My Interview with CNN on Trolling

July 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

stop trolling jesus

Today Nick Thompson of CNN published a long article on trolling, including quite a few quotes from yours truly. Here’s some from that article:

While Whitney Phillips agrees that anonymity plays a role in someone’s propensity to spew bile down Facebook walls, Twitter pages and news website comment boards, she says the bile was there first, just waiting to be hurled out at unsuspecting passers-by in cyberspace.

“The problem with blaming anonymity is that it assumes people are only horrible anonymously. Search a racial slur plus Obama on the internet and you’ll see more people than is reasonable who are perfectly happy being disgusting bigots under their own name.”

Is it possible to separate your online behavior from who you really are? Many trolls reject any relation between their profiles on the Web and their real life personas, according to Phillips, and say they are merely performing in order torment their targets “for the lulz,” or to teach people a lesson.

“Some trolls think that spending your time posting condolence messages on Facebook to someone you’ve never met is weird, and grounds for being trolled. They think they’re teaching people a lesson, teaching people how to behave online.”

Ultimately, Phillips says, it’s impossible to definitively say what makes trolls tick when you don’t have any demographic details about them. “We can’t very easily or in any kind of verifiable fashion sit a troll down and ask him what is in his heart, and if you could he would lie. They would tell you some bulls**t about what’s in their heart.”

I like the part about how CNN quotes me as saying “bullshit.” The full article is worth a read, and can be found here!

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