brand new video:
       
get all 177 hours of
presentations here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

professional trolls, aka corporate trolls  RSS feed

 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 778
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
36
bike books chicken dog forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I've heard a concern that just signing up for this kind of webinar, SBA and Yelp Present: Success With Online Reviews (2 sessions in Feb. 2014), will put the attendee on a government watch list


I have no earthly idea why this would put people on a watch list, or what type of list it would even be. Any idea? I knew a guy who worked for the NSA and he said his job was basically going through private emails all day looking for different things at different times. I wonder, if they are at that level checking your inbox, why they would need you to sign up for something before they start watching you?
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
392
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good point, Zach.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
54
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just a note of caution - in another context one another forum there was a case of someone bashing the product without due cause. A whole bunch of forum goers leaped into action to "defend their territory/ideals" and the resulting problems caused were far worse than the original incident, and lasted for far longer.

The only action you need to take if you think someone is trolling is to click the "report to mod" button - it is quite easy to see from someones posting history if they are a spammer/regular visitor/pushing an agenda etc...
 
Chad Sentman
Posts: 189
11
bee books chicken duck fish forest garden hugelkultur solar urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/
For your consideration, worth a look.
 
Kevin EarthSoul
Posts: 135
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:Even if the story is entirely fiction, I think that most of the details are perfectly accurate.

I know, for a fact, that corporate trolls exist. I suspect that there are about 40,000 people that work as corporate trolls at any given moment - and that this is a growth industry.



What if we were to find good, ethical companies, and hire ourselves out to troll for them?

Hmmmm...
 
Bill Ramsey
Posts: 86
Location: SW Georgia, zone 8b
7
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Trolls destroy the civility of a forum and that's why I've stated several times how much i like the rules of this one. Intelligent moderators with the "nerve" to own their website is the key to managing them. An opinion that differs from someone else's is not a problem but needing to out shout everyone is. Just my 2 cents...
 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
392
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's what I just posted in the real sounding name thread:

I listened to Star Talk Radio's podcast episode The Digital Revolution with Arianna Huffington. Regardless of how one feels about the Huffington Post, I think they are quite successful, i.e. HUGE, in their reach across the web.

One of the most salient points to me, from this episode, was about trolls and their relation to anonymous posting. Huffington relates that the Post had some of the most advanced algorithms available at the time for reducing/preventing/dealing with trolls. And they found it wasn't enough. So they hired 30 people, full time, to help. (30 people, people!!) It still wasn't enough. So then, they disallowed anonymous posts. Boom. Problem largely solved.

It seems Paul's been ahead of the curve on this one for quite some time! These other media giants are learning it the hard way!

 
Jocelyn Campbell
steward
Posts: 4205
Location: Missoula, MT
392
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just for the New Year, two additional comments, even if not completely about professional trolls (only).

This first is a video that Burra posted to another thread (which I couldn't find!). I think it's absolutely brilliant.



The second is Amy Schumer's tweet from a couple days ago.



She nailed it.
 
Cathy Wilde
Posts: 9
Location: Co. Cork, Ireland, Europe
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my opinion the best answer to trolls is already implemented here: Carefully moderated boards, opportunity for any of us to instantly report suspect posts, the fact that the mods and helpers are aware of the possibility of trolls attacking this site puts us way ahead. We have excellent rules to ensure polite and carefully reasoned opinions are acceptable, but unsubstantiated claims will always be questioned by independent minded permies 😊 I read the link from Paul above about paid and government funded trolls and was not surprised. Even here in little Ireland I see backers of GMO's very active on farming and gardening sites. Also climate change deniers. 'to be aware is to be prepared' . Permies.com is a priceless resource for all of us seeking to save our planet and the many species that live here.I presume the 'back yard'team have everything backed up and attack proofed? Let us go forward to world domination in the knowledge that we are in good hands
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22340
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:I didn't create it. Somebody else created it. And then they made me an admin of the page and un-admin-ed themselves.

I know very little about fb. I know that a lot of people spend almost all day there - any one of those people knows about 30 times more than I do.

I reluctantly created an fb page about seven years ago. Jocelyn talked me into it.

I check there about once a week.

Currently, Jocelyn and Destiny seem to post stuff at the fan page.

Recently there was a post there of a meme that we created years ago.



I didn't even notice the post until two days later.

I know that years ago it would go up on facebook and there were 95% positive comments and one of the negative comments was something like "prove it!" - so I added my "quickie proof" to this thread: http://www.permies.com/t/16161/md/Subsidies-penalties-true-cost-food

This was a quote that was trimmed from a podcast I recorded about the movie farmageddon.

http://www.permies.com/t/16082/permaculture-podcast/podcast-farmaggedon-movie-review

If I remember correctly, there was a point in the movie where a woman was talking about how difficult it was to get organic certification for her little farmers market stand. Not only the fees, but the monthly paperwork was three inches thick.

Back to the recent post on facebook ..... here is some of the stuff that appeared on the paul wheaton fan page in response to this meme ....

When you compare conventional produce and organic produce, there is no nutritional benefit of one vs the other. However buying organic food gives you an innate desire to be an asshole, to tell others how crappy their food choices are, to justify one's position with whatever made up stats they can think of, and to follow people like David Wolfe and Vani Hari. Oh and, you become gluten intolerant overnight too.


Organic agriculture gets -plenty- of subsidies. As far as I know, there are no organic 'penalties'.


Could you please cite your sources for this information? Specifically, what organic penalties are there? And what subsidies are only available to conventional farmers?


Why say "chem-ag"? Organic has just as many syllables as the word chemical. Oh wait, you're trying to make it sound bad so you can scare people. Nice try though.


I love how organic proponents all seem to be under the hugely mistaken impression that organic means pesticide-free, which is patently untrue. USDA Organic-approved pesticides are generally more toxic than synthetic pesticides, and includes known carcinogens.


The only reason Organics cost more is because fool's will pay more, you know, "suckers". Unless it's the fact Organics use more pesticides.


Are you implying that "organic" methods of production don't utilize matter?


Link to the data and analyses used to reach that conclusion?


A quote on a pretty picture passes for evidence these days?


Care to provide evidence and data to support these claims?


When you lie out your ass to continue to spread fear instead of facts and truth.


In what wonderland do you live in Mr. Wheaton? That's some funny math you got there.


Did you... Did you just quote yourself?

"Paul Wheaton makes up bullshit"


I'd really like to see citations for this...


What absolute bollocks


I think I just copied about 3/4 of the comments that were at the top level. There were some permies that tried to help these folks but they were pretty shouted down.

Mark Hornbaker: Yea Paul Wheaton, where's the link to back up this claim? What do expect us to do? Use our own brains, type in a search and research this on our own That's completely unacceptable!! Funny thing, I just watched a 2+ hour video of yours where talked about this very thing. What was the phrase you used? People expect you to be their own personal google b@$ch ?


The thing I once read which I think is funny is "I'm not your fucking google mommy!"


So .... I say something in a podcast and somebody pops it into a meme. Somebody else creates a fb fan page. And a third person posts the meme to the page. Apparently I am responsible for monitoring all of this and making myself available for responding to the crazy.

I wonder if any of these folks are paid corporate trolls?


The important thing is: I am glad that we have a forum where we can talk about the things we want to talk about in the way we want to talk about them.




I posted this in a different thread. And now I realize that it belongs in this thread.

There is no way to be certain that these are paid trolls. But I suspect that they are.

I've been reading some stuff recently by people that openly share their permaculture and homesteading adventures and are getting seriously discouraged by the negative remarks. Discouraged from sharing, and some are even getting discouraged from the permaculture and homesteading. My position is that this is evidence of how effective it is to be a corporate troll. And let's suppose that these people are not being paid - they are people that simply have strong opinions in this space. In which case, my position is that nearly all of them arrived at this position due to being exposed to an army of corporate trolls.

To all of those people that are feeling discouraged: post your awesome blogs, but with the comments turned off. Tell people that they can comment on each blog with a thread at permies. That crap all gets deleted here.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22340
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

source

I wish to be really clear on what a corporate troll is ....

A company could pay $200,000,000 for advertising to convince people that it is wise to purchase their product. But if they pay one tenth of that for advertising combined with one tenth again for human beings to comment all over the internet on how great this product is (corporate trolls), then the final effect is greater than the $200,000,000 approach.

Saying the same thing a different way: by using corporate trolls, you sell more and you get an 80% discount.

So, there could be a comment on the internet that says "I like my chevy pickup". The corporate trolls at ford have a google watch setup to send an email for every time the word "chevy" appears. But it takes a while for the google spider to find those words, so the statement "I like my chevy pickup." sits there for about an hour and a half with no further comments. And then suddenly there are a dozen replies:

bob: chevy transmissions always give out in a year.

steve: You lost me, I would never give up my ford pickup.

ed: Chevy? Seriously?

walter: everybody knows that chevy rusts out eleven times faster than anything else.

susan: I think what you mean to say is that you got swindled into a chevy.

mick: Is it just me or are the new chevy designs really ugly?

dan: A few months ago I test drove a chevy and "new car smell" was replaced with "toxic waste smell." There is no way I would allow my children in a chevy.

joe: after three months of shopping for a new pickup and test driving what seemed like a hundred trucks, I went with ford. In hindsight, I regret all that time spent shopping.

abe: my cousin end up stranded on a busy bridge just four days after buying a brand new chevy truck. He is trying to take it back, but the dealership won't touch it.

bill: Chevy is going under. When they are gone, you won't be able to get parts. And you will need parts.

andy: I think the older chevies are okay - probably on par with the older fords, but the newer chevies are using cheaper parts but the price has not gone down. I advise people to steer clear.

jane: I think you should sell that chevy while you can.


This looks like twelve different people. But it is really two different people - they may or may not be working from the same office. And each post will come from a different IP affiliated with a different email address.

People generally ignore the ads, but they do focus on comments and reviews.

Some companies will have thousands of social media writers like this. They are smart, well paid professionals. They have databases of information on websites - what they can and cannot get away with. Places like fb and reddit are perfect for these people. The job is to make sure that it looks like their organization's position is represented 10-to-1 or more. It doesn't have to be logical or even true. It just has to appear to be a landslide of public opinion.


 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22340
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think a lot of corporate troll stuff is blamed on "internet trolls" and I need to point out that there is a huge difference:

internet trolls: Will say anything to get a rise out of people. Will knowingly state blatantly false stuff just to see people get upset. Will typically post hundreds of posts from the same account in a short period of time. More likely to write really long posts.

corporate trolls: They have a job to do. They need to get a rise out of people to draw attention to their message. Will usually be managing a dozen accounts (sock puppets) simultaneously. The sock puppets will agree with each other and work really hard to discredit anybody with a contrary message. Posts will usually be pretty short. Each account will usually have just a few posts. Sometimes the account will have posting history, but any one account will almost never write a lot of posts within one hour.

Internet trolls, or just "trolls" have been around for decades. Bored people that just want to find some way to get noticed and don't care about the consequences of their actions.

Corporate trolls are fairly new. Just the last five years or so. But they have become really huge in the last two or three years. I would guess that 60% of the comments posted on the internet come from corporate trolls now.
 
Cathy Wilde
Posts: 9
Location: Co. Cork, Ireland, Europe
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And I guess that 90% of Facebook / social media users would not believe that corporate trolls exist. If I put up such a post warning others about how opinions are being manipulated to advance corporate or even government objectives, I would probably be accused of paranoia !!! Or worse !!! Due to mass indoctrination by tv and other trivial entertainment media, the general public have lost the power of critical thinking...if they ever had it.
I remember studying Julius Caesar in school. And how Mark Anthony totally manipulated the crowd in his speech 'I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him' This alerted me to how a good orator can change people's opinions by emotional language, false logic and circular reasoning. That was back in 1969 !!! I had a good English teacher.
So how do 'we' combat this Thought Army that has infiltrated our social media? Permies.com is safe. But what about all the millions of sites with no or poor moderation? Personal pages? Also out into the wider world of the written press and TV / Radio. . .we are being manipulated and have our opinions formed by a few corporations and government agencies.
Its a scary world! What is the truth any more . . . When even scientists who have the ability to prove that a = x can be bought and will publish that a = y even though they know it to be false.
Teaching critical thinking and logic both in schools
and in adult education is vital. . .but will governments allow it? This topic has opened a can of worms . .
 
Colleen Peltomaa
Posts: 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
60% is an unbelievably huge number and I guess that's why I stick with well moderated forums and closed groups on Facebook where everyone shares the purpose of that group.  Personally I've experienced what I call, "THE MUST NOT KNOW" PEOPLE. and they need to make themselves known so that they can loudly and soundly reject in very general wording (not real details - seems all about emotion) whatever I posted or commented on. I do tend to think outside the box at times so I understand their upset - they really didn't want to know THAT.      I treat them differently than I would a paid troll, but those people are why I like to stay within groups with a shared viewpoint and a toe-the-line moderator.  Thanks, Paul.  Regarding moderators though I've sometimes had to leave a group because the moderator could not stretch his viewpoint to encompass mine - then I realized I was not on the right forum or group and gracefully left, not pushing my reality upon another.



paul wheaton wrote:I think a lot of corporate troll stuff is blamed on "internet trolls" and I need to point out that there is a huge difference:

internet trolls:  Will say anything to get a rise out of people.   Will knowingly state blatantly false stuff just to see people get upset.  Will typically post hundreds of posts from the same account in a short period of time.  More likely to write really long posts.

corporate trolls:  They have a job to do.  They need to get a rise out of people to draw attention to their message.   Will usually be managing a dozen accounts (sock puppets) simultaneously.  The sock puppets will agree with each other and work really hard to discredit anybody with a contrary message.   Posts will usually be pretty short.  Each account will usually have just a few posts.  Sometimes the account will have posting history, but any one account will almost never write a lot of posts within one hour.

Internet trolls, or just "trolls" have been around for decades.  Bored people that just want to find some way to get noticed and don't care about the consequences of their actions.

Corporate trolls are fairly new.  Just the last five years or so.  But they have become really huge in the last two or three years.  I would guess that 60% of the comments posted on the internet come from corporate trolls now.
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
George Monbiot has written extensively on this subject. See, for example:
http://www.monbiot.com/2010/12/13/reclaim-the-cyber-commons/
http://www.monbiot.com/2011/02/23/robot-wars/
http://www.monbiot.com/2013/07/15/smoking-gun/

Looking at the references at the end of each article might also be constructive.

As Monbiot observes, such astroturfing seems to be limited to areas where there is a lot of money at stake (he mentions "climate change, public health and corporate tax avoidance"). My suspicion is that, while permaculture is seen as a niche fad for a few middle-class people it's not likely to substantially eat into the profits of big agriculture, and we're likely to be left alone.

With that said, I think it may be worth keeping an eye on areas where this might not be the case.

One is those fields, such as GM (also discussed by Monbiot in one of the links above) and climate change, where astroturfers are known to be active.  In many ways I'm not happy about confining these subjects to the cider press, because it supports the notion that there is controversy, especially when it comes to the latter. That said, it does keep the trolls out: they have to put in a lot of effort for limited return.
The other is the possibility that astroturfers may be posting in order to discredit permaculture, in order to keep it as a niche fad. I think there are two ways in which this might be done. One is by posting material that will make us look less than serious. The other is by deliberate criticism.

The problem is going to be making the distinction. Many people at the more purple end of things may well post out of a genuine (and not always totally misguided) standpoint, just as someone posting on GM may genuinely believe industry propaganda. There is also a discussion on another thread about the "problem with permaculture", and I think that in most cases this reflects a genuine desire to tackle what in many cases is legitimate criticism that we can, with thought, discussion and care, resolve constructively. One legitimate criticism might be that some of us look less than serious. That's not necessarily an attempt to undermine permaculture, but to point out where we might reinforce the foundations.

My solution to ill-informed commenting is typically to challenge it, preferably with as much supporting evidence as possible. As soon as I suspect I'm dealing with a troll, I refer it to the mods. I might suggest sending a more detailed PM to a mod outlining a case rather than just hitting the report button on one post. Some things I'm just likely to treat as disagreement, make a brief case, and be quiet, but not if I suspect a deliberate attempt to undermine.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22340
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Rufus Laggren
Posts: 480
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This hits a button for me. I think it's normal human behavior, but...

Perhaps we need to pay a bit more attention here and take a heads-up from the problems we see on the i-net. Because there is more at stake now than there used to be. The www lowers the bar for easy, anonymous and powerful skulduggery. Very, very powerful skulduggery. Gossip, innuendo, rumor mongering, liable, slander, vilification, bullying, plain lies and various other forms of bad behavior are something we have all seen since nursery school (_He_ did it, Mommy!). They have always been with us. But now such poison can be mass produced for pennies and it's range of affect can reach reach everywhere. Pizza-Gate shows just how quickly "stuff" in the virtual world becomes real. We're not talking just about "virtual reality" here.

Paul laid down a simple rule of behavior here: be nice. I think that may be incomplete but it's certainly a pretty good beginning to guide us in being part or Permies. Practicing that actively will go a long way toward preserving truth here. When we self police, we police everybody.

Finally, as a practical method, when needed, I find myself considering the Huffington Post choice: No anonymity. I'm not sure about this. But a HUGE amount of the badness on the net derives directly from the complete and total absence of accountability. Perhaps there are venues where anonymity would be required, but I don't see that's true of this forum. What is true of this or any forum is that it's a trust construct that's vulnerable to disruption. The more proactive and practiced the members, the stronger the forum so maybe anonymity is OK... But anonymity is what made lynchings easy. Remove the anonymity and mob violence becomes much harder for people. Rioting and looting, ditto. W/out anonymity a person (if I'm any example) takes much more thought and care about what they say and how they say it. There is something be said for unequivocally owning ones words and actions - and by inference stepping away from finger pointing and demonizing other people and entities as untrustworthy, potentially evil. That kind internal rhetoric allows for all sorts of excuses and blame placing and personal slippage. Don't know. Maybe there's a middle ground.

Well, there's thoughts.

Cheers

Rufus
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3558
Location: Anjou ,France
169
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think a lot of trolling I see is about what I term project fear . Look ! Saving seed , Muslims , raw milk , beer , burnt toast , "the media " , orange face paint are all going to kill you !
Ok I made that last one up but you I am sure can see what I mean . It's like we are all babies who have no idea of risk . It's a great tune trust us we will keep you safe says ( insert coporate logo of someone elses preference ).

David
 
chip sanft
pollinator
Posts: 425
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
32
bike books dog urban
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Recent info on the Monsanto paid trolls: <https://www.rt.com/usa/386858-monsanto-hired-trolls-court/>.

"Monsanto even started the aptly-named ‘Let Nothing Go’ program to leave nothing, not even Facebook comments, unanswered; through a series of third parties, it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals, and GMOs."
 
this is supposed to be a surprise, but it smells like a tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!