipulate you. It’s the earnestness of the true believers that will settle it. Trolls never leave themselves that vulnerable.

Flat-earthers have a lot in common with conspiracy lovers. In fact, part of the flat earth philosophy includes the belief in a round earth conspiracy. Since science and exploration are responsible for much of the evidence against flat and for round, there has to be a conspiracy to hide the flatness of the truth. So that’s another reason why people do it. They are psychologically pre-disposed to believe in an occult truth obscured by a mainstream conspiracy.

Of course, there is also that minority of people who say it because someone told them it was true. The credulous few who will believe whatever they’re told by someone they look up to, and who will fiercely cling to that belief no matter what. Generally, this group is composed of people who aren’t able to think for themselves, and who wouldn’t think of questioning the truth of something they don’t understand.

So, there you have three of the reasons why people say they believe the Earth is flat. They’re trolling. They’re conspiracy lovers. They’re credulous. If you can think of any more reasons, please let me know in the comments.

Here’s a Scientific American article on the subject, to give you the conspiratorial establishment’s spin on the flat earth. And here’s a Youtube video of Bugs Bunny proving that the Earth is globular.


Theodor Kittelsen - Public Domain

Theodor Kittelsen – Public Domain

Trolls get a lot of attention, but never as much as they want. That pretty well sums up the problem, and its cause. Right, then. Let’s wrap this up and call it a day, shall we? No, we shan’t. This post is called Trolls Observed and all we’ve done so far is stereotype and dismiss them. They deserve nothing less, of course, but today we’re going to give them something more. We’re going to look at a few attempts to define and analyze them.

Let’s begin with the definition of troll in the Urban Dictionary.

One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

That is a good and succinct definition, shorn of their self-aggrandizement and their detractors’ invective. Next up is a Slate article looking at a psychology paper by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba, which

… sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called Dark Tetrad: Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).

To save you the trouble of following the link and finding out for yourself, yes, there was significant correlation between trolling and the Dark Tetrad, especially sadism. Next, a Mother Jones article about the negative effects of trolling on rational debate.

… it polarized the audience: Those who already thought (one thing) tended to become more sure of themselves when exposed to name-calling, while those who thought (the other thing) were more likely to move in their own favored direction. In other words, it appeared that pushing people’s emotional buttons, through derogatory comments, made them double down on their preexisting beliefs.

The effects are negative indeed. The trolls’ aims of disruption and derailment are met, almost invariably. This final link is to an example of the damage done to one person by trolls. I strongly advise you to follow this link, because it’s impossible for me to encapsulate it, and I really think you’ll enjoy it.

Ben Garrison is the most trolled cartoonist in the world. His trolls love him so much, they recreated him in their own image.

Trolls get a lot of attention. They’re annoying time-wasters who can take the pleasure out of our interactions on the internet. But they’re worse than that. They can be hurtful. They can undermine civil discourse. And, in bad cases, they can ruin people’s lives. They’re not just a mildly diverting aberration. They can be really harmful. They need to be managed, like any destructive parasite.


Theodor Kittelsen - Public Domain

Theodor Kittelsen – Public Domain

Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument — Urban Dictionary

Trolls. Don’t you just love them? Internet trolls, I mean. I guess the other kind might be okay, too. The ones made of stone, with diamond teeth. Or so Terry Pratchett says, anyway. His troll, Detritus, is quite personable, if somewhat dangerous with a crossbow. Although I wouldn’t like to meet the type who live under bridges, as in Billy Goats Gruff. Not unless I had a brave billy goat along, anyway.

But internet trolls? What’s not to love? They toil away, night and day, in their mothers’ basements, bringing clarity and accountability to the internet. While the rest of us spend all our time reaffirming our biases, agreeing with people we find agreeable, they dedicate themselves to rooting out our complacency. They hold up our assumptions to the cleansing light of scrutiny, forcing us to look at our shallow lives in that pitiless light. At least, that’s what they say when they’re challenged. I don’t know if it’s true. As far as I know, they might just be dyspeptic twits trying to dilute their own unhappiness by spreading it around. And I don’t know about their mothers’ basements, either. Surely that can’t be true for all of them, can it?

Trolls aren’t the stupid moaners they make themselves out to be, either. Some of them are actually quite intelligent, by internet standards. Not only do they have to have the wits to concatenate words into sentences, they have to do so on topic, and in such a way that they cause optimum discomfort. That means that they have to understand what we’re saying, and then they have to be able to cogently and succinctly offend us. As many of us as possible, as much as possible. A talented troll can disrupt an ongoing conversation and divert it onto their chosen path with just a few well-chosen words. But to the best of them, that is just a means to an end. The real purpose of their unwelcome attentions is to wake us up to our hypocrisy. All their bad manners and their virtual bad breath and acrid body odor are gifted to us in their altruistic mission to make the internet a better place.

You’ve got to love them for that, right?

Unfortunately, we don’t get to enjoy the benefits of their hard work here on Green Comet. We’re too small. There are not enough of us to be worth their while. Their gifts are better used in service of the much larger numbers to be found elsewhere. That’s unfortunate, but I think we should take solace in the fact that our loss is the internet’s gain.


Further to my last post about the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Stupid Patent of the Month, here’s an analysis of the ongoing pain being caused by so-called patent trolls, more politely called non-practicing entities (NPEs.) That’s a term to describe entities that hold patents but don’t use them for anything, except sometimes to sue people who are producing things.

Not all NPEs are patent trolls, though. That would be too simple. Some of them are universities that do research but don’t directly try to employ their discoveries. So, they hold patents but don’t use them, the very definition of NPE. All this makes it difficult to fashion solutions to the patent troll problem. Nearly everyone agrees that the trolls are a problem. Other than from the trolls and their lawyers, you don’t see much justification for their parasitical behavior. But lawmakers have to be careful that they don’t damage innocent bystanders along with the trolls.

From the Christian Science Monitor article:

Tech companies faced a growing wave of patent suits in 2015 from so-called non-practicing entities, which hold patents but do not create products based on them.

Universities … (say) … the proposals go too far by potentially categorizing them as patent trolls.

… contrary to the perception of NPEs as mostly patent trolls, some inventors have also repeatedly filed claims, particularly for software and hardware.

Once again we have to find that fine line between rewarding innovation and creativity, and letting it turn into a farce that punishes those who do and rewards those who sue.

Source: Despite crackdown from courts, patent suits still battered tech companies in 2015 –