Online Trolling Explained - GoTechTalk


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Online Trolling Explained

Back in the mid-1990s it was very common to see naive sounding marketing about how the internet was this remarkable new tool that could connect you to people all over the world and while that was certainly true giving every random person out there a keyboard a platform visible to anyone on earth and some degree of anonymity was also the perfect storm for internet trolls to start antagonizing everyone.

Of course people including non-trolls anger each other online on a regular basis by the way trolling is not the same as getting into a heated argument with someone who's expressing a sincere opinion, rather trolling is intentionally posting something misleading or inflammatory in order to trick or upset people and often to provoke some kind of response as well, but why do people even troll in the first place especially as there's already enough strife on the Internet perhaps unsurprisingly there have been psychological studies done on the subject that have found a correlation between trolling behavior and so-called dark personality traits such as narcissism and psychopathy, tying in to the idea that a commonly suggested motive for trolling is that it makes the troll feel important and better than the victim as they can elicit very strong emotional reactions from people with just a few keystrokes.

Wait, well ok obviously not every internet troll is a completely self-absorbed psychopath but the point is more than general human curiosity of drama combined with our natural desire for attention makes online gathering places a fertile ground for people who like watching the world burn or maybe just a message and speaking of forums one common variation of trolling takes the form of concern trolling, where someone goes into a forum of something like a rival sports team or say political candidate and pretends to be a supporter then tries to undermine the group in some way this could be anything from pointing out dubious weaknesses in other people's positions in order to sow discord and doubt or simply saying things to make the group look illegitimate or unhinged.

Some political campaigns and core patience have even been caught using sponsored trolls to attack opposing brands politicians or ideologies, in fact a Harvard study concluded that the government of Mainland China posts nearly half a billion troll messages on social media every year in order to sway public opinion, but assuming the trolls you usually encounter on a day to day basis aren't covertly backed by government or business another proposed motivator for trolling is something called deindividuation which is the tendency people have to lose their sense of self in crowds just as people in a large group can sometimes end up writing or engaging in other shenanigans due to the individuals involved thinking they don't bear as much responsibility since everyone else around them is also throwing rocks or whatever.

Trolls often see themselves as part of an anonymous mass of people which lowers their inhibitions and makes it easier for them to go at people online when they wouldn't say the same things in a real-life conversation one-on-one, and this type of trolling doesn't even have to be verbal one such famous trolling incident happened back in 2005 when a glitch in world of Warcraft allowed trolls to spread intentionally an in-game sickness called corrupted blood to lots of other users creating an in-game catastrophe for tons of unsuspecting players at the hands of an anonymous mob of trolls, but as widespread as trolling is because of these psychological tendencies much of it comes in the form of calling people who play a certain game or buy a certain thing fanboys or saying stuff like my local sports team will surely defeat yours in the upcoming athletic competition.

A more directly threatening concern comes when it's bad enough to have more direct consequences such as doxing where trolls publish personal  information or private details about a target, but if you're dealing with a particularly nasty troll and what they're doing isn't spilling into the realm of the real world remember that trolls are nearly always looking to get a rise out of you, so follow the old dodge and please not feed the trolls with as many people as there are who get drew in by troll comments.

Alright, guys, that's the end of the blog, thanks for reading the whole way through if you enjoyed this blog please share it with someone who would be interested and leave a comment, Thanks for reading guys.

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