The Secret Playbook of Internet Trolls



Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
What’s confusing you
Is the nature of my game

– The Rolling Stones

The reason that Internet trolls are effective is that people still don’t understand their game.

There are 15 commonly-used trolling tactics to disrupt, misdirect and control internet discussions.

As one interesting example, trolls start flame wars because – according to two professors – swearing and name-calling shut down our ability to think and focus.

And trolls will often spew divisive attacks so that people argue against each other, instead of bad actions and policies of the powers-that-be.   For example, trolls will:

Start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like “all Jews are selfish”, “all Christians are crazy” or “all Muslims are terrorists”.

Yesterday, the alternative news site Common Dreams caught a troll using scores of different user names to spew anti-Semitic bile. (Common Dreams discovered that the same troll was behind the multiple user names by tracking their IP addresses. And the troll confessed to Common Dreams.)

The troll is a “a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website’s discussion of issues involving Israel”.

He posted anti-Semitic diatribes – such as Hitler should have finished the job and killed all Jews – using one alias.  Then – a couple of minutes later – he’d post an attack on the first poster using a different alias, claiming that criticism of Israel is the same thing as anti-Semitism.  (Note: Holocaust survivors and Israeli ministers say it’s not.)

Why would a Jew post vile anti-Semitic comments?  Because normal people are offended by – and don’t want to be associated with – pure, naked anti-Semitism, and so they will avoid such discussions.  If the discussion was originally criticizing a specific aspect of Israeli policy, the discussion will break down, and the actual point regarding policy will be lost.

Similarly, anti-Semitic posts weaken websites by making them seem less reputable. Indeed, Common Dreams says that the troll’s anti-Semitic comments drove away many of that site’s largest donors … dealing a severe blow to its continued viability. That’s exactly what trolls spewing anti-Semitic bile are trying to do: shut down logical discussion and discredit and weaken sites which allow rational criticism of policy.

It is well-known that foreign  governments and large companies troll online. See this, this this, and this. For example, the Israeli government is paying students to post pro-Israeli comments online.

And American students are also attempting to influence internet discussion.

While the Common Dreams troll claims that he’s not sponsored by the state of Israel, government  agencies have manipulated  Internet discussion for years. This includes the use of multiple “socket puppet” aliases.  The potential for mischief is stunning.

Unless we learn their game …



5 Responses to The Secret Playbook of Internet Trolls

  1. jimmysaville'slittleblackbook says:

    Yes, yes and yes to all of this. Facebook is currently CRAWLING with what I call "Monsantrolls", people who are paid to mock and troll anybody who questions or challenges Big Agriculture's horrid practices.

    Their modus operandi is so obvious, whenever you post something, (no matter how diplomatic or eloquent) that they don't like, they call you really classy names like "dumb ass" or "poopy head".

    I used to get upset about it, but if you think about it, it only shows their level of desperation, because they realize how many people are awakening all over the planet. So whenever I see Monsantrolls lashing out, I do a happy dance, because they know that we know that their days are numbered!

    • Mary Noonan says:

      It seems like trolls on IMGUR are targeting our youth with "Anti-Vaxers are bad" and "all War is good" mantra.  They want to shut down any contrary thought. They don't want anyone thinking for themselves. Instead of knowing that some medications, including vaccinations, can have side effects and most of us sane citizens do not support war, but these trolls are selling it to our kids like everyone thinks their way and anyone else is an idiot.

  2. Fred Milton Olsen says:

    Here’s the link to the info on controlling online polls:

  3. Fred Milton Olsen says:

    Add this into the equation: “the ability to change online polls”– The NSA (and probably other alphabet soup agencies) have it, the Brit GCHQ has it, and undoubtedly intelligence partner / intelligence enemy Israel has it (they may have even developed it and brought it to the table).

    USA, England, and Israel all mess with our heads with online lies and propaganda, having the gall to charge us taxpayers for their trollish games. I’m sure other countries do it, too.

    USA’s so-called “public radio” is a great example of a sophisticated propaganda machine that doubles as a stealth-corporate-advertising-and-fake-corporate-“news” delivery system.

  4. RealCloudsLover says:

    You have a bunch of great links embedded in that article re trolls. Thank you! I saved them all, including your article link.

    Coincidentally, just last night I was reading a Christian blog’s older article re the very same subject (they said “Christian Forums” are also full of pack-dog astroturfers who try to keep posters from exposing the Truth re the ecumenical “One World Religion” fraud) & they included this other link to a Guardian article re same (not the same 12/2010 Guardian article you linked to; this one is from 2/2011, just in case you’d like to add even more “troll proof”):

    2/23/11: “The need to protect the internet from ‘astroturfing’ grows ever more urgent”:


    Also, I want to commend you re your excellent site layout, very neat & tidy; love the side columns/lists; & that, even with lots of photos, it loads fast & works superbly on an older iphone via Opera Mini browser which, amazingly, renders it in FULL-Site View — just what I love! — vs like too many other sites that FORCE us on to buggy slow miserable “Mobile Versions” of their sites! So don’t ever waste time, $$, effort thinking people want a stripped-down “Mobile Version.” We don’t! It’s a big fat presumption that toooo many site owners have fallen for. 🙂 Thanks again!

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