Hello and welcome to the first #NewsFromTheFunnyFarm where I will attempt to find out what is happening at the moment whilst making up composite swearwords like a proper flapthrusting pisshack.
So 2016 eh? What a barrel of laughs! That’s the topical stuff done. Anyhow never mind the endless death, mayhem and rise of far right bigotry. The thing that’s pissed me off the most about this anus horrible is how trolls have somehow managed to breed despite being defined as “Ugly cave dwelling creatures”.
Seconds after this photo was taken Terry the Troll called Gary Linekar a “Pooey panted Remoaner” on Twitter.
I mean of course social trolls (they don’t just live on the internet (they also shout abuse out of the windows of moving cars), although lets face it the conditions online are ideal for them as they also enable a speedy getaway) who will say whatever they want in order to poke, provoke and gleefully spread lies and slurs for shits and giggles. They especially like to bully minorities or the vulnerable as they’re less likely to get called out, risen above or found out and twatted.
Trolling is nothing new, as any connoisseur of teenage graffiti from any decade will attest. They very quickly came to play on internet forums (anywhere where you can create anonymous usernames and create or edit content) and social networking is a trolls dream. Some proper old school trolls made lairs on sites where they could compare their exploits writing abusive messages on facebook RIP groups or targeting liberal talkboards. We all kind of accepted their existence and fundamental patheticness and became adept at spotting even the more subtle attempts to troll. That’s why “Don’t Feed The Troll” is such an old meme.
Sticks and Stones may break our bones but someone calling us a libtard will just make us sigh and roll our eyes.
In 2016 these trolls have crawled out from their bridges and gone mainstream and legit. They have voted in troll politicians or for troll agendas. Oh come on, Trump is clearly a troll with his 3am Twitter badmouthing sessions and apparently ability to get away with saying stuff that most nice sensible people would at the least get a verbal warning and a trip to a diversity training course if they did it either in their workplace or public. Trump’s even got the stupid troll hair going on. Likewise Nigel Farage (with his tobacco stained troll-like face) trolled the British public with his xenophobic dog whistle “Breaking Point” posters showing swarms of (curiously brown skinned) migrants lining up to invade Britain should people vote to remain in the EU (the poster was actually taken of Syrian refugees fleeing war but a good Troll never minds about the truth).
Not everyone who voted for Trump or Brexit was a racist, but a fair proportion of them appear to have been trolling – and getting away with it. (I actually know people who voted Brexit “just to see what happened” – Trolls! ).What’s getting scary is just how much the news and search engines have been laced with fake troll news for trolls to share and wind up “Liberal Snowflakes” (Troll language rather sweetly tends towards the fantastic and fairystory – with swears thrown in).
The other day browsing the BBC Twitter feed, I saw a horrifying piece of news about a young woman kicked down the stairs in a subway station in Berlin. The video accompanying it is disturbing from the unaware victim to the apparent glee of the assailant and the lack of any concern from his cronies who watch the whole thing.
You’re damn right it contains “upsetting scenes” BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38297302
One thing it does not contain however is a clue to the origin of the assailant. The victim has her back to us and is wearing a hood (at first I wondered if it was mistaken for a hijab – then I realised it doesn’t matter – whatever the motive – this crime shows violent bullying misogyny in action and the people who took part in it are terrifying sociopaths.)
So I was curious as to why the BBC Tweet containing this article was jumped on by so many people insisting that the perpetrators were “Muslims” or “Immigrants”. I could find no reference to this on the news and many who claimed to have seen news sources did not cite them.
And more (if you really want to click on the BBC Tweet).
So why this proliferation of unsubstantiated claims? Some of the responders almost look like they could be spambots set up to blame immigrants and Muslims – but someone’s clearly made the effort to write out the allegations in response to this story and tweet it ad infinitum. Obviously for some proper racists it might be worth retweeting something that fits in with their world view. But it’s starting to look like a lot of people don’t really care whether something is true or not. Whether Trump is a saviour or a nightmare, whether Brexit is the answer or the path to doom. These people don’t give a flying monkey bollock, they just want an outraged response and they will keep posting to get it.
The problem is whereas the best way to troll a Troll or at least deal with them on a personal level was to block and ignore them, depriving them of the validation they crave; nowadays letting bullshit go unchallenged also supports the views of genuine hateful lunatics with Nazi agendas and doesn’t stop these lies causing genuine harm to minorities. And the trolls are even helping these people win the search engines when it comes to spreading false news.
I googled “Kicked Stairs Berlin ” this morning and even on the first page (last item) I found a piece blaming immigrants.
I searched again two hours later (yes I do need to get a life too) and the first page had even more links blaming migrants – those stories are getting higher up in the search results too.
If you share something enough it starts fitting Googles search algorithms more. Most people only look at the front page of google results, so the higher an article rises on the first page, the more likely it is to be consumed as “reality”. Even seeing the title could convince some searchers that there was a shred of truth. There must be – it’s page one on Google!
The first article blaming Migrants to appear in my search from “South Front” – which regardless of its agenda (and I am sure they are a lovely bunch of lads really) is known for publishing unvetted conspiracy theory articles.
The next Immigrant blaming result to appear comes from The Gateway pundit, a blog which appears to present people’s tweets as genuine evidence. Although at least it has the grace to use a question mark in brackets after the word “migrants” in its headline (“Horrifying Video! One of Merkel’s Migrants(?) Kicks Unsuspecting Woman Down Stairs at Metro”).
I wish I hadn’t clicked on either link now to be honest for fear of even further skewing the search results, but other than sighing and clutching at pearls what can one do to stop the Troll articles taking over? How can we balance media perceptions of outsiders in a post truth world when there’s often reason not to even trust everyday press sources?
We are all “journalists” (some less worth following than others) nowadays so maybe the only way to now out-troll the trolls is through spreading accurate stories. For every negative story attacking the vulnerable, for every lie blaming those who are thought of as “different” share accurate positive stories. For every lie without any evidence spread truth with evidence. And call out bullshit without getting stroppy or defensive (“there is absolutely no evidence for this so I call #bullshit”).
So when I see things like this
If there’s a credible enough source and quotes, I’m sharing it. It’s not enough as it needs to keep being shared (and that’s why the source has to at least be credible) and shared again to keep the story trending on Twitter and appearing on the first page of news sites or Google. If these sites won’t police the hatemongering crap people are using them to spread, then maybe we need to mix some love and positivity into the equation when we find it?
If 2016 was the year of the emerging Troll maybe 2017 could do with some Peace Spamming?
Anyhow must go off and Macrame a Yurt in my Metropolitan elite dreamland!*
*drink a can of lager in my terraced house in Essex. Us liberals are all the same!