The ‘News’ – hijacked by trolls

I love lots about this piece, especially the use of the word “arseholes” to describe scumbags who get their jollies out of trolling and making trouble on the internet. It’s a fine English word.

Meanwhile, arseholes hijack the news. Is this the fault of the trolls or the people who click?

The Emma Watson nude pictures hoax shames our ‘news’ culture | theguardian.com.

Shortly after Watson spoke, a site supposedly created by users of the now-notorious 4chan message board appeared, threatening to publish naked photos of the actress. The threats prompted a huge response of support for Watson and the #HeForShe campaign, alongside an absolute flurry of coverage in virtually every online outlet in the world.

The problem is that it’s not at all clear that the threats, which didn’t make a great deal of sense, were ever real. By Wednesday, a supposed PR firm had stepped up to claim responsibility for the threats against Watson, as part of an effort to take down 4chan. All the signs suggest that PR firm itself was a hoax promulgated by an outfit known to engage in poor-taste stunts to get surges of traffic and advertising revenue.

While the doubtful news here is the hoaxed hoax, this piece brings up numerous important points:

  • “the global news agenda is now regularly held hostage by small bands of loud but tech-savvy idiots”
  • “Outrage and backlash has become the regular fodder of coverage and cultural debate.”
  • “Our global conversation needs to learn how to drown out the tiny pockets of shouters, and talk about other things instead.”
  • We may be at the whim of elite trolls rather than elite editors of the news.

I admit it is very disheartening to see better news sites or critical sites get less attention than sensational, mystery mongering sites or drama bloggers. Yet, they do. Is it their fault that people click on garbage links or revel in other’s misfortune? They want hits so they give the people what they want – junk food. Thinking about tough things (especially tremendously complicated things like religious extremism, global politics and feminism) is hard and no fun. So people take the easy street and read fluff to laugh and make their lives seem less worse. That’s OK on occasion, but when it dominates your attention and understanding of world events, that’s not good.

  10 comments for “The ‘News’ – hijacked by trolls

  1. Chris Howard
    September 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    The media (in this case the internet) is only a reflection of the society that operates it.

    It’s a lot like how politicians mirror their constituency, and then we the people get upset about how sociopathic, and stupid they are. They are us.

    It truly is the old programming adage, garbage in, garbage out.

  2. skeptictmac57
    September 26, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    When I open up my YaHoo homepage each morning,I feel like I am in the checkout line at the grocery store,staring at the end caps chock full of tabloids. I wonder how many people believe that this is what represents real ‘news’? Judging from the sheer quantity of if,it must be quite high.
    At least I have NPR’s Morning Edition playing throughout the house on my speaker system to keep me sane.

  3. Dee
    September 26, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    There’s a bigger picture regarding trolls.

    I’ve noticed virulent trolls in articles or websites that challenge the “status quo.”

    Two glaring examples:

    (1) In Scottish newspapers, trolls were very condescending and critical of those voting YES to Scotland’s independence.

    You see, if Scotland had won their independence, they were going to go “nuclear-free.”

    (2) On the website ENENEWS which also covers nuclear energy issues, trolls attack constantly.

    Oddly, the trolls from both examples listed above make similar comments, and use similar language and intimidation tactics.

    Some might wonder if they are actually *paid* government trolls trying to protect their nuclear industry which is a huge cash cow.

  4. Allan
    September 26, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    I didn’t want to change my email, been using it for 15 years, yet I became incensed with the drivel of yahoo news. Eventually I just bookmarked the page to the log in for the mail and forever bypass the main page.

  5. George Taylor
    September 27, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    The existence of trolls is something that needs a bit of light shed upon it. Some trolls no doubt are paid to sow discord and ignorance. Others, though, exist merely to spread chaos and lies. What kind of person does that sort of thing with no monetary recompense? Or WITH monetary recompense, for that matter?

    I’m sure most people have read comments on Youtube that are designed merely to start verbal battles. Far too often, instead of ignoring trolls, other commenters engage the troll in an exchange, as if the troll were a rational human being that could be argued with and convinced how wrong it is. I guess that says a lot about 21st century Internet-user psychology, eh?

  6. Bill T.
    September 27, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    My internet service provider subscribes to a service (GFI MaxMail) with which I can flag addresses that I don’t want passed on. So now, for instance, anything “.ru” gets dropped before it gets to my in-box. Perhaps you would like to ask your provider I they have an analogous service?

  7. Corwin
    September 27, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2014/sep/22/emma-watson-gender-sexism-heforshe-un-speech-video
    Listen to her speech (“Men, gender equality is your issue too”).
    I’m in my 50’s, maybe have another 20 in me if I’m lucky. Ms Watson is so young, yet her far reaching aspirations will have a global effect.
    I have 2 nieces about her age and wish nothing but the best for them. The thought of gender inequality crushing their spirit, forcing them to submit to some substandard lifestyle is more than I can stand.

  8. David Down Under
    September 27, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    Or use Mailwasher (shows emails before you actually download them, and so you can delete if you wish) and configure a blacklist.

  9. F-89
    September 27, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Trolls getting paid? while possible, I don’t think it’s all that probable. That sounds like the accusation of being a paid shill for any number of things-For the government if you support them, for pharmaceutical companies if you support vaccination, etc.

  10. the14thlistener
    September 29, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    Sadly, the logout from Yahoo mail still takes you to the main page. I lack the discipline to ignore it consistently, so I’ve been seeing the ‘Valdimir Putin plans World War 3 last week!’ articles from two different trolltastic Yahoo content partners a great deal. I suspect it’s actually the same writer churning his/her/its’ work through the two partners, but won’t reward them with a click to find out.

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