Trollery 101 — Disrupt the disruption

Notes from the trenches. 

Advocate for the kind of cyber space you want. Tell people flat out that their behaviour isn’t appropriate.

Set the standard yourself, don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Don’t just post your little comment and read a couple more and leave. Claim the comment space, especially if you’re being attacked or take exception to certain nasty trolls. Scan the comments, look for the repeat abusers and hound them. It freaks them out, it never occurs to them that people could be watching. It’s a simple tactic that works well.

If you’re keen on the research, familiarize yourself with the culture of 4chan and other sites where anonymous comment culture thrives. Go there and spend some time. This helps with identifying the way these groups function, some codes of conduct, what motivates them, what their particular ticks are, which includes:

Disruption for the sake of disruption.

Adherence to hive mind and a commitment to non-hierarchical anarchy.

Harsh, spare-no-feelings culture.

NYPA. Not your personal army. A common refrain when someone tries to enlist the hive mind. 

Don’t assume anything about trolls, they’re comprised of all kinds from all strata of society.

Teenage trolls are easy to spot and easy to rebuff. Their style is generally the one-liner attack; most are used to online engagement that involves the modern version of trading cards, and excel at brevity: one word, one phrase, one line at a time.

Personal attack and fake outrage are the troll’s stock in trade.

It’s fairly easy to mess with their heads. Disrupt their disruption.

Do experiments. Post a comment that’s passionately in support of one side of a polarized argument and watch the pile-on. This serves a couple of purposes: pulls the agitators away from real discussion, identifies repeat posters, shows the percentage of trolls at work.

Foreign trolls give themselves away by the off-sounding English. Grammar is lacking and the comment looks odd—it’s been put through Google translate, which does a terrible job.

Tell them you’re conducting an experiment. Tell them your “team has been hired to gather names”. Get creative and sound authoritative.

Lie to foreign trolls so they’ll doubt themselves. Use all caps and tell them that doing so alerts Admin to a problem for investigation.

Reply to trolls. Ask them if they are getting minimum wage. Ask them if they’re being paid by the post. Make fun of their fake name if it’s something stupid, offensive or immature—like ‘Rams Herhard’.

Push back with force. Scathing humour trumps almost everything. Wit is respected. Appealing to niceness, manners or their better nature will only elicit derision and anger.

Foreign players whose first language is not English have difficulty holding up their position and will rarely reply back. Most foreign trolls aren’t there to engage with you, they might even be bots. Their job is to dump onto the comment thread, seeding it with whatever brand of poison they’re being paid to deliver.

Becoming more troll-savvy has important implications during elections where the fight for control of narrative is becoming fierce. Last month’s New Yorker magazine (February issue) contains an in-depth report about how troll culture is being copied, refined and weaponized. Check it out: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/02/18/private-mossad-for-hire

Last but not least. Any news organizations who are manipulating the current mysteries of social media must stop now. I’ve noticed that one particular news outlet was inundated with an army of nasty trolls over a period of several weeks. But the other news outlets of similar heft/import did not have the problem. Then, lo and behold, this news outlet tried to float the idea that because trolls were such a huge problem on their site it was time to change their comment rules and everyone would have to sign in/sign up and have their data managed by a savvy new internet company. Thank the god of bumbling Canadians because the initiative didn’t float and, voila, the army of nasty trolls disappeared. Hard to say what exactly was going on, but let’s go out on a limb: news outlets absolutely must not play the data mining game.

 

 

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Reblog from Stormhaven Media

While I would never discourage anyone from standing up for what they believe I have a request for the Antifa headed for Québec city. Could you give some consideration to the following. -When you commit random violence you play directly into the hands of the state. They own violence. You permit the mainstream narrative […]

via A request for the Antifa going to Québec city on the 25th. — Stormhaven Media

The 1% and The 2%

June Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

Given the daily fiascos in American politics it might be easy to miss the fact that the Military Industrial Complex is doubling its revenue, now that President Rump has convinced/ frightened all NATO members into increasing their military spending.

I’m not sure when it happened, maybe it was when the millions of refugees started pouring out of the Middle East, but it dawned on me that our global community is constantly being manipulated by a small group of weapons dealers, all of whom are virtually invisible and unknown to the rest of us.

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The Wizards of Pipelines and Fracking

December Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

What position must we take when our politicians continue to be environmental laggards? This past week Prime Minister Trudeau actually had the gall to say—indignantly—that he wouldn’t have approved the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline if he thought doing so would be harmful to BC’s coast. Could someone please inform our PM that preventing human error and controlling storms at sea are not among his impressive abilities?

His arrogance reminded me of the doctor I had in my early 20s. I’d gone to see him about getting birth control. I sat facing him and his big, oak desk and said that I had some concern about the long-term effect on my health if I went on the pill. The good doctor snubbed his cigarette into a plate-sized ashtray and bellowed, “Do you think I would give it to you if I thought it would harm you?”

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Time for an Online Petition

March Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News

Recently this paper reported the latest developments in the ongoing passenger train campaign (DoL asks communities to get on board, March 16th) and I’d like to suggest that if it’s not already being planned, it’s the perfect time to take the campaign to social media.

An online petition would transcend the distance between the communities along the passenger rail service line. It would be a great tool for revealing unknown pockets of support, gathering more energy and awareness of the issue, and magnifying the voice of the people.

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Book Review: They Called Me Number One

…Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School. A memoir by Chief Bev Sellars

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Canada, like every country on earth, has its share of dirty secrets and there’s no dirtier secret than its maltreatment of First Nations peoples for several hundred years. Just like the family with the proverbial elephant in the room, without an understanding of historical, colonialist oppression, our nation will remain dysfunctional and our maturity will be blocked. It’s shameful that even today, in 2015, so many Canadians have a racist view of Aboriginals. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose, given that we still live in a world dominated by white guys doing it by themselves. Nevertheless, there’s a growing sense that it’s time to cease our collective ignorance and Bev Sellar’s extraordinary memoir, They Called Me Number One, would be an effective way to begin that process.

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Book Review: Rumours of Glory

Memoir by Bruce Cockburn (co-written with Greg King)

Devoted fans and admirers of Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn will enjoy this tome. At over 500 pages, it’s like spending a short vacation with the man, during which you sit beside a cozy fire or maybe on the stool next to him in a palapa bar somewhere in the tropics and night after night he tells you his life story, until you are so enthralled you wish the experience will never end. He’s a fascinating, courageous, multi-dimensional poet of a man.
Musician readers will be delighted as he generously describes how and why his songs came to be. Recording sessions and live gigs with the likes of T Bone Burnett, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Rait will make guitarists salivate. I have to confess that I’ve been more of a fan of the man than his music, mostly because though his lyrics are poetry, they are often too much to bear. I tend to swim in the deep end myself so I usually prefer music that lifts my spirit or helps me escape altogether. Nevertheless, a few of his songs became totems during the years I moved fearlessly through Central America and saw the darkness of geopolitical warfare, such as this one:

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