Whitney Phillips got her PhD from the University of Oregon in English with a Folklore structured emphasis. But the subject of her dissertation was Internet trolls.

This very interesting article goes on to discuss the troll as an element of the population that is on the rise.

In terms of either the commercially-focused or the sociopolitical application of social media are attempts to either make money or get some traction in actually adding back value to the greater citizenry (as well as being vain attempts at vanity and a realisation that ‘kids’ matter far more than many ever thought that they did)

My point on it all is that since Trolls often accomplish disorder and can make a very big difference in skewing or changing opinions, how soon until we see an industry built around them? After all, companies, politicians, political parties, investment bankers and governments are already paying trolls to spread disinformation: how common a practice is it today I can’t say but I do predict that in the future it will become so commonplace that the thought of it (along with the diminishing value of social media when automated, for example) is already causing me pain.

Whitney Phillips hunts trolls. For the past four years she’s watched them on forums and Facebook, studied patterns in their behavior, chatted online with a few, and even met a small handful.

It’s no small feat. These are tricksters prone to digital disruption and online hijinks for all kinds of reasons or none at all. And their dependence on anonymity makes them harder to track down than their Grimm namesakes. “You can’t just walk up to a troll and have a heart-to-heart,” Phillips says. But over the years, she’s built up relationships with trolls of all stripes and gotten as close as anyone to understanding what makes their tribe tick.

A troll once described a troll as “a normal person who does insane things on the Internet.” “Insane” could mean a whole range of different things–from mildly annoying behavior like Rickrolling to vicious attacks on Facebook memorial pages dedicated to dead children. So what, exactly, makes a troll a troll? That’s been the focus of the last few years of Phillips’s academic life, leading up to her newly earned PhD. She’s Dr. Troll now.   

See the full article here


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