Changing Troll Culture

  • Post category:Opinion

How the Evolution of Trolling is Tearing Society Apart

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In the 1990s, trolling was something that high school teens did to annoy each other as the world decided how “internet culture” would fit into our daily lives. We saw the rise of the troll on AOL instant messenger and other chat boards. People had “flame wars” attacking each other’s internet personas. This was done with little more effect than the annoyance of the people in the conversation.

Internet trolling has evolved. Like the process of evolution elsewhere, we have not controlled the direction in which it grew. The original trolls had rules. They thought of themselves as the Robin Hoods of the internet. Stealing from the rich and pompous and giving them their comeuppance. However, this has changed as predatory trolling has become commonplace in the world today.

Original Trolls vs Todays Trolls

A predatory troll differs from a classical troll in the manifestations of their trolling. Classical trolls only targeted the internet persona of the person whom they were trolling. This was an unspoken rule that was used to prevent trolls from affecting people’s real lives. While Doxing was a thing in the early years of the internet, it was reserved for people who did something truly evil.

For example, pedophiles, unrepentant racists or people who had committed war crimes or lied in the media. With the advent of smartphones, 24-hour social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the targets of trolls have evolved. No longer is the “gentleman’s” agreement to keep a person’s job, family and/or children out of the flame war honored. Now the goal of the predatory troll is to destroy the life of the person they are debating. Moreover, this often has real work consequences.

Mueller Report Revealed Existence of Paid Trolls

War has always been a valuable source of income for corporations around the world. We are now finding that flame wars are no different. With the release of the Muller Report, the world found out what the internet has known for years. Paid trolls exist. Moreover, they receive payment to destroy people’s lives. Classical trolling is free speech between a group of people. However, predatory trolling is akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater, trying to cause panic, chaos, and suffering for one’s amusement or gain.

Predatory trolling is akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

Paid predatory trolling goes beyond this. It is conspiracy, solicitation, and collaboration in efforts to defame, liable and slander another person. These are crimes, which should place the organization paying the trolls under the Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This is not an area where we need new laws. This is an area where the government needs to turn its attention to enforcing the laws that we have.

With the revelation that there were paid trolls working on both sides of the 2018 campaign, we now have a constitutional crisis on our hands. We have elected leaders in Congress who were aware of this wholly illegal activity. Yet they perpetrated the lies created by the trolls for their political gain. Millions of dollars were spent to debunk the collusion delusion, but no one wants to take responsibility for this.

Stand Up Against Predatory Trolling

The Muller Report is an example of why we, in the United States, have a crime and find a suspect. We do not find a person and tailor a crime to them. As the internet becomes more entwined with our daily lives, we each become more vulnerable to these kinds of attacks by paid dissidents who do not disagree with our opinions but disagree with who we are.

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To end the scourge of paid predatory trolling, we need the government of the United States to do what it is designed to do, enforce the laws. When a person is paid to troll another person, an article or a competitor- they lose their protection of free speech because they are now functioning within the realm of a contract. If a paid predatory troll lies, it is liable. If a person kills themselves because of the bullying of a paid predatory troll, then it is manslaughter or murder with the internet as the weapon. Moreover, If a person’s career is destroyed because of false information, then that person should have recompense against the company that hired the troll because they were the victim of slander or liable.

However, Trolling is no longer some high school kid sitting at their mom’s computer picking on another nameless face on the other side of the modem. Paid predatory trolling is paid, concerted effort by massive corporations who use focus groups, IT professionals, professional hackers, psychologists, spies, and marketing departments to attack people and destroy their lives. These concerted efforts are crimes and Americans need to wake up, call the attorney general’s office (202-514-2000) and put an end to this scourge before it destroys our republic from within.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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