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


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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