[Discussion] The Inconceivable Power of Trolls in Social Media

This is a follow-on to the nearly two year old topic "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point." The intention is to provide a place to discuss the unreasonable power social media trolls have over women and minorities, with a primary focus on video games (though other examples are certainly welcome).

It's cute how a hater of identity politics reaches for his identity at the first given opportunity where he thinks it will be useful.

And in the ultimate act of destructive assholery, disgraced YouTube star McSkillet slams his sports car into an SUV going 100 mph, killing himself and another family and badly injuring 18 others. I don’t know much about him, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a MAGA gamergate type.

jdzappa wrote:

And in the ultimate act of destructive assholery, disgraced YouTube star McSkillet slams his sports car into an SUV going 100 mph, killing himself and another family and badly injuring 18 others. I don’t know much about him, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was a MAGA gamergate type.

That's a really asshole way to die.

I don't know about his politics, but he was one of the people involved in the CounterStrike gambling scams.

Crashed through an elementary school's playing field on the way, going by what someone says in the comments. Regular piece of work, that one.

Milo Yiannopoulos attacks his fans for failing to support him emotionally and financially

Even after all this time, the dude's narcissism and dishonesty rival Donald Trump's. And this is not the first time he's lashed out at fans who weren't servile enough.

Over the past three years, I have spent literally millions of dollars trying to do talks, speeches, events, rallies and protests, to say nothing of all the stuff I do behind the scenes I can never tell you about. A lot of that money was my own wealth, from before I even started in journalism.

My events almost never happen. It’s protests, or sabotage from Republican competitors or social media outcries. Every time, it costs me tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And when I get dumped from conferences, BARELY ANYONE makes a sound about it — not my fellow conservative media figures and not even, in many cases, you guys. When was the last time any of you protested in the street at the treatment meted out to me or Pamela Gellar or Mike Cernovich or Alex Jones?

I have repeatedly put myself in harm’s way in service of American values. My annual security bill amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars — just so my husband and I don’t get killed going for sushi. I have to make that money somehow just to stay afloat, and that doesn’t scratch the surface of staff costs, insurance, your insane American taxes.

I’ve fought bitterly and endlessly for freedom in a country I don’t even belong to — not for my benefit, but for yours. I have been betrayed and abandoned by everyone who ever called themselves my friend, with a small handful of notable exceptions. I was a significant factor in Donald Trump getting elected, for which I have received zero credit. I almost single-handedly ignited the current debate about free speech on campus and NO ONE has ever matched my ability to draw attention to these issues.

For my trouble, I have lost everything standing up for the truth in America, spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life. At some point, you realize it’s occasionally better to spend the money on crabs and cocktails. If anyone has a problem with that, then frankly they can go f*ck themselves.

All I ever read here is criticism and ingratitude. You guys have no idea what I have sacrificed for you, and you think just because I drown my sorrows with a few expensive bottles of wine, you’re justified in calling me lazy and self-involved. I don’t advertise my selflessness, because I’m not a victim. But for the love of God show some recognition of what your front-line warriors have accomplished on your behalf, you entitled f*cking babies. YOU WILL KEEP LOSING until you support those of us out there on the front lines while you tweet and Facebook from your living rooms.

I'm trying to find my tiny violin so I can play for him, but I think the one I got is too small. I keep losing it.

*wipes away tears of laughter*

I needed that this morning.

Check the screenshot on Milo’s “a few expensive bottles of wine” while you’re looking at that article.

And then ask yourself what person gets a 28 dollar chicken Caesar salad when everyone else is having the chef’s tasting menu.

Nevermind that he was essentially a useful idiot of Russia. Feel so bad for that guy.

He's right about one thing.

For my trouble, I have... spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.
Chairman_Mao wrote:

He's right about one thing.

For my trouble, I have... spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.

"Have you tried...not being a racist?"

Mixolyde wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

He's right about one thing.

For my trouble, I have... spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.

"Have you tried...not being a racist?"

"As a gay man happily married to an African-American, I got tired of explaining to my husband why people on the TV kept calling me a racist."

Mixolyde wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

He's right about one thing.

For my trouble, I have... spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.

"Have you tried...not being a racist?"

I'm sure he'll get to that, right after he tries not being sexist and misogynistic.

Or virulently homophobic, which is quite a trick since he's gay. There's a certain degree of destructive self-hate that's driven him right into the ground. I don't have any sympathy for him, though, since his orchestrated harassment makes him roughly morally equivalent to the asshole who decides to commit suicide in a wrong-way speeding SUV. There's a lot of proverbs about lying in the bed that you made yourself...

OG_slinger wrote:
Mixolyde wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

He's right about one thing.

For my trouble, I have... spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.

"Have you tried...not being a racist?"

"As a gay man happily married to an African-American, I got tired of explaining to my husband why people on the TV kept calling me a racist."

Oh another hater of identity politics invoking his identity when useful. Both former editors with Breitbart too. How 'bout that...

As a Mountie I knew used to say, "My heart pumps pure purple piss for 'im."

The Man Who Sued His Trolls: Brennan Gilmore had his life upended by online tormentors. Now he's testing whether you can bring them to justice.

Brennan Gilmore wasn’t sure what to do. It was August 12, 2017—the day of the Unite the Right rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville. And he’d just watched a neo-Nazi use his Dodge Charger as a deadly weapon, plowing it through a crowd of counterprotesters and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal.

Gilmore had been standing just a few feet away. He’d watched the car accelerate into the crowd, and he’d heard “this sickening sound of bodies.” The camera on his iPhone was running the whole time. Now he was back at a friend’s house, wrestling with whether to share the footage online.

But in the chaotic moments before he hit “tweet,” he never considered that the violence might blow back on him—or that he was about to find himself at the center of a test case about crime and punishment in the age of trolls.
As the fever dream gained traction in the paranoid reaches of the internet, Gilmore’s in-boxes filled with hate mail and death threats. “Brennan Gilmore’s body found in Rivanna River,” read a Facebook comment. “I hope your family feels the violence you protect,” read a tweet. After giving an interview to a reporter at the site of the attack, Gilmore was followed by an unknown man who later interrogated him about his relationship with Soros and Perriello. Says Gilmore: “It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”
By last fall, Gilmore was fed up. He wanted to fight back against the trolls. But how?

WSJ: Inside Twitter’s Long, Slow Struggle to Police Bad Actors: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has personally weighed in on high-profile decisions, frustrating some employees

Last month, after Twitter’s controversial decision to allow far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to remain on its platform, Mr. Dorsey told one person that he had overruled a decision by his staff to kick Mr. Jones off, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Twitter disputes that account and says Mr. Dorsey wasn’t involved in those discussions.

Twitter’s initial inaction on Mr. Jones, after several other major tech companies banned or limited his content, drew fierce backlash from the public and Twitter’s own employees, some of whom tweeted in protest.

A similar chain of events unfolded in November 2016, when the firm’s trust and safety team kicked alt-right provocateur Richard Spencer off the platform, saying he was operating too many accounts. Mr. Dorsey, who wasn’t involved in the initial discussions, told his team that Mr. Spencer should be allowed to keep one account and stay on the site, according to a person directly involved in the discussions.

Twitter says Mr. Dorsey doesn’t overrule staffers on content issues. The company declined to make Mr. Dorsey available.

How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War

It is, to me, truly amazing at how Twitter and Facebook, both of which were patting themselves on the back so much after the Arab Spring, are basically increasingly acknowledged to be threats to democracy.

In August 2016, a handful of crude images began circulating widely throughout Facebook’s Filipino community: a middle-aged man and woman having clumsy sex atop a tacky floral bedspread. The man’s face, obscured by shadows, was impossible to make out. The woman’s was not. She appeared to be Sen. Leila de Lima — a fierce critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody war on drugs.

But the woman was not de Lima.

The senator issued a strong public denial (“That’s not me. I don’t understand”) and internet sleuths subsequently tracked the provenance of the images to a porn site. Still, the doctored photos very quickly became part of a narrative propagated by Duterte, who had accused de Lima of accepting bribes from drug pushers. Duterte, who’d previously threatened to “destroy” de Lima in public, touted the pictures as stills from a sex tape featuring the senator and her chauffeur — the person she'd allegedly ordered to collect illicit payments on her behalf. “De Lima is not only screwing her driver, she is also screwing the nation,” Duterte said in September. If he were de Lima, the president added, he would hang himself. (“We believe the president was referring to another video,” Martin Andanar, communications secretary of the Duterte administration, told BuzzFeed News.)

De Lima was soon beset by disparaging fake news reports that spread quickly across Facebook: She had pole-danced for a convict; she’d used government funds to buy a $6 million mansion in New York; the Queen of England had congratulated the Philippine Senate for ousting her. Six months later, her reputation fouled, de Lima was arrested and detained on drug charges, though she vehemently disputes them. She has now been in jail for over a year, despite outcry from international human rights groups over what they consider a politically motivated detention.

Facebook: video.php
For all the recent hand-wringing in the United States over Facebook’s monopolistic power, the mega-platform’s grip on the Philippines is something else entirely. Thanks to a social media–hungry populace and heavy subsidies that keep Facebook free to use on mobile phones, Facebook has completely saturated the country. And because using other data, like accessing a news website via a mobile web browser, is precious and expensive, for most Filipinos the only way online is through Facebook. The platform is a leading provider of news and information, and it was a key engine behind the wave of populist anger that carried Duterte all the way to the presidency.

Yet some Filipinos say Facebook treats the Philippines as an absentee landlord might, occasionally dropping by to address minor issues but often shrugging off responsibility for the larger, more problematic stuff: the conspiracies that helped land de Lima in jail, the misinformation that has clouded the public’s understanding of a brutal drug war, and the propaganda that continues to damage the democratic process in the Philippines.

“Until we find an effective way to counter” the misinformation problem in the Philippines, de Lima wrote to BuzzFeed News from Camp Crame, where she is imprisoned, “we cannot hope to repair the damage [it’s] already caused and to ensure it can never hijack our democratic way of life again.”

Facebook told BuzzFeed News the images violated its policies and were removed. The company also noted that it eventually prevented links to bogus reports about de Lima from being shared on its platform — but only after de Lima had been arrested.

Yet it is the photos, more than the links to fake news, that show what Facebook and the Philippines are up against. Unlike the fake news scandals in the US, which often sought to drive readers to third-party sites, misinformation campaigns in the Philippines live largely on Facebook itself. It is images, Facebook Live videos, and posts written directly on the platform; a never-ending meme-driven propaganda campaign that’s easier to share and harder to police.

If you want to know what happens to a country that has opened itself entirely to Facebook, look to the Philippines. What happened there — what continues to happen there — is both an origin story for the weaponization of social media and a peek at its dystopian future. It’s a society where, increasingly, the truth no longer matters, propaganda is ubiquitous, and lives are wrecked and people die as a result — half a world away from the Silicon Valley engineers who’d promised to connect their world.

Prederick wrote:

How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War

It is, to me, truly amazing at how Twitter and Facebook, both of which were patting themselves on the back so much after the Arab Spring, are basically increasingly acknowledged to be threats to democracy.

When social media is your only available news source, and it's proven to be untrustworthy and easily manipulated... Chilling.

On a related note: Fake news is about to get so much more dangerous

If technology continues its current advance, we may soon face totally convincing videos showing events that never happened — created so effectively that even experts will have trouble proving they’re fakes.
“Deep fake” video will be able to show people saying, with the authentic ring of their own voices, things they never said. It will show them doing things they never did, by melding their images with other video or creating new images of them from scratch.

At a political level, deftly constructed video could show a political leader advocating for the reverse of what she stands for, or portray bloody events that never happened. It could trigger riots, swing elections, and sow panic and despair.

I am able to attest that my Facebook feed is inundated by a veritable flood of lies on a daily basis. Many are crude, but many are quite sophisticated, good enough that you wouldn't be able to tell they're wrong without an actual internet connection or access to reliable information. Their policing of content in the Philippines is nothing less than atrocious, and libelous content on virtually anyone is allowed to be published without any repercussions or consequences. The Marcoses are having a field day, since they're not above spinning wholly and fantastically untrue stories and framing them as factual.

JeffreyLSmith wrote:
If technology continues its current advance, we may soon face totally convincing videos showing events that never happened — created so effectively that even experts will have trouble proving they’re fakes.
“Deep fake” video will be able to show people saying, with the authentic ring of their own voices, things they never said. It will show them doing things they never did, by melding their images with other video or creating new images of them from scratch.

The deep fake stuff is getting really sophisticated really fast. It overlaps with my area of expertise, so I can still tell that they're fake, but most people aren't going to spend the time to examine the video closely. Worse, the existance of the tech means that there's a new rationalization for all the people who want to cry 'fake news.'

Gremlin wrote:

Worse, the existance of the tech means that there's a new rationalization for all the people who want to cry 'fake news.'

Yes, I believe Messr. Jones was howling about this before getting punted off Twitter.

JeffreyLSmith wrote:

When social media is your only available news source, and it's proven to be untrustworthy and easily manipulated... Chilling.

In other related (and massively depressing) news:

Vicious Rumors Spread Like Wildfire On WhatsApp — And Destroyed A Village

Hours after a mob of villagers beat five strangers to death over a rumor on WhatsApp, nobody wanted to clean up the blood: There was just too much of it.

It lay congealed in a 6-foot-long puddle on the floor of the Rainpada village council office. The walls and the dusty portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Indian politicians that adorned them were flecked with it. Even the ceiling was spattered. That evening, the village council offered five laborers from a neighboring village 5,000 rupees ($70) to clean it up. They came and mopped up the gore with old saris. Then they burned them and buried the ashes.

Five days after the event, the police had rounded up most of the suspects. Each admitted to attacking the five men — all nomads passing through Rainpada, a tribal hamlet 200 miles northeast of Mumbai — and each said they’d done so after watching shocking videos on WhatsApp warning of outsiders abducting children.

The suspects are now awaiting their trial. “Our clients’ position is that they genuinely thought that the five people were child kidnappers because they had been seeing this kind of information on WhatsApp for months,” Akshay Sagar and Manoj Khairnar, two of the four state-assigned lawyers representing the 28 people accused, told BuzzFeed News. “They said that as long as their children are safe, they have no regrets.”

WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service, is used by more than 200 million people in India, its largest market. It’s become an inextricable part of the country’s culture and social fabric, widely used by younger and older generations alike. It’s one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s crown jewels, an app he acquired for $19 billion in 2014 that began as a messaging platform but is now evolving into something more, with a new payments feature already being tested in India.

Lately, however, WhatsApp has been getting Indians killed. In June, rumors about child kidnappers shared on the service inspired a mob of hundreds to lynch a 29-year-old man and his friend who were passing through a village in Karbi Anglong, a district in the eastern part of the country. In July, two weeks after the Rainpada incident, hundreds of people hurled stones at an IT worker who was visiting the South Indian village of Murki, killing him. Since May, there have been at least 16 lynchings leading to 29 deaths in India where public officials say mobs were incited by misinformation on WhatsApp.

As Facebook wrangles an ongoing crisis of public confidence over its role in spreading misinformation throughout the 2016 US presidential election, the company is grappling with a different kind of problem in places like Rainpada, where its products have abetted flesh-and-blood harm. In attempting to fulfill Facebook’s current mission — to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” — Zuckerberg and his team of Silicon Valley–based executives failed to foresee its malignant applications: misinformation, propaganda, rumor, hate.

I feel like that last line can basically be applied to the entirety of social media, just replace Zuckerberg's name with whoever.

Gremlin wrote:

The deep fake stuff is getting really sophisticated really fast. It overlaps with my area of expertise, so I can still tell that they're fake, but most people aren't going to spend the time to examine the video closely.

So, so fast.

IMAGE(https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*ljwLRBeYJwfGYD3U6G9fCg.gif)

IMAGE(https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*h1jmBtS6AWZiZuDgjO3O8w.gif)

We are all irrevocably f*cked.

It’s a conspiracy! Wake up sheeple!

They banned a lot more than just GreatAwakening. Dozens, including r/BiblicalQ (wtaf?). About time.

BadKen wrote:

They banned a lot more than just GreatAwakening. Dozens, including r/BiblicalQ (wtaf?). About time.

I do not want to see what the intersection of QAnon and the fringe biblical rapture/end times interpretations looked like. Each of them is horrifying enough on their own.

BadKen wrote:

They banned a lot more than just GreatAwakening. Dozens, including r/BiblicalQ (wtaf?). About time.

Yup, which is why I wrote "subs", even if many of the headlines were focused on the biggest one.

Gremlin wrote:

I do not want to see what the intersection of QAnon and the fringe biblical rapture/end times interpretations looked like. Each of them is horrifying enough on their own.

Most of The Great Awakening was like this anyway. Lots of talk of God and "Luciferians" and how various things in the "MSM" were parts of Satanic rituals. For instance, the McCain funeral was apparently one big Satanic rite that most of the people there were involved in.