From The New Yorker, with a caveat that you might find yourself wanting to punch something: Confessions of a Trump Troll. “‘I like chaos. I thrive in it’: a Georgia lawyer with too much time on his hands and ties to the G.O.P. describes how he used twenty fake Twitter accounts to disseminate political disinformation.”
Fast Company: We analyzed 1.8 million images on Twitter to learn how Russian trolls operate. “Russian-sponsored Twitter trolls, who so aggressively exploited social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, didn’t stop when Donald Trump was elected president. Even after the election, they remained active and adapted their methods, including using images—among them, easy-to-digest meme images such as Hillary Clinton appearing to run away from police—to spread their views. As part of our study to understand how these trolls operate, we analyzed 1.8 million images posted on Twitter by 3,600 accounts identified by Twitter itself as being part of Russian government-sponsored disinformation campaigns, from before the 2016 election through 2018, when those accounts were shut down by Twitter.”
Business Insider: A new algorithm could catch social-media trolls as they try to influence US elections. Researchers are offering it for free.. “The tool, described in a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, works by learning to recognize known, common patterns associated with troll activity and disinformation campaigns. Russian troll accounts, for instance, have posted many links to far-right websites, but the content on those sites didn’t always match the posts’ accompanying text or images. Venezuelan trolls, meanwhile, have often posted fake websites.”
Reuters: Putin says Russia’s handling of coronavirus is superior to U.S.. “President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia was emerging from the novel coronavirus epidemic with minimal losses, having handled it better than the United States where he said party political interests got in the way.”
CNET: Tracy Chou’s app for blocking online harassment is in beta. “A new app by CEO and engineer Tracy Chou designed to prevent online abuse and harassment is now taking beta testers. Block Party lets you choose who you want to hear from and includes a feature that filters out anyone who’s likely to send you unwanted content on Twitter.”
CNN: A fake Twitter account stirred tensions between Jews and African Americans. Trolls celebrated.. “Trolls on the online forum 4chan celebrated on New Year’s Day as a fake Twitter (TWTR) account seeking to stoke tensions between Jewish and black Americans amid a string of anti-Semitic attacks in New York provoked outrage. Even as the trolls celebrated, the account went unchecked by Twitter for hours despite dozens of users saying they reported the account to the social media company.”
Motherboard: Inside the Podcast that Hacks Ring Camera Owners Live on Air. “The NulledCast is a podcast livestreamed to Discord. It’s a show in which hackers take over people’s Ring and Nest smarthome cameras and use their speakers to talk to and harass their unsuspecting owners. In the example above, Chance blared noises and shouted racist comments at the Florida family.”
Search Engine Journal: 7 Effective Tactics to Defeat Internet Trolls . “To this day, trolls emerge from the dank recesses of their troll caves to stir up trouble in discussions, on social media, and anywhere they can make people mad. For the rest of us, there are ways to fight back and maintain civility, friendly discourse, and fun in our online communities – not in spite of the trolls, but in direct opposition to everything they stand for.”
TechCrunch: This game uses troll tactics to teach critical thinking. “The best medicine against online disinformation is an informed society that’s thinking critically. The problem is there are no shortcuts to universal education. Enter Finnish Public Broadcasting Company, Yle, which is hoping to harness the engagement power of gamification to accelerate awareness and understanding of troll tactics and help more people spot malicious Internet fakes. It’s put together an online game, called Troll Factory, that lets you play at being, well, a hateful troll. Literally.” The article notes that the game contains offensive and extremist content — because, well, it’s about trolling.
Washington Post: Why crafty Internet trolls in the Philippines may be coming to a website near you. “The world of Internet trolls — the gaslighting, the fabrications, the nastiness — is now a fact of life in the Web ecosystem nearly everywhere. But something new is happening here: Experienced public relations experts in the Philippines are harnessing the raw energy of young and aggressive social media shape-shifters.”
Fronteras: Study In Mexico Reveals Unusual Patterns In Social Media ‘Trolling’. “Social media is a powerful tool for politics, but sometimes its use becomes questionable. A recent study in Mexico reveals an unusual pattern on Twitter, where some attacks work in favor of a top politician: Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).”
University of Hawai’i at Manoa: From Facebook to the Streets: Russian Troll Ads and Black Lives Matter Protests. “Online trolling is typically studied in the IS literature as an uncoordinated, anarchic activity. Coordinated, strategic online trolling is not well understood despite its prevalence on social media. To shed light on this prevailing activity, the present study examines the proposition that coordinated online trolling is timed to leverage macro societal unrest. In testing this proposition, we analyzes the dynamics of the Russian State’s coordinated trolling campaign against the United States beginning in 2015. Using the May 2018 release of all Russian Troll Facebook advertisements, this study constructs a topic model of the content of these ads. The relationship between ad topics and the frequency of Black Lives Matter protests is examined. We argue that the frequency of Black Lives Matter protests proxies for civil unrest and divisiveness in the United States. The study finds that Russian ads related to police brutality were issued to coincide with periods of higher unrest. This work also finds that during periods of relative calm (evidenced by lower frequency of protests) Russian ads were relatively innocuous.” The entire paper is available as a PDF.
Gizmodo: 1 in 20 Internet Users Say It Has Caused Them ‘Unbearable’ Pain. “If you’ve experienced terrible pain after negative experiences online, you’re not alone. New research from Microsoft suggests that such agony is widespread, with over a third of global internet users reporting ‘moderate or severe pain’ from online experiences, including 5 percent of survey respondents who said they suffered ‘unbearable pain.'”
Chronicle of Higher Education: When Online Trolls Show Up in Class, Should Professors Be Able to Ban Them?. “Public scholars are well acquainted with online hatred. But professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are debating what to do when the vitriol ceases to be just virtual and takes a seat in the front row of the classroom.”
Motherboard: The Story of Lenny, the Internet’s Favorite Telemarketing Troll. “Lenny is a decade-old chatbot designed to troll telemarketers that has developed a cult following online. It’s remarkably convincing, but is it actually effective?”