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Internet Trolls

From fake hurricane tweets to anonymous online viciousness, we look at the “troll factor” in the national conversation.

The "trollface", first appearing in 2008,[1] is occasionally used to indicate trolling in Internet culture. (Photo illustration)

The “trollface”, which first appeared in 2008, is occasionally used to indicate trolling in Internet culture. (Photo illustration)

News from the world of Internet trolls lately.  In the midst of Hurricane Sandy, of emergency and life and death, trolls on Twitter posting false reports of power outage and crisis where it wasn’t.

In the midst of online site Reddit, a mega-troll and pedophile promoter, unveiled.  Outed.  The migration of so much of our national conversation to the web has opened a door to the troll – the anonymous prankster bully vandal derailer of discourse.  Trolls say wait a minute, we’ve got a point.  Do they?

This hour, On Point:  Internet trolls.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Jonathan ZittrainProfessor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He’s the author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.

Whitney Phillips, lecturer on digital culture at New York University. A “digital ethnographer,” she wrote her dissertation on internet trolls. You can read her blog here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Gawker “His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit. At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called “Creepshots.” Now Brutsch was the one feeling exposed and it didn’t suit him very well.”

Business Insider “An influential netizen came under angry scrutiny Tuesday after dramatic information he announced on his widely-followed Twitter account at the peak of deadly superstorm Sandy was found to be false.”

CNN “Days after the Gawker article, Brutsch agreed to talk exclusively to CNN on camera at a hotel room in Fort Worth, about six miles from his home. He said his employer fired him after the Gawker article. He had worked there for seven years.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/misterflak Mike Flak

    Question for the panel: 

    I’ve played the troll-role in the past, mostly on message boards of the self-righteous, and it being an experiment in how far the parody could go before my troll-identity was discovered. I’m not sure if this was ego-fulfillment (“I’m smarter than these people
    ) or “social-commentary”. My guess is a tad bit of both.
    My question would be: Where is the fine line between ‘satirist’ and ‘troll’? When does something cross the line between constructive commentary/entertainment to crass/destructive-to-dialogue? If you had to put rules on ‘troll etiquette’, what would they be? 

  • Derick_Mickles

    What is a “Troll?” Our nation has become a society of neigh shut-in’s and they only expose themselves to others who share their worldviews. At this point anyone who doesn’t agree with someone else is labeled a “Troll.” The art of polite human interaction has been sidelined by technology to the point where just disagreeing with someone is seen as some kind of subterfuge. It’s twisted and sick. 

    • Acnestes

      This is a troll. From Wikipedia: an internet term for a person who, through willful action, attempts to
      disrupt a community or garner attention and controversy through
      provocative messages.

      To hold a different point of view does not make one a troll.  Being an obnoxious jerk bent on self aggrandizement makes one a troll.

    • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

      Yeah, I was coming over to make that same point. It’s something I see a lot because I discuss topics in science that politically contentious. Even if you try to stick to the data, when the opponents get frustrated they just call you a troll and a shill. You can’t go anywhere after that.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    People have become ever more mean and nasty in the last 30 or so years. I see it everyday. Many years ago when I was drinking in bars around town, on three different occasions, I had three different younger men ( as I was fairly young at that time ) come up to me and say, “ I’ve got a knife. “ , as if to impress me or attempt to somehow find some kind of thrill by trying to shake me up or God only knows what ! Trolling is just another way of trying to stick you with a knife. Most of these people ( probably boys that never grew up, due to a lack of father in the home ) are just plain deficient in a sense of right and wrong !

    PS I rarely scare easily.

  • http://twitter.com/GoldenSRL Golden

    #SluipShow #Moesha 420 69 xXSmokeWeedErryDayXx #WriteInGolden #Door6 #Fiftybucks

    • http://twitter.com/Sluipy Sluip Ok

      B FrankerZ O FrankerZ N FrankerZ U FrankerZ S FrankerZ
      #420NoScopexXx

  • Corrodias

    (1:23:07 AM) Corrodias: the harvest moon was a complete joke, i suppose. an insult to the viewers.
    (1:23:12 AM) Corrodias: is that true?

  • LinRP

    Take a look at the On Point comment section on any given day and you will find several trolls. It ruins the conversation on many a day here.

  • AC

    i agree with LinRP about how it ruins conversations. what’s really odd is that i’d almost think ‘meh’ if it was contained to a certain age group, but it seems often times the troll is too angry and derisive to be anything other than adults.
    sometimes you can feel the petty glee and spite they enjoy in trolling. it drives me crazy when people fall for it, some are so obvious
    other times, i’ve wondered if there are such things as ‘paid trolls’: looking at angry tea-party type people, i think someone in marketing may have come up with trolling to get the pitch-fork mobs going against something or other - whatever the competition is they want damaged…is there such a thing? paid trolls? i wouldn’t be surprised….

    • Don_B1

      I do believe that there are paid trolls. They are typically those who put forward the same short snide comments, and do not make substantive contributions to interchanges between other posters.

      When their comment is shown to be incorrect, they respond with some inanity or disappear for that thread, only to repeat the same debunked comment at the next opportunity.

  • Ray in VT

    I think that the medium creates part of the problem.  There is by and large no recourse or consequence for abominable behavior online, so it becomes easier.  It’s much harder for most people to be miserable directly to someone’s face.

  • Shag_Wevera

    By the definition offered below, I am a Troll.  The relative anonymity of  a forum like this allows me to express myself in an open and honest way that I might not be able to with my boss, a co-worker, my neighbor, or even members of my family.  I find it refreshing and even cathartic.
     
    I now return underneath my bridge, from where I shall frighten the villagers who try to cross.  I cannot however promise that I shall not return here today!

    • AC

      but it does not seem to be a form of ‘argument’ or ‘persuasion’ if you only use anger, insults and sarcasm to make a point, so – what is ‘open and honest’? that confuses me, unless you are just angry and frustrated in general? what do you mean? i have not considered cathrtic as a perspective of trolling…..

      • Shag_Wevera

        I try to make a reasonable argument, so maybe I’m not a troll?  Too bad, I’ve got a nice setup under the bridge.

    • Mike_Card

      And here come the billy goats gruff.

  • Gregg Smith

    I think the term is mostly used on those who disagree. It’s much easier to call someone a troll than to defend the ludicrous arguments often made. I think commenter Derick_Mickles said it well when he was attacked and accused of being a troll for expressing his opinion without getting personal:

    “So anyone with an opinion, based upon legitimate questions is a troll? It is you sir who are trolling here, not I. You can’t tell me that my viewpoint is not legitimate. I am an adult, American, speaking my own mind. My viewpoint is shared by many as well. Instead of insulting me why don’t you address the questions I’ve posed in an adult and civil manner?” 

    So many in this bubble have no idea what the real America thinks. When confronted they lash out and get personal. Being called a “troll” is nothing. Conservatives are called racist or incapable of independent thought every day around here. 

    • Shag_Wevera

      I think the term “real America” is absolutely undefineable.

      • Ray in VT

        Sure it is.  It is any area where people with whom you disagree are the majority.

        • Don_B1

          Depending on the subject, a person’s opinion may be based on narrow experience, an ideology of how things should be, or the empirical results from measurements taken in the real world.

          The issues that lead to trolls advocating theories not supported by ANY data arise mostly in these areas:

          1) Climate change, evolution, etc.

          2) Taxation as a stimulus to the economy

          3) Inequality and its relationship to a strong economy.

          The latter has not been discussed nearly enough.

          Areas that are subject to ideology with which everyone can have an opinion and which “facts” are not subject to being “correct” or “incorrect” are things like:

          1) Free market economies are the best even when they lead to wild growth and then crashes of the economy

          2) Regulation of a capitalist economy provides the best possible world between the wild extremes of unfettered capitalism and rigid socialism.

          In these subjects, the amount of regulation, the way that regulation is provided are subject to differing opinions, though there might be facts that would indicate which types are more likely to provide the desired result than others.

          But ‘trolls” are those that make spurious claims about the proven science of climate change, without making ANY effort to base their “pseudo-claims” in any real data. They refuse to enter any serious discussion of the data, and just raise their same erroneous claims time after time.

          It is like those who long tried to claim that cigarette smoking was not dangerous to the health of the smoker or those around the smoker. [The latest study shows that work places that prohibit smoking have workers that suffer fewer heart attacks.]

          • Ray in VT

            I find some of the things that you cite to be annoying.  Historical topics are ones that get me.  I can see varying perspectives, at least to a point, because beyond a certain point some positions cannot be supported by objective facts, and the insistence upon such positions in such circumstances strikes me as ignorance at the very least.

      • JGC

        I am going to guess “the real America” is equivalent to “The Silent Majority”.   Which gives me uncomfortable Nixonian flashbacks…

      • JGC

        I am going to guess “the real America” is equivalent to “The Silent Majority”.   Which gives me uncomfortable Nixonian flashbacks…

      • nj_v2

        Real Americans are the ones that agree with Greggg.

        • Gregg Smith

          I don’t know about that but they certainly disagree with you.

    • ttajtt

       : its a Thought before a Feeling of a Behavior. 

    • ttajtt

       : its a Thought before a Feeling of a Behavior. 

    • ttajtt

       : its a Thought before a Feeling of a Behavior. 

    • ttajtt

       : its a Thought before a Feeling of a Behavior. 

    • ttajtt

       : its a Thought before a Feeling of a Behavior. 

    • JGC

      On the other hand, commenter Derick_Mickles also replied yesterday to a (progressive?) commenter:

      “You must not be an American, because you sure don’t understand the attitude that built this great nation.  Russia or China may be more to your liking as well.”

      So much for the adult and civil manner, and “the art of polite human interaction”.

      • Gregg Smith

        Fair but I’d have to read the context. My view is getting personal is never the best way to convince or at least influence. I think heated passionate debate is fine until it gets personal. Speaking for myself, I have been called every name in the book often without any rebuttal. I usually either ignore it or reply “Alrighty then” signifying the futility. At the same time being a doormat for abuse is not optimal. Sometimes it requires a return punch.

        • JGC

          That is true (about “every name in the book”), and unwarranted in my opinion.  “Alrighty then” is a great,kind of old-fashioned (in a good way) reply to end a conversation that is going nowhere. I am going to try it on my uncle in Georgia the next time he harangues me for voting for Obama.   :) 

      • Shag_Wevera

        Take 5$ from petty cash, Perry Mason!!

      • 1Brett1

        Gregg often engages in selective hearing/understanding. He agrees with Derrick’s views, hence the feigned persecuted feelings…

        • Gregg Smith

          Perfect example of a vacuous gratuitously nasty comment.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      It’s good that you provide us with the thinking of “real” Americans, lest we be fooled by the muddled reasoning of all those “fake Americans,” whose opinion differs from your own. Many thanks.

    • 1Brett1

      Right, you call people “jerks” but that’s justified…you’re at the least a hypocrite. You are a provocateur then claim you are merely exercising your rights, which is quite passive-aggressive. 

      • Gregg Smith

        I have never called anyone a jerk who was not a jerk. If you received the honor then you are one of a very small group. Anyone who calls me a racist multiple times in lieu of a rebuttal or says I only believe what Rush tells me is getting personal and being a first class jerk. I am as civil as anyone and much more so than most but I’m not a doormat. 

        • 1Brett1

          Sorry, but your suggestion that Colin Powell supports Obama because they are like-skinned then juxtaposing that with a Youtube video of the most vulgar parody of the worst stereotype of a black woman ranting about how she loves Obama, and loves doing nothing with her life so she can collect the government dole, and will vote for him because he’s black IS racist…By the way, your response, aside from calling me a jerk was that you thought what you did was funny.

          • Gregg Smith

            You’re so funny! No one who knows me would for one millisecond consider me even the slightest bit racist but I’ll bet it’s not the first time you’ve been called a jerk.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      I bet you have a lot of experience with the troll issue, Mr Smith :)

      “Troll” comes from fishing, meaning you throw the bait out and see if a fish bites. You’re interested in stirring things up and not in the actual discussion. Trolling depends on the context. So you could troll in any sane forum by saying “Obama is a kenyan socialist who wants UN peacekeepers to occupy the USA after he takes your guns away”, but on a TeaOP blog it would be mainstream and noncontroversial.

      Mr Smith, your final remark probably means that you equate the current extreme right with conservative. That’s a common error. Extreme is not conservative. Eisenhower was a lot closer to Obama than to Ryan.

      • hennorama

        Gregg is not a troll by any stretch of the meaning of the term.  He is a passionate true believer, and he defends his beliefs repeatedly and well.  He’s not completely inflexible either, as he has conceded points to me on occasion.

        Without different viewpoints being expressed, this forum would simply be a pointless echo chamber.  Plus, arguing can be fun, entertaining, and can even change some minds and opinions.

        • Gregg Smith

          Thank you Hennorama and back atcha’. On a side note, and I mean no offense, are you really “a roman hen”?

    • nj_v2

      “the real America”

      Greggg resorts to vaporous abstractions. Talk about ludicrous.

      • Gregg Smith

        Troll.

      • hennorama

        Perhaps they are members of or contributors to the hilariously named PAC “Patriotic Americans for a More Patriotic and American America” or the equally hilariously named “Joe Six PAC.”

  • Gregg Smith

    I hope everybody “trolls” by tonight for some live blogging during the election results.

    • JGC

      I am trying to acknowledge your post with the “like”, but I think there are Disqus maintenance issues at the moment.  Put me in the “like” column.

  • ttajtt

    WWF, MMA, gashing of teeth, tv entrainment portraying, cave man vs metro man, what else to do, welcome to the jungle. 

  • J__o__h__n

    Shouldn’t trolls be covered in today’s second hour?

    • AC

      i just got this, HA!

      • 1Brett1

        I probably wouldn’t have “gotten it” either, if not for your comment. I then looked at the second hour…double ha!

    • JGC

      “Like”

    • brettearle

      Maybe, Trolls shouldn’t be covered, at all.

      Much (not all) of the behavior cannot be controlled for the most part, because of Free Speech.

      Programs like today’s first hour–while, admittedly, they interest me–only, however, fuel Troll motivation. 

    • hennorama

      Well done.

      From the second hour: “As we all know, trolls turn to stone in sunlight. ”
      This can be viewed as both a discussion of the main weakness of some trolls in the Tolkein LOTR trilogy, from the 2nd hour, and also as a sort of “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” comment on the 1st hour.

      Again, well done.

  • MrNutso

    What?  Election day, and no discussion of the election?

    • brettearle

      I fully agree.

      What gives?

      We may all be suffering from politics-overload–but THIS IS NOT THE DAY FOR “ON POINT” TO PROVE THIS POINT!  

      • Gary Trees

        OnPoint be trollin’.  lulz.

    • LeonardNicodemo

       What else can they discuss? Yesterday was the “Election Eve” show. There’s no new info this morning except to talk about how long the lines are, and how all the ritzy politicians went out and voted like the rest of us.

    • adks12020

      There was a show on the election yesterday and I’m guessing there will be another tomorrow…when there are actual results to talk about. 

    • MrNutso

      My post was somewhat of a troll post, but seriously, after countless election show it’s a little surprising that Tom’s taking election day off.

    • Flytrap

       Tom said yesterday they weren’t going to do it today since they have done election issues ad nauseum forever.  Plus, today is for action, not talking.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I can’t be listening this morning, but my idea of trolling is probably not the one the show uses anyway.  I’ve been puzzling over Facebook pages that seem to be hosted for groups of apparently sexually available individuals, lately youngsters, from cultures I am very unfamiliar with:  Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Los Angeles.  Okay, maybe I know about LA.  The name of the group often is more disguise, and you have to look at the friends and do a bit of interpretation; and the page name may morph for purposes of anonymity, but I can’t tell whether I should consider these visiting sites are child sex slaves with time to spare, or whether the sites go visiting via the, um, hosts.  I do notice that in Muslim countries, sometimes women put that they are “interested in women” when they are obviously heterosexual, more or less saying:  don’t troll for babes here.  Sometimes I think the “interested in” is a place for bigots to “come out.”  But how about jihadis, in other languages?  Like a Free Syrian Army medic trained in the Ukraine, with a host of followers, latching on on Twitter?  Thank the cyberworld for being able to translate two languages at once.  That one I think is networking, promulgating videos of all sorts, to the max, but you can sometimes tell what he’s looking for.  China is a mystery to me, and Iran, except for Khameni, who apparently communicates, or at least listens, on behalf of all Persians (thanks maybe to sanctions?), but there is an awful lot of very creative trolling going on that represents the best efforts of humanity to pull together, against a human history of just the opposite.  For the heck of it, look up Kim Jong Un; he has “looking around” listening sites as if his other name were Radar.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      You’ve confused the verb “to troll” with the noun “troll,” especially as it is used in the context of online posting, which is obviously what today’s show is about. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      Actually, it just occurred to me that perhaps you were being ironic, since your post, with its rambling off-topic, and largely random subject matter and observations, comes very close to being a classic Internet troll post.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Discus is angry.

    :’(

  • JGC

    OMG! Am…am I a…TROLL?!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Tom Ashbrook, there’s a difference between criminal behavior and expressing an opinion contrary to the majority’s.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Trolls are much older than the internet – usenet, fidonet, bb’s. 
    Early trolling was more posting intentional falsehoods or positions with the goal of getting a rise out of posters – the bigger and more emotional the rise from responders, the better the troll.

  • itsnags

    Calling reddit the center of trolling on the internet just shows that whomever wrote the decription does not understand internet culture. It would be like saying the UN was to blame for all wars. 

    Im hoping the description was not trollbait…

  • Prairie_W

    Trolls are little people.  They use disrespect as a weapon. And since this is election day and our national politics are the air we breathe this morning, it’s as well to note that disrespect has been one of the two major parties’ defining characteristics.

    I still wonder at the urge of many to go beyond the polite RomneyRyan signs on their fences and lawns and feel the necessity of adding the larger, blazing “STOP OBAMA” signs.  This goes beyond the first amendment — it goes from free expression to yelling “Fire!” in a crowd with the hope of making trouble/getting some attention.

  • anamaria23

     I find the difficulty on this site that certain posters give contrarian views on most everything too often unsubstantiated, just to support their ideology.  The  conversation turns to mostly  responding to or correcting misinformation rather than a discussion of different points of view.

    • 1Brett1

      I couldn’t agree more or have said it better. Years ago, this site had more interesting conversation, and at times it did become quite heated, which is fine in the course of discussion. But, then, the proliferation of outrageous, unsubstantiated claims made by ideologues, over the last two years (who then bog down the discussion) with points that seem designed to provoke those making sincere comments, have made the discussion more difficult. As you say, we to either have to ignore or correct such disinformation and this diminishes the exchange of ideas. 

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Troll:  dragging a net to catch fish.

    Troll:  a frost giant or similar monster.

    The latter is a tie-in to the next hour.

    • Mike_Card

      What about, “troll we now our ancient carol?”  And we used to leave a baited line–not a net–in the water as we motored back to the dock.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        Right, and I go with the baited line as the primary usage, and certainly the one that applies to internet trolls.

        The anonymity of the internet fosters bad behavior. Since they don’t have to actually encounter the other person, wingnuts that are afraid to say boo in the real world become superheros. Alternatively, the internet is a lot like high school :)

        • DrewInGeorgia

          Ugh, High School…lol

      • ttajtt

        crap in the water and hand catch them.

  • PithHelmut

    This organism, the internet is new and like any new organism will organize itself naturally. Perhaps we will learn from its organisation and reflect it within our living communities. My guess is we have to identify the trolls to warn others but how it will all evolve remains to be seen. This should be a very interesting show.

  • Wahoo_wa

    I think Tom thinks anyone who does not agree with him is a troll.

    • StilllHere

      So many do.

  • Bradley Stewart

    we can’t control what people say but we can educate others as to what trolling is and how to spot it so that you can stick with the discussion and ignore those who choose to troll. people who “fall for” a troll are those who can’t tell that the person is trolling.

  • ToyYoda

    What about trolls as creators and propagators of conspiracy theory?  I have a friend who lost a ton of money betting on silver and gold mining stocks.  Instead of looking at himself and admitting that he was a fool to make such a blunder, instead he found internet literature that supports his what he wants to hear.  He believes that the US government is shorting mining stocks, that Osama Bin Laden’s announced death was a fake designed to send silver prices down, and that the Batman movie shooter was an investment bank whistle blower who was drugged to kill by men in black.

    Some of these concocted theories are propagated on websites like the ‘Golden Jackass’. People subscribe to these sites and pay a good deal of money.  Lots of them are gold bugs.  (But more like brain-bugged).

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Lesson to established news organizations:  Twitter isn’t confirmation.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    I think if the website was also responsible for the items that they post there would be much less bad behavior.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cvalentihein Charles Valenti-Hein

    I appreciate the distinction between “troll-ish-ness” and “trolls” but a core question for me is that there is something about this new form of communication that seems to bring out the “inner troll” in so many people.  The faux-intimacy of the web seems to allow people to say and do things in a cyber world they would not think of doing in the real one.

  • J__o__h__n

    I don’t post anything that I wouldn’t say in person. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

       yeah, I don’t believe that. sry

    • ttajtt

      freedom of speech? or freedom of words? i’ve said wrong words at a wrong time.  words ; speech or threat. 

      trolling

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Legislation?  Here comes the control freaks.

    • Mike_Card

      I can see it now, “A Law to Establish the Job-Creating Troll Control Patrol.”

  • All_i_do_is_lunk

    Most trolls are just idiots posting their stupid opinion and when people disagree they say “I was trolling”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    A troll, by definition, does not care about the position they are taking – they are trying to get people participating in a fake discussion/argument.  Stalkers and bullies are a whole different level.

    • ttajtt

      just like the news

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

        news is different – they are there to make money

        • ttajtt

          daze – dazzle – confuse – divide – chaos – baffled up to go.   

                         (winks – )   

  • OnpointListener

    Please discuss pedophiles who “troll” sites used by children, urge children to post photos and videos, some nude, some more innocent then photo-shopped later to appear nude.  These photos are then posted on pedophile sites for sharing.

    Very sick and very cruel.

    Unlike your guest’s statements, we do need legislation holding website owners criminally responsible for the content on their websites.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Griefing?  Haven’t you heard of grieving?  How about disparaging?  Insulting?  And so forth.

  • ToyYoda

    For the most part, if people take things lightly, and find humor in themselves, and didn’t hold their beliefs so sacredly, trolls wouldn’t exist.  In that sense, our reaction to trolling give us an opportunity to examine if we have hardened our beliefs, because after all, unless it’s mathematics, everything is pliant and subject to interpretation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Fann/40513724 Sarah Fann

      That’s true, but I think it’s not the person saying “oh man I’m being trolled” who need to take their beliefs less seriously. In “serious trolling” event (e.g. those involving threats of violence and rape) it’s usually the trolls who need to relax their convictions. 

      • ToyYoda

        Well, I’ve been using the internet back in the 80′s when the most common way to access the internet was through a computer that could not display any graphics and most couldn’t even display more than 40 characters across a screen.  The term troll has been around since the early 90′s when I encountered it.  This was still many years before the world wide web or even browsers.  Back then troll had a specific meaning which wikipedia seems to have captured quite nicely:

        In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[3] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[4] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[5] The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted.”

        The term seems to have morphed a great deal since then, but when I speak of trolls, I mostly speak in the original definition.  The “serious trolls”, as you put it, I wouldn’t even consider to be trolls, but something along the lines of criminals.  

        I wrote too soon when I said we should take things less seriously.  We should take things seriously, but lightly, and certainly with no attachments.  If we do that (at the risk of being a troll myself in your eyes), even “serious trolls” would not exist.  Why?  Well, that’s another thread for another site.

  • All_i_do_is_lunk

    Most trolls are just idiots posting their stupid opinion and when they are told how stupid their opinion is they say “I was just trolling”.

  • Laurie Gorham

    I had a “friend” on Facebook start posting snarky conservative comments to my very liberal progressive posts. The first time he did it I removed the comment and told him i didn’t want such comments. He responded he was just trying to start a “dialogue.” I wrote back that my Facebook posts weren’t the place for that, my FB posts were for me and my friends to enjoy and that there were lots of places he could go on the internet to have dialogues.

    The second time he did I blocked him. Yay Facebook!

  • Thinking_in_Boston

    Probably my worst trolling experience was some years ago when I was on a well known online “baby” destination site in a forum with other women who had, like me, had to terminate a pregnancy due to medical issues.  None of us were on that site because we wanted to end the pregnancy or took it lightly.  However, we were swarmed by right wing fundamentalists telling us what horrible people we were, etc. etc., we were going to hell, etc.  NOT HELPFUL. Some people had their real emails listed and were hounded personally.  The site after that locked down the forums to members only.  The trolling ruined what had been a close knit community intended for healing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H5FOBERS3GDRZAZ4L6UXO4XSWQ DanW

    You can’t have much of a discussion without some level of agreement about background information and ideas.  If you want to discuss geopolitics, you have to accept (at least for the sake of discussion) that the earth is round.  If you want to discuss whether the earth is round or flat, you have to accept (at least for the sake of discussion) that there is such a thing as the earth.

    Trolling is dragging some bait along, not for the sake of what the troll allegedly believes but for the sake of getting a reaction.

    Trolling is not online stalking, online bulling, or griefing in an online game.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

    lame topic and Idea. People need a thicker skin. If you don’t want to be offended them don’t read it. Don’t react to it! and don’t care so much about some stupid words on a screen!

    If you think I am wrong then you are a fat stupid ugly person.

    and if you were offended by what I just, you should just get over it because I was not talking about anybody really at all..

    • ttajtt

      key wording? have a plan

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

         are you asking if I had a plan or if my plan failed?

        • MarcusXH

          Jay D wants to be a troll on wbur.org

          LOL

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

             well yes and no, more just trying to make a point, on , On point lol

        • ttajtt

          ya !

  • nj_v2

    Are paid government or corporate shills considered “trolls”?

    I’m guessing that extent of paid disinformation dissemination on the Interwebs in much wider than commonly realized.

    Easy to fit lots of stories like this:

    http://www.sott.net/article/252272-Pay-for-Comments-Confessions-of-a-paid-disinformation-internet-shill

    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread738780/pg1

    • Ellen Dibble

      Maybe the $6 billion campaign money could be considered trolling.  Truthiness is not its high point.  And anonymity is guaranteed if a sponsoring organization can get itself defined a certain way.  Paid trolling, it keeps capitalism rolling.  At least it’s time-limited.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/22OUQASDUD2LEFDEVSBJBM2VRY gary

    Ms. Phillips should not be on this show!!

    • ToyYoda

      Seriously.  This guest cannot not extrapolate from her own research to speculate on the issue at large in a field that she is studying!!  Unbelievable.  How can anyone with such a mind do any sort of original research?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Fann/40513724 Sarah Fann

        I was more disappointed in the moderator. He effectively shut Ms. Phillips down early on by refusing to establish a definition of “troll” for the conversation. 
        For example “Trolls are dangerous. Right or wrong?” Well — you can’t answer that question without first defining troll or troll types. Is the person who spams NPR forums with — fight the liberal media defeat Barack Obummer! — dangerous? Most would agree not. On the flip side, the trolls who targeted Anita Sarkessian with rape and death threats were dangerous. The point — in my opinion you can’t have effective dialogue about trolls without first defining troll and troll groups. 

        • ToyYoda

          Yes, it would be good to have a definition of what troll is, but I doubt if it would have made the show’s dialogue more effective, because it is clear that everyone has their own definition of troll.  The term covers too broad a spectrum that and the dialogue would have digressed into pedantic nitpicking.  

          But you do have a  very good point (see my other reply to your reply.).

          Still, the guest had plenty of chances to go over what she means or present a zoology of troll definitions in subsequent questions.  She didn’t do that, I thought her viewpoint was rigid.  She should have realized that her definition may not capture the broader definition of what many people think a troll is; a more open minded researcher would have realized this as an opportunity for direct engagement, instead of becoming insular (which I felt that she did.)

    • MarcusXH

       I agree – she’s not adding to the conversation.  She seems to be scared of having an opinion.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Criticizing his atheism is legitimate, but making threats against his person is not.  See the difference?

    • J__o__h__n

      Too many people don’t.  Almost all gods don’t. 

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         The Greek gods don’t require you to believe in them, but don’t go peeking at Artemis when she’s taking a bath.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VCZ6YOEX4P7YG2MEYBW43IZC6U Tom

    The call from Alabama atheist was great! I live in this backwards state, too, and the average IQ in this state is indeed in double digits. The uneducated populace of Alabama is legendary. And many are indeed trolls.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    “Troll” has obviously become a bucket word – and as such, like so many words, has become largely meaningless.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Equal, Fair, Humanitarian, and Liberal are keeping “Troll” company.

  • TinaWrites

    If Romney is elected, we will have a Liar Troll in Chief.

    (statement based on actual lies he has told about President Obama alone)

    • StilllHere

      Nice trolling.

  • ttajtt

    heard if someone hacked in my box.  it would be ok if no crime happened.   free enterpri$e its great. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P2SCWXL6RJYXFEQ7BMX22VLQOA Jack

    People are rude to each other all the time online and off but can we seriously consider legislation for bad manners.  How about growing up?  The argument against annonymity is just so institutions can have an excuse to monitor everyones online activity.  Think Facebook but with every move you make on the internet.  Then that information will be sold with none of the proceeds going to the user.  The first amendment covers this but I cannot believe how you are devoting airspace for this.  Grow up people, it is just random people on the internet.  If you still can’t handle it maybe you should seek therapy because the argument of someone commiting suicide from trolling is kinda weak and its obviuos there were underlying issues before hand (big lack of personal responsibility)  Don’t infringe my privacy because unstable people use the internet too.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

       hear hear!

  • captaincrackpot

    The truly concerning thing about trolling is that is unveils the slow move towards a baseness and mean-ness of the younger generation.  While some is veiled as humor, or as political movement……the general thread seems to be a true disregard for the feelings of others. The same mean-ness can be seen in the comedy and humor aimed at this group….like Daniel Tosh and others.  It is, yes sadly, in the human psyche, but that doesnt’ mean we have to legitimize it as having a positive aspect.

  • Jay_Kent

    I think it’s important not to confuse “trolling” with “being a jerk”. Trolling is a specific way of instigating an angry reaction from someone. For example, going to, say, a grammar blog and posting “Your all nerds”, intentionally misusing “your” instead of “you’re”. It’s a self-aware method of garnering negative attention while maintaining plausible deniability.

  • Wahoo_wa

    Kinda sounds like Tom is losing sleep over this issue.  Is it really worth getting that emotionally involved?  It invites what Tom is reacting to.

  • J__o__h__n

    People are more annoying in real life where they are harder to ignore than just not reading their posts. 

  • OjosCriollos

    1. The only way to deal with “trolls” is to moderate the forum. Unmoderated forums are too easy for trolls to infiltrate, and they actually often target them.

    2. Trolling is now a “Cointelpro” tactic. Government counterintelligence, including the U.S. and Israel, have paid trolls who infiltrate many forums!

  • philip barry

    One of the first maxims from the Old-School forums of the internet :
            Don`t say anything to anyone..if you`re not prepared to say that same thing to them in-person.

         Anonymity breeds contempt in those uncivil souls with an Axe to grind..or who simply have never been taught to behave and think before they write..
            That being said there is nothing wrong with being contentiousness if a larger ,worthy issue is at stake and there`s plenty of contention to find
         Distinguishing between “avid contenders and trolls” and disrespect can some times be tricky for a while in a thread in a forum…but not for long..disrespect is the 1st sign of a troll.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    Trolls are like party crashers at a masquerade. They’re there to destroy the conviviality that most of us cultivate.

  • OjosCriollos

    1. The only way to deal with “trolls” is to moderate the forum.
    Unmoderated forums are too easy for trolls to infiltrate, and they
    actually often target them.

    2. Trolling is now a “Cointelpro”
    tactic. Government counterintelligence, including the U.S. and Israel,
    have paid trolls who infiltrate many forums!

  • http://www.facebook.com/casey.carbonneau Casey Carbonneau

    In Sioux culture, there was a society of people referred to as “Rotten Bellies.” Their entire roll in Sioux culture was to be contrarians, to voice unpopular opinions, to act out and say things and be distasteful. They were essentially Sioux Trolls.

    However, in Sioux culture they were viewed as indispensable. They believed that these Rotten Bellies kept the collective Sioux beliefs, mores, et al., from becoming stagnant.

    We need people to push the boundaries and question everything we believe to be accepted.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZKG7NEG53UKVK7OTIT7Y4VMBOM Jay D

       yes but a contrarian is not a troll. A true troll is not trying to be beneficial to society by “push the boundaries and question everything” they intend sole to get attention thru being mean.

  • MarcusXH

    Tom Ashbrook you’re feeding the trolls when you get upset!

    stahp!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.zagaeski Mark Zagaeski

    Tom, how do YOU deal with the equivalent of trolls on your radio show. Back in the day when I used to listen to AM talk radio there were habitual callers who would essentially say whatever they could to derail the conversation and/or  malign the host or guests. The host would sometimes recognize these voices and call them out, but I have never heard that sort of perverse negative-on-everything caller on your show.
    Mark Z

  • harrison2012a

    What about trolling as an online for of demonstrating against a product, or company that uses unsavory business practices? Often, many companies use online forums to peddle their products, as a tool of advertising. Is informing other users about a companies practices and true business strategies trolling if it’s done in good faith?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Discussants?  Zittrain has violated the English language continually this hour.

    • 1Brett1

      “Discussants” and “griefing” were two that really stuck out. 

      • J__o__h__n

        Good grieve.  I expect more from a discussant. 

      • hennorama

        “Discussant” is a bit formal, which one might expect from a Professor Of Law, and “griefing” is a Slanglish term that comes from the world of online gaming.  Again, one could expect someone who is “Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society” to know and use it.

        You can look ‘em up, as I did when I heard ‘em.

        Not that it was really needed, as both words are easily understood, especially in context.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    For the caller with the Personalized Atheist tag on his pick em’ up truck:
    I would have read your tag a completely different way. I would have thought that Alabama Football was your theology. Or that you were a Theist who loves Alabama. The third interpretation would have probably been atheist, though I’m having trouble picturing the atheist that’s rollin’ round in their pick up truck screamin’ “Hey! Look at ME everybody! I’m an Atheist!”.

    Wait a minute! Aren’t you trolling?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-O/15725539 Mark O

    as i see it the purpose and motivation of ‘trolling’ is to peel back the thin veneer of polite society, and show to the world just how easily we are provoked into anger.
    with the way our culture has been sanitized by political correctness in the public sphere, it is refreshing to show how viciously and dramatically we react to inflammatory opinions. to me it speaks to the inconsistency within ourselves that we put up these social barriers to shield ourselves from those with whom we disagree. yet blame the troll for eliciting a response within oneself.

  • OjosCriollos

    Thank you, Jonathan Zittrain, for picking up on my comment. Activists are attacked by paid government and *corporate* trolls, as you mention. BP, for example has an army of trolls attacking Gulf Coast activists on Facebook, and have caused a lot of personal grief. Thank you for addressing this subject!

  • TyroneJ

    I found this discussion very disappointing. The elephant in the room which they went to great pains to avoid addressing was censorship. The very act of labeling some speech as trolling is the act of labeling it inappropriate, which implies “it should not have been said”, and as such, is inexorably intertwined with censorship of that speech.

    • hennorama

      I agree completely as to the concept of censorship, but parodoxically, we must also be free to label trolls as trolls, lest we be censored.

      I also found the discussion of potential legislation to be distasteful in the extreme.  Words can be harmful, but one need not listen to or read them.  Freedom of speech is essential, and to retain it we need to suffer fools, and trolls as well.

  • hennorama

    Forget the trolls.  Go vote, and help anyone who needs help getting to the polls.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VZK25KM4GNLNLR72V3CC7TF6RE Throw

    Trolling as a whole is not a problem. Of course, some trolling is. But attacking those specific trolls is like saying conversation is a problem because there are individuals who say hateful things. The truth of the matter is that trolling is one of the main methods of communication online. It allows for certain types sardonic comments not possible in any other way. The internet is not simply a reflection of life. It is a very different community altogether and one of the things that not only makes it fun, but also shapes it into the revolutionary cooking pot it is is this ability to provoke. When it comes down to it, the ability to casually troll is simply freedom of speech.

  • teddyhopper

    :::anonymously trolls comment section:::
    umad?

  • ttajtt

    i’m done heckling. 

  • 1Brett1

    Within the context of this forum, “troll” is a person I define as an anonymous newcomer whose ostensible intention is not to engage in discussion but to enflame a whole array of other commenters, or to provoke for the sake of provoking. My opinion is subjective, however. 

    The usual suspects, as it were, are not necessarily trolls; they may be provocateurs or engage in trolling or toll-like behavior, but they are not trolls, by virtue of the fact that we all know them and their habits.

    I’ll admit that I am put off by someone who suddenly appears on this forum for the first time and says something like, “it’s a fact that Obama is a Communist and secret KGB spy.” And when you reply with something like, “that’s ludicrous,” he/she either completely ignores this and makes another equally absurd comment or calls you rude and begins a diatribe about how uncivil the world has become because people can not offer their opinion, or says you didn’t answer any of his/her questions when he/she didn’t ask any…

    I would never go over to a FoxNews blog, use a pseudonym and dive-bomb into calling Romney the antichrist who is formulating a plan to turn over all American corporations to Chinese businessmen and will force all Americans into Mormonism. The only point to that would be to provoke people for the sake of provoking people; it wouldn’t be to prompt discussion or to call anyone out, or to expose anybody or anything, but this is what some of the neocons do on this forum, claiming, “my right” or “I’m just offering an opinion.” Yeah, it’s your right, and you are offering an opinion, but your intent is NOT simply to offer an opinion.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      You’re right. As in real fishing, the Troll is fishing for responses. He/she gets off when you make a serious response to the bait. It’s even better if you are offended or outraged. It’s different from making a serious but completely wrong argument, like one based on voodoo economics. 

      OT: my wife is booking a hotel for a convention and she couldn’t see one room because it was being used for storage for “Nasty Ken doll” Brown’s victory party. She said it was a small room and we laughed, “Ken” won’t be needing much tonight.

      ps that is a mild Troll :)

    • hedgehogdanced

      You make the point I was about to post myself that points out a dangerous fallacy in many recent outcries and subsequent online etiquette changes when the subject of the internet “troll” comes up.

      The term, like any other term referring to a group of people sharing like behavior, agendas, etc. is not subjective beyond semantics. The ‘troll’ is widely defined by regular online users as an individual who assumes an anonymous identity on/in any available conversation-style forum and post inflammatory, outrageously offensive, and quite often flagrantly unrelated comments with the intent to disrupt the flow of dialogue and rile up other posters. They have been a prevalent, acknowledged part of the virtual forum lexicon for years. 

      A troll is identified by various characteristic behaviors: after their initial post they will systematically respond only with further offensive personal attacks and purposefully refuse to “argue with logic” about whatever topic responders try to focus on, often employ bigoted slurs, ultra-violent suggestions, and belligerent text format (broken spelling, caps lock, etc) even if the context is senseless, and they will suddenly just cease and disappear once they have had their fun.

      I said that it’s dangerous to let the term go undefined and I mean it: there has been a steady over-use of the term to include bullies (who have similar things to say but are serious about hurting the people they target, and will pursue other individuals doggedly), ill-tempered individuals who may use harsh language to engage arguments (who have strong feelings on one side of specific debate topics included in the forum), and various other mild-to-explosive temperaments vitally differing from trolls by being invested in some facet of the conversation/participants/etc.

      The danger is that, on an increasing majority of forums (randomly search for a few and comb the posts to test) as soon as one person posts sentiments that may be angry, hateful, or may just be in opposition to those of the site’s majority, calls of “TROLL” plaster them into social deadlock. They are either taunted, derided, or instantly dismissed because most folks accept cold denouncement to equally hateful replies to assumed trolls due to the original understanding of what a troll does.

      This accepted response can dismiss a deeper threat from a persistent bully/stalker and allow their continued attacks. It sets back the progress that society needs to continue to make–in rebuilding communication structure/etiquette in a vastly growing arena–by cultivating distrust, hair-trigger antagonism, and truncating the potential of vital sharing of differing ideas instead of promoting conflict skills to phase out belligerent rhetoric in favor of understanding discourse.

      Trolls are an inexplicably chaotic phenomenon, to be sure, and in some large-scale cases very devastating. But (I really believe) the potential for equal or exceeding harm can be done by painting people with vastly different agendas with the same brush.

        

  • 1Brett1

    Having reasonable forum moderation, something this site used to have, can go a long way. Of course, now, there is virtually no moderation beyond a software “brain,” and look where that has gotten us!

  • Eden M. Kennedy

    One particular type of troll that I’ve run into since I started blogging in 2001 is the mommyblogger troll.  It’s typically a woman who goes on another woman’s site to shame her for sharing her honest frustrations with motherhood. The troll tries to make the blogger feel like a terrible mother for not loving every minute of her stay-at-home life, or tells her that she’s ruining her child’s life by discussing him or her openly on the internet. These people really get off on planting fear and anonymous shaming, and many justify it by saying they’re doing it “to protect the children.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Negronado Metatron Singletary

    I feel as though the discussion was not as balanced as it could have been. Though professional and with some research done, it feels as though the expert were driving through data without a lot of immersion or historical context. This has been going on for a long time, and I think cyber bullying is too much a part of the troll blanket.

    They will of course be irrational people who will cover their ears and call it the same thing out of anger and uninitiated lack of knowledge and scale, but I think people need to realize that you can’t take this discussion seriously if you take it seriously.  

    Cyberbullying and trolling aren’t fighting mutually exclusive, but they don’t always go hand in hand.  I wish my call would have been taken, we could have discussed Furcadia and Gaiaonline. Not just 4chan and SomethingAweful.

    Trolling can cover many points.  They could be idiots derailing the discussion, they could be pranksters, but in many cases they’re no different than satirical comedians pointing out the logical failures of others.  

    And, of course, some people don’t “get it”, and meet their snubbing with wails and whines.  It’s nothing new or separate from real life.  If you have ever been sarcastic, or let a joke go on for a while, you have trolled. Congratulations.Socially heckling without hiding my identity since 1997.

  • SamEw

    Disappointed Armond White didn’t come on as a guest.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    FWIW. The most vicious internet sniping and trolling was in the Mac vs PC arguments in the 90s. Puts the most rabid TeaOpper in the shade :)

  • Anonymous314159265358979323

    I was a member of a discussion group for a major technology corporation’s stock and was stalked by a Troll.  It started with him emailing deragatory comments about my personal web site to me and ended with the Troll stealing copyrighted material and my identity then attacking others with graphic descriptions of how he (pretending to be me) would rape and torture their wife, children, etc.  He kept this up for more than eight hours until someone remarked “If I knew where you lived I’d kill you.”  The Troll then published my name and address with the line “Come and get me.”

    In cases like this the police are no help in finding out whether this is a serious threat or not (in my state computer crimes have to involve the loss of money to warrent police investigation).  I filed suit and discovered the Troll was a mentally ill individual from the Chicago area who had been cyber-stalking for more than a year using multiple logins to conceal his activities.  Based on his obsessive behavior I believe the Troll’s intent was to have me physically harmed and I was able to put a stop to his behavior only when he started posting threats to my attorney on the discussion group.

    If “Character” is what your are when no one will find out, what does that say about Trolls.  Trolls are not harmless individuals using their freedom of expression, who happen to offend others, they are usually sociopaths in training, often encouraged by the uncivil discourse seen in much of today’s media, who are actively seeking to harm others either mentally (if they have no other means) or physically (or by proxy through others because they think they can’t be traced or charged).  There is one Chicago Troll who learned differently.

  • Pingback: NPR’s On Point Radio Program, On Trolling « a sandwich, with words???

  • hoselayer

    Maybe we should stop taking the internet so serious. I understand that the effects of what happen on-line can go beyond the computer or virtual realm, but at some point it needs to be remembered that the internet is entertainment. I go to a website made for trolling called emails from an asshole. Funniest thing i have ever seen and it is trolling at its heart. I dont take it serious and dont because i know its the internet.  

    • Dana85

      Right. This can be dialed back to being a non-issue by understanding and applying the following principles:
      1. Offense is taken not given.
      2.The troll identifies and indicts him(herself) by the absence of quality and/or veracity in his(her) discourse. And can then simply be ignored.
      3. If it verges into the violent or criminal then it is called crime and has to dealt with the way crime is dealt with.

      • hoselayer

        I think you agreed with me but I also wanted to clarify that when the line between trolling or badgering someone goes into harassment and/or threatening motives then it should definently be taken serious. Dealing with a** holes is unfortunantly part of life. Being threatened isnt and shouldnt be. 

  • Gregg Smith

    I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a drink soon. I just wish I knew if I was celebrating or downing my sorrows. So far everything is going according to the script. VA and Ohio are making me nervous. I am also a little surprised that NC hasn’t been called yet. Watching the screen crawls is maddening. VA shows Romney with a huge lead but, as of now, only 18% of the votes have been counted. I know for sure the numbers early on lie.  

    • JGC

      We’re watching the PBS station out of Vermont here in Canada, and our drinks of choice are St.-Ambroise beer and red wine (screw cap).   Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are not revealing too much to me yet.  

      • Gregg Smith

        I guess the prognosticators were right about one thing, it’s tight. At this point, I’m feeling better about Ohio and Va but am worried about FL, although Mitt has now pulled even. And what about NC? Ugh. 

        • JGC

          I don’t understand your distress over NC. Isn’t it heading toward the Romney column?

          • Gregg Smith

            Yes it is, but it’s tighter that I expected. I thought it would be called by now.

          • JGC

            Wow, I’m watching again and I can’t believe how close it is, and with 95% of North Carolinians being reported.

  • Gregg Smith

    Pat McCrory has just won the NC governors race. He was a good mayor in Charlotte. So was Richard Vinroot but he could not win the governorship in more than one try. We haven’t had a Republican Governor in quite a while.

    Congrats to all you Bostoners, Obama won MA. And he won Vermont, congrats to Ray and the rest up there. 

  • Mike_Card

    Indiana goes to Romney; is anyone hearing about Mourdock?

    • Gregg Smith

      The last I heard he was under performing.

      • Gregg Smith

        Mourdock just lost.

        • Mike_Card

          Sounds like Akin is going down the drain, too.

          • Gregg Smith

            Really? The last I saw he was ahead. It surprised me but that was a while ago. Republicans have won the House but I don’t see how they take the Senate.

          • Mike_Card

            AP hasn’t yet awarded to McCaskill, but says she’s leading; polls closed more than an hour ago.

          • Gregg Smith

            Fox called it for McCaskill.

    • JGC

      Mourdock is  well behind Donnelly;  and in PA , Democrat Casey has been called over Republican Tom Smith.  Smith and Mourdock are both cut from the same piece of social conservative cloth.  There has to be a message here for legislators to stay out of our pants.

  • Gregg Smith

    PA just went Obama but I never believed the hype, I’m not surprised. Florida is still tied and if it’s within 1 point there will be an automatic recount. Terrific. The panhandle is in a different time zone and is typically more conservative. Those late votes could put Romney over the top… or not.

    • Gregg Smith

      Now I’m hearing the margin has to be within half a point to trigger an automatic recount in FL.

  • Gregg Smith

    I thought Romney would win Wisconsin because of Ryan… but no. It’s all about VA, FL, and Ohio. 

  • hennorama

    Whoever wins, remember – the sun will come up tomorrow, and the world will not end.

    Best wishes to all, and may the best person win!

  • Gregg Smith

    Dick Morris is claiming PA and Wisconsin were called too soon. I don’t know about that. Romney needs to hang on to VA, NC, FL and Ohio. Indications are he will but…

    • Mike_Card

      AP has awarded PA, but is leaving WI open, as yet.

      • Gregg Smith

        Fox called Wisconsin for Obama an hour ago. Maybe Morris has a point.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN
    I am so happy!

    I said from the beginning that ex-sen brown was self-destructing his nice guy image with his nasty, sneering campaign and I was right. The Native American thing for months, responding to the question about student loan debt with cracks about her salary, calling her “professor” as a sneer, saying the real asbestos victims in her ads were paid actors…what moron was running this campaign? You can’t pass yourself as a nice guy while acting like a high school smartass. But whoever made this bad decision, I’m very grateful to him/her.

  • hennorama

    Is it me, or are the Fox News talking heads conceding a Romney defeat, and working out the reasons for his loss?

    • Gregg Smith

      I don’t get that, just a sober assessment as usual. I hate conventional wisdom and am not impressed with it’s record. However, this time it seems to be right. I was hoping a few surprises would portend the results but it didn’t happen. Conventional wisdom has always said Ohio, FL and VA were key and that seems to be true. It also held that it would be razor thin margins and that’s seems to be true as well. So far there have been no surprises on either side that I see. As of this second it’s 163 to 163 in the electoral college.

    • Mike_Card

      The WBUR guy just made the same observation; he’s in the Romney HQ, where they have giant screen of Fox.

    • JGC

      (Just an aside, but in Canada there is no access to Fox News.  We can purchase the network and cable channels for CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, even Al Jazeera and of course that most radical of all channels: CBC).

  • Gregg Smith

    Rove just made a pretty good case for Ohio. Most of the uncounted votes in Florida are from conservative districts but it’s tight as hell. I’m feeling much better about NC and VA but who knows.

    • Michiganjf

      Keep listening to Faux News!

      They’ve failed you yet again with EXACTLY BACKWARD facts!

      Tune into CNN and MSNBC for some REALITY!

      • Gregg Smith

        I’m surfing them all and I have my laptop in my lap.

        • JGC

          Hmmm…maybe you are the most fair and balanced of us all….

    • Gregg Smith

      Dick Morris is also pointing to good signs for Romney in Ohio and Florida. He’s saying it will come down to Colorado. I’m still queasy.

      • Michiganjf

        Yup, the exact DICK who claimed Romney would clean up with pretty much every swing state and well over 300 electoral votes… AND YOU’RE STILL LISTENING???!!!

        • Gregg Smith

          I have six tabs open on my laptop. Morris is but one.

  • Michiganjf

    YEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

    OBAMA AND THE SENATE!!!!!

    It looks like NATE SILVER”S map will be accurate right across the board, YET AGAIN!!

    Too bad about the House, but America will BURY Boehner and the Teabaggers if they continue to obstruct absolutely EVERYTHING America needs for another four years!!

    Start writing the last Republicans’ epitaphs!

    So long “Worried” and cohorts!

  • Michiganjf

    WooHoo~!

  • hoselayer

    please stop trolling the troll chat with political stuffs

    • Gregg Smith

      That’s a no go.

  • Michiganjf

    THE DEMS are DESTROYING Republicans in the Senate races!!!

  • hennorama

    Looking forward to Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert live at 11:00 & 11:30 PM Eastern. respectively.
     
    Glad to see at least 2 of Colbert’s “Team Rape” members – Mourdock & Akin, going down in flames.

    Pathway for Romney is about to narrow significantly when CA OR WA HI ID close.

  • Gregg Smith

    NC goes Romney… finally.

    • Steve__T

       I wonder when Romney is going to give his defeat speech.

  • JGC

    We’re just switching over to the Comedy Network for the real news…Mitt Romney is the projected winner for “most of the Confederacy.”

    • Michiganjf

      Watching… Love it!

      • JGC

        OMG they are projecting the 2016 Presidential election already!

  • Thinking_in_Boston

    I love how we’re using this trolling segment to discuss the election results instead…sure hope Bob had a nap today!

  • hennorama

    NBC projects Obama wins Ohio, and now has 274 EC votes.

    • Gregg Smith

      Fox did too, others haven’t. I think it’s 264 but it’s still ball game. Congrats.

      • Steve__T

         Game over my friend.

  • Steve__T

    President Obama and a dem senate and congress Uuh Ohh look the H out. I am missing someone where is WorriedfortheCountry?
    he dosent have to worry for four more years.

  • Michiganjf

    Joe Walsh gone too!!

    Lots of the most annoying Republicans will be OUT!!

    Holding out hope for Bachmann going down!

    Also glad to see George Allen LOST!!!!

  • hennorama

    It’s over.  Champagne uncorked.  Fox News now questioning “Is this a mandate for Obama?”
     
    Fox now calls it. CNN calls it.

  • Gregg Smith

    Romney is not conceding Ohio. 74% of the vote is in and Obama is up 991. I don’t know. I’m not sure it makes a difference.

  • Steve__T

    Kinda fell sorry for the folks at Romney HQ they look so sad just sitting there in their seats quietly.

    • Steve__T

      They just got up and started walking out, food uneaten but the band plays on.

  • Steve__T

    liz Warren takes it Scot Brown is out

  • hennorama

    Easiest way to see why Mr. Romney lost – look at the people at his campaign HQ to see if you can find even ONE non-white face.

    Republicans have a LOT of soul-searching to do, starting now.

    • Gregg Smith

      That’s sick.

      • Steve__T

         Yes it is but not because she said it, but because its true.

      • hennorama

        Gregg it’s simply a fact – the Republican vote is almost 90% white. The demographics of the country are going against them, and they need to face those facts.

        • Derick_Mickles

          Like it’s sick that over 90% of Black Americans voted for Obama just because he’s part black. That’s racist as hell! Blacks are racists as well as anyone else, and most average Black people will tell you straight up that it’s true. Racism is an extention of tribalism and all human beings are hardwired for it to one degree or another. 

  • Michiganjf

    Looks like President Obama will end up with 332 electoral votes!!!

  • J__o__h__n

    Was Mona supposed to be on this show?

  • Jinshun Wang

    Whenever I see news reports on the internet community or electronic entertainment world, I cringe on the inside because most of the people talking don’t know diddlysquat what they’re talking about. Onpoint doesn’t seem to be an exception either.

  • Derick_Mickles

    I think a lot of authentic trolling is caused by a society that forces everyone to put on a “face of brass” to keep their jobs. You have to keep a job so you can eat in this country. You can be fired or ostracized for stating a belief that is not approved. 

    The lesson here is “You can’t force someone to think your way.” You can’t make someone like or be nice to someone else. You can force them to hide their thoughts and feelings. And when you do that, you are actively opting to have those people lash out revenge in any way they can. So in many ways Trolling has become the kettle whistle of the society. It’s the place where all those resentments that build up over being forced to hide your true self in order to survive surface. 

    We say we want the truth, but we truly can not handle it. I see this quite often on chat boards “I hate haters” or “Racists are the one people I have nothing but hate for.” Those are oxymoronic statements. If you hate anything, you feed it, and make it grow. 

    If society really does want to “grow up” then it’s going to have to take the good with the bad, and deal with things in an adult way. Which means, if someone at your job is a racist, sexist, or pervert, as long as they are not actively harming anyone, you’re going to have to not only let them say what they want to say, but try to convince them through kindness to change their ways. If we don’t do that, the trolling will continue, and if you put a stop to trolling, it will mutate into outright violence. 

    Choose which way you want it, but just because you might decide that you believe in all the modern ways of our society doesn’t mean others do, and since you have them over the barrel in regards to keeping themselves alive, they will always tell you to your face that they agree with you, then go troll on the internet. It’s tough being a grown up. Time to grow up America.

  • karenmsmith77

    I see a lot of people saying that Trolls shouldn’t be labeled that because we have free speach and shouldn’t be censored. However I think what makes a troll different is not that they are expressing themselves, but the way they choose to do so. For instance I help admin a body acceptance page mainly aimed at bbws on FB, and they get a lot of troling comments. No one has a problem with someone not being attracted to a type, but when you are rude and mean in expressing that then its unacceptable. Also why go out of your way to like a page about body acceptance to say that you don’t think it should be accepted. If your views are contrary to what a group is about, then don’t join. Express your opinion in your own group or on your own page. Its like going to someone elses house and telling them you hate their decor. Its pointless and immature.

  • Pingback: Crowdsourcing Democracy « schmitt and new media

  • Lana211

    I don’t understand these people, I don’t get the motivation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1304135193 Scott Frank

    I wish there were transcriptions. I’m listening through the whole show again to find one bit about social filters.

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