How to spot and deal with Trolls, including a clever tool they use in any social media capable of posting images (VERY prevalent on Facebook), and quite insidious with far reaching implications. BEWARE: you betray yourself and your friends if you take things at face value.
What is a Web Troll?
by H. Michael Sweeney
copyright © 2014, all rights reserved. Permission to repost hereby granted provided entire post with all links in tact, including this paragraph, are included.
How does being a web troll work?
UPDATE: Nov. 11, 2014 Perhaps as if to ‘test’ me as result of this article (or not), a Web troll began the process described herein to goad me argumentatively while also employing a good half dozen of the usual disinfo tactics in the 25 Rules of Disinformation (linked below). So I unfriended him and watched: that same day, ‘someone’ created a new FB account and almost immediately friended two of my friends, posted ONE activist post, and ONE peace post, then requested to friend me. Sure. OK. BUT I HAVE MY EYE ON YOU, because that’s how easy it is to get a new identity and hook back up to a target. Not that I care. Trolls are tasty.
Are you being targeted by online government trolls
How Social Network Trolls Target, Track, and Psychologically Profile You
Reading this post you will learn…• That there are three basic kinds of trolls and subsequent ‘missions’ against targets like YOU; • That there are troll profiling and tracking tools or methods which can be recognized; • That there are ways to protect yourself without drawing more unwanted attention; • That the Troll represents a danger in that their ‘assessment’ can lead to escalation in your targeting. Is social media infiltrated by government trolls?
Government and Commercial Trolls
Consider, for example, the friend ranking and layer’s of affiliation tracking tool. A graphic is created containing a simple textual message. It is graphical because there is no easy way to distinguish between two identical text messages, whereas, altering a single pixel’s color by 1 imperceptible shade of difference makes it unique, and allows thousands upon thousands of individually trackable versions. A Troll who has managed to friend a targeted person of interest then posts the textual graphic as if a sincere request. Examples will be shown.
These kinds of posts seem innocent enough and easily get spread as requested, allowing simple computerized search processes by FB’s intelligence community or marketing partners to see not only who is close to the target party, but at what layered level and loyalty or, if you prefer, like minded thinking. In point of fact, ANY image shared with a given political, philosophical, religious, or other belief or emotional message can be so tracked to perfectly define each such poster’s psychological profile, and rank their threat level to the paranoiac governmental powers that be. The same is true of marketing trolls seeking to learn about your product usage or demographic, etc.
The only safe share, then, we might presume, is textual or perhaps the sharing of a URL and it’s image, or an image we ourselves create and have perhaps included in our FB albums. Even with URL’s however, the possibility exists it is still being tracked, especially if a Troll operated resource such as Federal Jack, a known DHS sponsored Sorcha Faal disinformationa conduit targeting conspiracy theorists, activists, and other ‘potential terrorists.’ Their goal is to get you to ‘share’ their links, thereby spreading disinformation while psychologically cataloging YOU and any of your friends’ beliefs; all who click to learn more. They may need to have a troll assigned to them, after all, for being yet another ‘potential terrorist’ — a free thinker, patriot, constitutionalist, etc.
Worse, we have learned from our new Paul Revere of the coming Second American Revolution (Snowden), that NSA is not only monitoring FB activities big time but that Trolls from NSA, FBI, DHS, DOD, and even the FED, and other paranoid agencies, and even corporations who have a strong and growing list of people who think ill of them, like Monsanto and some banks — all regularly maintain false social media identities for entrapment and spying purposes. They even infiltrate online gaming. Snowden’s latest bombshell, according the foreign media analysts, indicates there were so many game Trolls that it was starting to change the character of online gaming, and special tools had to be developed so that Trolls would not end up targeting other Trolls and more easily remain inobvious. We are talking here, about games with chat or other communications capabilities within the game or as part of game support, especially when in a social network manner.
And it is clear that snooping is also rampant among commercial interests, which is certainly true in online gaming, which after all, is a commercial enterprise. FB is perhaps the biggest offender in this area.
How can you spot a social media troll?
Differentiating an innocent graphic from a potential spy tool…
There are several online graphical message generating services. FB themselves seems to be hooked up with one called your-ecards (.com). Another is someecards (.com). Anyone can use these to generate a simple textual graphic with or without use of stock illustration graphics (e.g., a man looking perplexed), typically in silhouette or line art form. They can then easily share it through their favorite social media(s) with a few additional clicks. These can always be recognized because the logo for the creating Web service is displayed at the bottom. An additional hallmark of such services is that the background is almost always colored, and there are scant few colors available. The default color or otherwise most popular seems to be pale blue, pale green, or yellow-orange.
So when you see a colored background, typically with larger or fancier text than a normal posting, you are clearly looking at a graphical text post. The next thing to look for is the logo. If you see a logo, it was likely a sincerely generated message by a genuine human resident of social media. However, if there is no such logo, the message may have been generated by a Troll using his own computerized tools to psychologically target you regarding a select individual hot button. Are you, for instance, a tax protester, pro gun, anti GMO, for or against a given politician or political topic, or simply, who is a good like-minded friend of yours as opposed to some stranger you’ve accepted on the Network. Such messages also tend to be minus any artwork — text only. There is one more defining clue to look for.
Because there may be multiple versions of the same message for targeting different individuals by multiple Trolls interested in gathering information about many someones, there is a need to tell one shared message copy from another, which is exactly why it needs to be a graphic. YOUR version must be physically different from MINE. The simple solution is to vary one or more pixels in a way easy for a software routine to detect, and then match to a targeted individual and their Troll/need. Given the countless millions of users on FB (and other social media) who might be deemed targets, it may mean that many, many dozens of pixels will need to be manipulated. My research shows that, indeed, most of the suspicious postings, in addition to missing the logos, have such visual manipulations. Examples:
So one needs to look for such abberations or flaws in the background, usually darkened pixels along the edge, most commonly gathered in clusters or strips. You have to ask yourself… if going to the trouble to create a custom graphic for a text message instead of simply typing it in, why would they: a) choose the ugly colors used by such as your-ecard if not trying to make you think it such; b) take the extra steps to strip away the logo if using such a service (the point being they did not); and c) end up creating an image with a flawed background (where did the aberration come from, if not deliberate)?
When these clues are present, you are staring at a Trollish spy tool. To then share it betrays and catalogs you and links you and your beliefs with any of your friends who do the same, and theirs, and so forth, on down the line. The proper thing to do is enter into the comments: “I suggest you delete this post because it fits the description of a Troll’s chain-letter spy tool to catalog, track, or psychologically profile and establish links between like-minded persons: learn more here: http://wp.me/p1GyKw-zi” That link goes to this blog post you are reading.
Then I suggest you share the post anyway with a similar message, “Share this to warn others about Troll spy tool chain-letters to catalog or psychologically profile and establish links between like-minded persons. To learn more about this tool, visit this link http://wp.me/p1GyKw-zi.”
Finally, look carefully at the original post. Most social media will have a means to indicate if it was itself being shared, or was a direct post. If direct, it’s YOUR Troll. If shared, the poster was gullible in sharing, and is not likely a Troll… but beware that that could be arranged for as a deceit — so watch to see if the poster repeats the ploy frequently. You might optionally go to the ‘cited source’ of the share and try to find the post on their wall if you want to try to see if they are the Troll, and on to the next if not, and so forth, posting or messaging those encountered along the way who are victims, if you can. But that can be a LOT of work.
Are social media trolls sociopaths or psychopaths?
More Direct Trolls; Psyops and Sociopaths
The real threat to activists and politically incorrect persons online, like myself, is government agents paid to do nothing but sit in front of a computer and pretend to be your social network friend, someone you don’t really know at all, of course. They don’t just post Trollish images, they comment, and even message you. Like the aforementioned tool, they seek to learn everything they can to psychologically profile you, as well as see who ‘likes’ your posts and what THEY comment. But they are also there to play mind games. You are officially a victim of psychological warfare, perhaps even by someone from within the U.S. military, or even the military of another country. They are quite often sociopaths, so chosen because those traits make them more efficient.
Here are some tips on how to spot and deal with this class of Troll, as well as the kind of Troll who is simply out to make trouble for a given collective of people who believe a certain way about a certain topic. You know the type, my favorite example being the warrior Atheist who deems it his life’s mission to ferret out believers in God and annoy them with endless barbs and zings as if they were evil and dangerous for daring to worship. These people will wax sociopathic, too, and even psychopathic, when given enough rope. UNFRIEND these kinds of Trolls.
Hint 1) Trolls work in packs or maintain multiple identities to be a self-contained pack. That way, if you delete one of them, others survive, and then they generate yet another new identity and friend request to maintain the pack. The advantage is that you can suffer a series of ‘In deference to your view, we all seem to believe the same (whatever)’ posts (i.e., you are an idiot on this matter). Sure. You might be an idiot. But at first, the pack is all positive and flattering to your own beliefs so you a) get used to seeing them, and b) start respecting their beliefs and presuming them the same as yours. That’s the worming in stage.
But when it is appropriate for profiling or attempting the role of agent provocateur or disinformationalist, they will all suddenly be believing in something more off the mark, and increasingly so, as often as not. But by now, you like them and their beliefs, and so, your reaction tends to be as they expect; they are pulling your chain, and observing your jerks, evaluating, and cataloging, attempting to modify your behavior through deceit — a form of mind control. Can you be controlled, or are you firmly centered in your beliefs? Are your notions your own, or being foisted upon you?
Hint 2) New Troll requests tend to be persons with scant history on the network, and very few posts, but posts akin to your own in substance. Note that Facebook asks you to suggest friends to them. NEVER do this unless someone you ACTUALLY KNOW in the real World. If you do it, you are giving them a list of new targets. Since I don’t fear and even enjoy playing with Trolls, I let anyone into my friend list, but that does not mean they get what they want from me. But you may be better off simply passing on marginally viable friend requests.
Hint 3) Try posting something deep and yet somehow provocative (in the eyes of the establishment) which requires a bit of reading and thought before drawing conclusions. Look for a pattern in response from the same suspect persons; a) almost instantaneous response in the manner of (Hint 1), and typically emotional rather than logical in nature. This is almost always short and designed to be inflammatory or provocative, a bit testy. This is followed by b) one or more secondary (pack) responses delayed rather a bit in time. These will be more in depth and thoughtful, and validate the former with logical argument, and may contain a link to give further credibility. Other brief pack replies may be sprinkled in for effect. Collectively, they are all in agreement regarding your idiocy (or whatever).
It is when the same people tend to respond in these patterns that you are very likely dealing with a Troll pack. You will find this is true regardless of what time of day or night you post. They never sleep because every psyops Troll is actually three people manning a keyboard around the clock. They can always respond quickly with the first response, but the careful response requires that they actually research and formulate the best supporting answer based on all they know about you and the topic, which they might need to first research, and likely, it involves a supervisor’s approval or must be compared against preset guidelines.
Hint 4) Thick skin, undaunted. There is nothing you can do to make these people not remain your friend, short of unfriending them, yourself. While they may match or even exceed your own expression of ire, they won’t go away no matter how you might choose to argue, or confront with insult. Indeed, they tend never to deal with insults directly, at all; they are irrelevant and serve no usefulness to their goal. A real person has an ego that must be defended, but they are just playing psychological games and feel superior regardless of what you say. But when you argue, watch out for the next hint, which is commonly employed in their responses.
This is also true of the sociopathic/psychopathic ‘cause’ trolls.
Hint 5) They tend to employ the 25 Rules of Disinformation. Easy to spot, easy to deal with, if you know what to look for. Be careful, though, because ordinary people sometimes use flawed presentation style or less-than-thoughtful posts which on the surface appear to fit one or more of the rules, when they are just being human. Watch for repeat performances, to know the difference. Give them rope.
Can trolls lead to real-world targeting?
Dangerous escalations; why we dare not ignore trolls
The real danger in online Trolls is this: their whole purpose in targeting you online can be to determine if you deserve real-World targeting, as well. With a few keystokes you can end up having your entire life put under a microscope; phone surveillance, tails, observation posts, bugs and cameras covertly placed in your home, mail intercepted and snooped, and so forth. Men in Black stuff. Its why I wrote The Professional Paranoid; a how-to book on detecting and dealing with this kind of targeting.
And, it can escalate further: electronic harassment, dirty tricks, political control technology (mind control) to make you look mentally ill to others, destroy personal relationships, wreck your income, and sabotage your life. For that, I wrote MC Realities, another how-to.
But it can also lead to the worst of all possible escalations; NDAA vanishing. If truly a pain in the neck to the government, a threat which needs to be dealt with more urgently… you can ‘legally’ (so they claim) kidnap you and make you vanish without any legal process. They can elect to torture you or give you over to some other country for ‘processing.’ Or, if they want, they can murder you and dispose of your body. This is how we know we are living in a tyrannical Police State, and why, then, government dare not tolerate free thinkers without Trolling them, and trampling on rights and freedoms at every turn, and why fear mongering is their number one justification. ‘Oooh… terrorists are everywhere! We need to TSA and NSA your ass for your own safety.’
What should I do if I encounter a social media troll?
What to do with a Troll
I personally do not mind their presence so much as some might. I enjoy providing them with disinformation, or provoking them to try to chase down a given pathway of dialogs only to suddenly drop the matter as if it never happened, or I don’t really care, or even was deliberately jerking their chain. I even kid them.
But most people would prefer to unfriend them, and there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Just know they will be right back with a new identity. It may be better to deal with the ones you know than to worry about finding the new ones you don’t yet know.
My favorite thing, however, is to educate them. I like posting factual material which challenges their personal beliefs that their job and their boss are operating on valid or just principles or beliefs, and purposes. I make them ashamed or feel guilt, whenever possible. It does not work with everyone, of course, but it is fun to try.
Are social media trolls dangerous?
Your privacy and personal safety could be at stake if you are in the hands of Trolls. The threat level is determined by how much our paranoid government fears people who fear government’s growing fascist police state/spying mentality, and dare to talk openly about it. The more vocal you are, or the more aligned with or closer in links to others of like mind, or the more active you are elsewhere on the Web, or the more followers you have, and even the kinds of searches you make (that, too, is being watched by government) and certainly, your own original postings… each of these things determine if you might become the victim of someone else’s Troll, or have a Troll assigned to you, and what kind of Troll.
And once your ‘threat level’ has been assessed, that could lead to escalations that you will not likely want to experience. If you get a sense that such escalations are already in place or happening, by all means read my books, because they will help you know for sure, help identify the players, and form defenses. You can also contact me personally for free and for-fee online consulting or direct intervention services.
It’s what I do when I’m not being a thorn in the side of tyranny… and attracting Trolls.