Author Topic: Inside the World of Online Trolls: article from this Sunday's NY Times Magazine  (Read 10942 times)

John Junk 2.0

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Definitely very depressing and disturbing.  Also a total fotchan buzzkill. 

I'm pretty perplexed at the editorializing done in the last few paragraphs of that piece.  Seems like the guy profiled two really hardcore mutants, didn't really give any examples of anything socially redeeming about that stuff in general (except some anonymous posters have the capacity to think that empathy is "good") and was trying to argue that it shows how the internet is strong and shouldn't be policed.  How does that work exactly?  What's so great about this nazi goblin child having access to my social security number again??

Sarah

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After reading the article, I tried to cheer myself up by watching Ken Loach's latest laff-fest, It's a Free World. SPOILER ALERT: It made me even more depressed. Completely destroyed any hopes and dreams for the future of our society I might have had.

Then when I left my apartment a neighbor had put up a note saying that someone had broken into his apartment and completely cleaned out the place. In broad daylight. And no-one saw a thing.

Have a great weekend everybody  :-\

Happy birthday, Martin!

P.S.  It's a Free World sounds like my precise cup of tea. 

Emerson

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How does that work exactly?  What's so great about this nazi goblin child having access to my social security number again??

The LULZ. Pay attention.
"You said it. I didn't."

Susannah

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I know the guy who wrote this article--he used to be the publisher for the Philadelphia Independent, which I believe is now defunct.  I just know him as "Matt."


I guess in some way reading this article made me feel justified in participating in an online community comprised of people I've felt compelled to meet, and many have become good friends.  I'm not sure about Matt's overall thesis, but I sure am glad that none of the FOT (even James!) approach anything close to that level of mutantcy.

yesno

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the article also fails to distinguish between "hacking" which can be good or bad, but is a technical skill, and "trolling," which is internetese for being an asshole.

Susannah

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Just wondering now: what do "Weev" and Jeff Fortuny have to gain from being profiled in this article? Do you think they just thrive on the attention and publicity?  Wouldn't they prefer to remain relatively anonymous, or am I missing something?

At work, we talk a lot about "cyberbullying" and how to prevent it, which was something I didn't have to worry about as a teenager.  I keep marveling about how, in the six short years since I've graduated from high school, the opportunities for adolescent cruelty have grown by leaps and bounds.  Students at my school (and, since it's 6th-12th grades, all-girls, we see the worst of the "Mean Girls" dynamics) constantly find themselves the subjects of "Gossip Girl"-style anonymous blogs, and find grainy cell-phone pictures of themselves misbehaving all over the web. I can talk about limiting an internet persona until I'm blue in the face, and encourage my students to keep their MySpace and Facebook privacy settings as restricted as possible, but it doesn't make a difference.  I'm also not sure how much of this should fall under the jurisdiction of the school to protect its students, and how much the students' parents are aware of these issues.

This is sticky ethical ground--my school administrators feel that photographic evidence of a student misbehaving (maybe drinking a beer or something) popping up on Facebook is grounds for punishment if it's brought to the school's attention as a violation of school policy, and they also feel compelled to investigate any rumors of bad behavior that might show up (however unsubstantiated) on blogs belonging to students.  I'm not sure how I feel about this...and I'm not sure what this has to do with the OP, sorry, I'm rambling.  What do you think?

yesno

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Susannah, it reminds me of the issue whereby more and more people are being denied entry into the US from Canada not because rules have changed, but because border agents have increased access to databases which reveal evidence of past minor misbehavior.

I would say that a school should look into evidence that surfaces through those means of really serious crimes, but turn a blind eye to evidence that surfaces of petty stuff.  I suppose there are liability issues where the school feels that if it doesn't act in response to reports of, say, underage drinking, it could be held responsible for anything that goes wrong, that need to be worked out.  I know that if I worked in a school, I would want to know as little as possible about what my students were up to, given the shit that I did in high school.

Denim Gremlin

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Just wondering now: what do "Weev" and Jeff Fortuny have to gain from being profiled in this article? Do you think they just thrive on the attention and publicity?  Wouldn't they prefer to remain relatively anonymous, or am I missing something?

At work, we talk a lot about "cyberbullying" and how to prevent it, which was something I didn't have to worry about as a teenager.  I keep marveling about how, in the six short years since I've graduated from high school, the opportunities for adolescent cruelty have grown by leaps and bounds.  Students at my school (and, since it's 6th-12th grades, all-girls, we see the worst of the "Mean Girls" dynamics) constantly find themselves the subjects of "Gossip Girl"-style anonymous blogs, and find grainy cell-phone pictures of themselves misbehaving all over the web. I can talk about limiting an internet persona until I'm blue in the face, and encourage my students to keep their MySpace and Facebook privacy settings as restricted as possible, but it doesn't make a difference.  I'm also not sure how much of this should fall under the jurisdiction of the school to protect its students, and how much the students' parents are aware of these issues.

This is sticky ethical ground--my school administrators feel that photographic evidence of a student misbehaving (maybe drinking a beer or something) popping up on Facebook is grounds for punishment if it's brought to the school's attention as a violation of school policy, and they also feel compelled to investigate any rumors of bad behavior that might show up (however unsubstantiated) on blogs belonging to students.  I'm not sure how I feel about this...and I'm not sure what this has to do with the OP, sorry, I'm rambling.  What do you think?


snitches get stitches
I was the first guy in hardcore to whip people with his belt.

Emerson

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Just wondering now: what do "Weev" and Jeff Fortuny have to gain from being profiled in this article? Do you think they just thrive on the attention and publicity?  Wouldn't they prefer to remain relatively anonymous, or am I missing something?

Fortuny is nothing if not a try-hard publicity whore.

And beneath all the antagonism, both of them seem to think of themselves as Important Intellectuals Of Our Time, with a Message that Must Be Heard. If I thought I was among the <1% of humans that deserved to be alive, I'd certainly want everyone else to know about it.

This is sticky ethical ground--my school administrators feel that photographic evidence of a student misbehaving (maybe drinking a beer or something) popping up on Facebook is grounds for punishment if it's brought to the school's attention as a violation of school policy, and they also feel compelled to investigate any rumors of bad behavior that might show up (however unsubstantiated) on blogs belonging to students.  I'm not sure how I feel about this...and I'm not sure what this has to do with the OP, sorry, I'm rambling.  What do you think?

Too much free time. Tell them to go scrub the gang tags off the urinals.
"You said it. I didn't."

John Junk 2.0

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Susannah, that's one of the reasons I'm not on facebook anymore.  Students would befriend me on that thing, and then I'd be privy to photos of their travails, misbehavior, etc.  I guess school's have a kind of "obligation" to investigate these things, but those policies have usually been drafted long before the cyber age.  I think following through on rumours is always a bad route, but sometimes it seems necessary.  If you get several different students saying another student has a drug habit, it would seem appropriate to speak with the student about this possibility, but obviously not to assume they actually have a drug problem, but bear in mind that they (A) may have a legitimate drug problem that their friends are concerned about, or (B) are being thrown under the bus by other students for whatever reason and need to know that you are fair and will listen to all sides of a story and will not "punish" them outright, or (C) are being misunderstood by others who don't necessarily have ill will towards them but nevertheless are complicating their day with their baseless assumptions that they are on drugs.  I don't think it's right to use myspace or facebook pics as evidence against students --it's a TOTAL slippery slope because then you become complicit with malicious blackmail attempts and other such nonsense.  It's important for a school to be above that. I feel like it's important to maintain a degree of integrity when dealing with younger people.  You're supposed to actually lead by example, after all.

I personally wouldn't have any problem if the shit was regulated out of the internet.  I mean, I'd miss the freedom to say dumb shit a little, but it's not like my life will be less nuanced if my net freedoms are impinged upon.  This is all mostly time-killing and O.C.D. habit stuff for me.

todd

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The problem with articles like this is that they have a tendency to make trolls out to be this force to be reckoned with. They're just sad little men doing sad little things.

gravy boat

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Susannah,
Don't know if you missed this story about a New York City prep school that had crazy Myspace goings-on and cyber-bullying of students, and even teachers getting bullied and canned, but it sounds similar to some of the stuff in your school.  http://nymag.com/news/features/45592/

I think John Junk is right -- teachers and admins should just ignore facebook or myspace and not use it as a basis to investigate a student.  To me, that just legitimizes any rumors or other crap floating around on the pages.

erika

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While I think it may be outside the school's moral jurisdiction to punish kids for what they see on the internet, they should most definitely be reporting that shit to the parents.
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todd

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While I think it may be outside the school's moral jurisdiction to punish kids for what they see on the internet, they should most definitely be reporting that shit to the parents.

Really? I don't think its the schools job to police children outside of the school.

erika

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If a kid is involved with "cyberbullying" or whatever and the teacher catches wind of it then yeah, I think they should tell the parents of the kids involved. It's then up to the parents to do whatever punishing or whatever.

My opinion.
from the land of pleasant living