Report on media manipulation "from radicalized groups that emerged from internet subcultures"

Danah Boyd from Data & Society writes, "The report examines why the media was vulnerable to manipulation from radicalized groups that have emerged from a variety of internet subcultures. We're seeing an intentional and systematic attack on institutions and information intermediaries and most folks are unaware of the degree to which they are a pawn in others' gameplay. As a result, we are watching good intentions get twisted around and used to harm people, organizations, and democracy."

Emotional affect. The goal of trolling is engendering negative emotional responses in its targets, and as such, requires a certain lack of empathy. Sometimes trolls distance themselves from their victims by constructing arguments for why the victims deserve the abuse. This is the case with many Facebook trolls who post gory pictures and silly jokes to the memorial pages set up for deceased teenagers, justifying this as a reaction to sanctimonious “grief tourists” who pretend to care about people they didn’t know.19 In other instances, trolls scoff that their targets care too much about the internet, which, after all, is not “real life.” The ability to create this response is discussed as if a game, with trolls working together to “score points”— an indignant, angry, or tearful response is the ultimate goal.

Poe’s Law. A very successful troll plays with ambiguity in such a way that the audience is never quite sure whether or not they are serious. This is a key feature of many subcultural spaces, where racist speech and content is bandied around in such a way that it can be read either as the trolling of political correctness or as genuine racism.20 Determining intent is often impossible, especially given that participants are most often anonymous.

Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online [Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis/Data & Society]