Fake news and professional trolling

professional trolling

"You haven't mentioned anything about professional trolling!" said one of my Troll Course participants.

Ooops, better do something about that. Need to keep the punters happy. Can't leave knowledge gaps everywhere.

This was a brand new subject for me. So after a bout of research, I came up with this infographic:

Fake news and professional trolling

And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

Make trolling a career?

It doesn't surprise me people make money, good money in some instances, from trolling. The online world has become so corrupt, what with spamming, trolling and much more destroying everybody's lives.

Apparently if you have no morales or a sense of guilt, you can get paid to dominate public discussions. The idea is to distort facts on behalf of a client who wants to win, divert a situation to suit his own ends, or just out to cause as much chaos as possible.

The web is an open book to millions of gullible people. Those who are almost ready and waiting to be manipulated, cajoled, hoodwinked or perverted. Mostly without them realising it. In some cases this is done so subtly, people aren't aware professional trolling is happening to them.

Call-centre like operations

Certain countries (which I won't name here) apparently employ hundreds, maybe even thousands, of professional trolls. Their purpose to fill in comment forms and forum spaces to spread propaganda. Apparently some high-profile personalities help similar distinguished dignitaries to succeed in their endeavours through professional trolling.

These people operate in group-like situations, many sitting on front of their computers side by side. They often have multiple accounts at their disposal, layering up crooked discourse which makes up most of social media.

This means you cannot believe anything you read on the web. Hoards of professional trolls are trawling out social messages at an alarming rate. These are designed purely to distort the equilibrium and spread fake news and confusion to unsuspecting victims.

Focusing on likely targets

Professional trolls prefer to attack particular targets. Such as presidential candidates, CEOs of large companies, organisers of groups on particular subjects. An example could be plus-sized beauty bloggers, or celebrities who are vulnerable or present a particular cause.

Professional trolls focus on personalities or social groups which are in the news, trending or have a purpose which they particularly want to attack. Social media is already overrun by hatemongers, cyberbullies, misogynists, body-shamers, racist neo-Nazis and anarchists, so professional trolling is only adding to the mix.

They dominate social networking sites with fake accounts, spoofed emails and messages designed to cause chaos. They sniff out stories or organisations which they are paid to disrupt, contradict and mutilate to whatever is required by their bosses.

Similar tactics to ordinary trolls?

Professional trolls are employed to push political agendas by drowning out rational discussion by sheer volume. This volume could be loud, fight-picking talk (usually reserved for individual trolls). Or huge masses of comments piled high in a short space of time (typical of professional trolling).

Ordinary trolls usually only have one account, hiding behind a pseudonym with a dodgy email address and usually no gravatar. If they want to take this hobby a step further, they may operate from a few more accounts. This can be useful if a social network blocks them or gives them a hard time.

Professional trolling operates with multiple personas from a huge number of accounts. These automated systems are loaded up daily with pre-written answers. These are churned out regardless of location or relevance. However, these are humans and not troll-bots, so there is a minimum amount of guidance where their comments land.

Twisting the truth

Professional trolling is based around social media mind-conditioning. A lot of people are unsuspecting enough to believe almost everything they read on the web. Especially if it is cleverly written and displayed in a convincing way.

It is becoming more difficult to sift fact from fabrication in whatever you read on social media. I know loads of people who are easily taken in by the latest bit of gossip. They readily share it with their friends without a moment's thought.

This is exactly what the bosses of the professional trolls want. Their purpose is to twist the truth, make their lies believable and spread their dissension in as many different directions as they can so more people get to read it.

Just copy and pasting

The organisations who employ professional trolls also employ expert copywriters. These are needed to produce the expertly written answers and comments which the professional trolls copy and paste endlessly around the social forums and commenting areas.

It seems weird that people get paid well just for copying and pasting comments on the Internet. I imagine it is a really boring job, as these trolls usually don't get to answer what they publish.

These comments are designed to sensationalise, pervert, change mindsets and distort belief. They are not produced to be answered. Even if they were, these trolls probably wouldn't have the know-how or expertise to respond properly anyway.

Persistence pays off

The idea is to bombard the web with these messages as much as possible. Professional trolling works on sheer volume: spamming commenting boxes and forum quotas to death with the same information in hope that most of it will stick.

You'd think this wouldn't succeed, but this tactic has become so heightened and prolific, it is saturating the social networking waves to such an extent. It is ruining the concept of ordinary social conversations in favour of dissent, fake news and perversion.

And it is persistence which prospers. Constant assaults on social networks, and tireless comments overwhelming reason and truth. Continuous distorted facts adjusting how people think and act, causing misery wherever they go.

Getting believed

These most far-fetched, outlandish and scandalous comments obviously work. Those who believe and share them are literally feeding the trolls, unaware of the malicious devastation they are helping to spread.

Professional trolling spreads its information like gossip. It works on the DRUMS principle: disinformation, rumours, untruths, myths and smears. People love reading this kind of thing, and if it is repeated enough, eventually it will pass off as the truth.

It's relatively easy to sow confusion, especially to the uninitiated. Too much conversation has been diverted to manipulate and control certain scenarios. This could be extremely lucrative to particular people hell-bent on achieving success through undermining means.

What's your experience with professional trolling?

Have you ever become a victim of professional trolling? Or have you been a professional troll in the past? Whatever your story, we would love to hear from you in the comments below:

Alice Elliott
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And let me know your thoughts about this post below...
    • Thank you for your comment Dale. Yes, it was an eye-opener for me, living as I do in such a sheltered world. Whenever I learn about what others do, I’m amazed the world hasn’t ended yet.

  • This is so informative. I knew it went on but really hadn’t considered that actually, it was a lucrative business and now that you’ve explained it I see it much more. Excellent piece ( though scary to know)

    • Thank you Regina for your comment. Yes, it is scary. And sad that people have to resort to such terrible tactics in order to succeed on the web. And another awful thing is that it taints all information so you never know whether what you’re reading is true or not.

  • Oh my you’ve sure educated me on trolling, especially professional trolls who get paid to do it. I didn’t know it was so wide spread.
    I have a page for people and care givers of those with ALS.
    I have some weeks had to delete and ban multiple posts placed in comments of various posts in hopes to dupe someone to believing their lies about herbal remedies. I’m not sure if their professional but they do sometimes have the same profile pic but different accounts.
    What your talking about seems even way above this. They create confusion and dissension and seems like the potential to make the rest of us to not be believable by those not so gullible.
    I appreciate you sharing and helping me be more aware of this.

    • Hi Cindy, thank you for commenting. You say you’ve been getting multiple comments about herbal remedies. I think you’ve been subjected to mass spamming rather than professional trolling (but I could be wrong), as their attack is not detrimental or political. Nevertheless, this is very distressing and also time consuming having to deal with this. Check out my spam category page for information how to deal with persistent spammers.

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