Category Archives: Trolls

New Media and Democracy: From Trolls to Bots
Date Created: January 20, 2013  Date Modified: January 20, 2013

As mentioned in my earlier New Media and Democracy posts, the conservative coalition have had no qualms about enlisting the help from their young supporters to muddy the waters of political discourse, well it seems they have stepped up their game and hired a coder to automate their trolling with the use of bots.

Tiphereth Gloria, social media expert with VML Australia, said the bot evidence presented in the Storify post appeared to be accurate and she believes it pointed to a Liberal Party campaign. The fake accounts appeared to be part of a “propaganda war” effort to “increase share of voice of anti-Labor sentiment”.

Separately, other spam bot accounts are more blatant. One suspected anti-Labor bot Twitter profile with over 88,000 tweets is @LaborDirt, which pumps out a constant stream of anti-Labor content. Anti-Gillard account @GI-Gillard has reportedly been retweeted by the same bots that retweeted Mr Hunt’s tweet.
Source: SMH

A Storify user calling themself The Geek has followed this a little closer than I have:

Update 1: Since publishing this story earlier, I have put together a growing list of LNP Bots here:
Also at last count 19 January 2013, there were about 40 genuine retweets out of 175 in total for this tweet. The Bots are tweeting via an app or platform called “The People’s Voice”. Has anyone heard of this? Contact me @geeksrulz on Twitter.
Update 2: I tweeted a link last night to my storify feature to @GregHuntMP for comment. No response so far.
Update 3: Since shining a light on this single tweet by Greg Hunt, the retweets have jumped to 192. They are by real LNP supporters who are possibly coming to Greg Hunt’s rescue to even up the ratio between spambots and real people.

Update 4: It appears that Twitter has finally acted and they have suspended the spambots that were identified. With friends like these, who needs enemies.

Update 5: Henk Luf is threatening to sue me for using his name in this feature. (Oops just did it again.) I have threatened to sue him back if he keeps using my name in his political tweets. Please go to the special Henk Luf section below if you can be bothered. See, spambots are missing out on all the fun that real people have 🙂
Update 6: Finally a response from Greg Hunt via @bennpackham. Greg Hunt says he hasn’t got the technical skills to pull off such a ruse. Fair point. I wonder how he managed to get his website up and running.

He goes on to point out further details of this troll, and even gives an example of another Conservative MP doing the same…

Can we make legaslative provisions to prevent this type of trolling? or will we just be making an over-regulated online media? I dont have a solution to this other that teach ethics in Computer Science 101.

[PAST] Old Media Trolling
Date Created: December 16, 2012  Date Modified: December 16, 2012

Purging out my email I noticed a few corrospondence that made me smile due to the supression of the incident(s) in my memory banks, currently giving me a chuckle is this from 2009, when I complained to the ABC’s Media Watch about a factual error being made on an ABC television programme:


I have been watching Mediawatch since its inception and I have noticed of late the focus seems to be focused on the ABC’s own reporters, this can only improve the ABC’s already excellent journalistic standards.

I feel then it is only appropriate that I draw your attention to an error reported today, the 17th of July 2009, on the ABC’s Playschool programme. The presenter was recounting a journey she took on Australia’s Highway 1, she mentioned a stop in Alice Springs—which is not on Australia’s Hwy 1. Could a correction please be aired to clear up any confusion to ABC viewers.

I would have like to have CC this to the Playschool email, but could not find it on there site, would you please be able to draw this to the attention of the Playschool Producers and Presenters on my behalf.

Thank you
B Levene

the response that followed:

Many thanks for your email. We appreciate tips from our viewers and look at all of them. One of our researchers will be in touch if we need any further information. Please be sure to keep us posted if you see anything else that you think should be on Media Watch

Kind Regards

Jo Puccini

Its your kids education

This rant was posted in Bad Taste, Communications, Media, Trolls, Video on by .

[PDF] Privacy and the internet: Australian attitudes towards privacy in the online environment
Date Created: May 2, 2012  Date Modified: May 2, 2012

Australian Policy Online released on Monday a document containing many statistics regarding Australian’s attitudes toward online privacy. Some key findings were:

  • 85% of online Australians believe data breach notification should be mandatory for business
  • Australians nominated identity theft (86%) and loss of financial data (83%) as their areas of greatest privacy concern.
  • The financial sector is most trusted on privacy (42%), followed by government and the eCommerce sectors
  • Social media is the least trusted industry on privacy (1%). In fact, 61% of respondents nominated the social media industry as having the worst privacy practices
  • Overall, women feel more secure than men online, and younger people (18-29 years old) feel more secure than older people (50+ years old)

I have yet to read the full text, so I will reserve any summation and/or analysis until I have.

The full PDF is available to download from the following URL:

Social Media or Social Engineering?
Date Created: October 3, 2011  Date Modified: January 21, 2013

I have previously posted before, our democratic freedoms are being circumvented online by an organised campaign against progressive ideals. This is no surprise to anyone who has been trolled out of online debates by neo-conservative posters zealously upholding the status quo.

So it should also be no surprise that this kind of Social Engineering is being utilized by corporate interests to manipulate the clean energy debate. As this report from The Montreal Gazette states:

The marketing has involved professional bloggers working for M THIRTY, a Toronto-based communications firm, who actively use social media websites such as Facebook or Twitter to simulate or kick-start online conversations with a consistent message promoting the views of their clients.

In the above instance it was stated the client was the Ontario Power Workers’ Union, however this type of faux user-generated content is available to any corporation or NGO who is willing to fit the bill. A price for opinion, so to speak.

The problem with this kind of assault of our freedom of expression is that it is a divide and conquer method to exponentiate any internal disputes within the groups where misinformation like this is posted. A reader of such a debate who is trying to learn the issues surrounding the topic is bombarded with this type of disinfo in such a way that they are unable to discern the truth from the marketing.

So how can the general public be expected to know the difference between a PR campaign and actual User-generated content? here are some of my thoughts:

  • Language:

    Marketing professionals use marketing language–such as “weasol words”, pejorative words and phrases to cause an emotive response with the reader. Logic is reason, not emotion.

  • Location:

    What are antagonists doing in the forum in question?, if they have a negative view of the topic in general, then why are they even concerned to join in the debate.

  • Finger-pointing:

    Who are these people blaming for the problem?. if there is a clear target of blame then is it congruent with the views of the forum which it is posted?.

  • Ganging up:

    Often it is more than one profile attacking a thread, look into those that are quick to support the questionable postee, are their views in line with those of the forum?.

there are other ways to tell an agent provocateur however one must remember that no checklist is fool-proof. There are a over a billion people on the web, and some of those people are idiots, trolls or even just ill-informed. But its good to know that the “shills” (as they say on conspiracy websites) do exist, and will try to manipulate your ideas.

Be forever vigilant. The internet is serious business.

New Media and Democracy: The Troll King
Date Created: September 19, 2011  Date Modified: September 22, 2011

In a follow-up to my post from earlier re: Political Trolls, last night the ABC’s Four Corners aired this piece on the climate change debate called “The Climate Wars”. I think the following quote from Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi really sums up the current political climate over new media:

I’ve always sought to build a movement, not an empire. I want as many, you know, like-minded groups out there advocating for what they think is important – not what Cory Bernardi thinks is important.

If they’ve got a good idea about a blog or you know an activism initiative that they want to pursue, if I’ve got the money and the resources to help them, I will do that.

Now, I don’t necessarily have to agree with everything they do or everything they say. I just want people to get out there and have a go.

The entire article is below (thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

So basically yes, the fascist dogs are manipulating the media to their own agenda, and its up to us to do something about it… then this morning the ABC aired a programme about Phone Phreaking and the early days of hacking–maybe the ABC is trying to manipulate me to go after these shites!. (BTW: the Sydney Morning Herald is a sharepoint driven site so dont even bother going after Andrew “Im a fuckwit” Bolt.

After all, it was those inflammatory remarks from right-wing retards which caused me to disable my Facebook.

New Media and Democracy: Political Trolls
Date Created: June 2, 2010  Date Modified: January 20, 2013

Most dont like to admit it, but we all have our political opinions. Its when a general election comes around that we tend to more vocal of said opinions, and a federal election is slowly approaching. People have expressed their view on politicians in numerous and sometimes hilarious ways, from the political cartoons that satire those in power, to having a one on one discussion with a friend or collegue. The advent of New Media had broadened our outlets of dissent (or compliance?).

This is a typical screen cap from the YLNP facebook page

Social Networking Sites are one such avenue. Using the example of Facebook; we can make a politicaly charged status update, join “groups” of people with similar convictions, engage in legitimate discussion, or even troll. As voters there is little restriction on what we can and can not say, as we are mearly exercising our opinion. Governments however, have restrictions imposed on what they can say to the media.

From Crikey

An example of restrictions on government announcments I would like to cite is “Caretaker Mode”. I wont divulge into detail, but basically means Ministers and their respective departments can NOT introduce or announce any new policy once the election has been called. There are also restrictions on political/campaign advertising, tho these are less stringent.

But where does the line get drawn?. Joe Citizen, of no political persuasion is entitled to voice his concerns regarding current political and social issues, and this is important to democracy so those on the campaign trail can hear the voices of their constituents, or would be voters. However there are citizens who have a political agenda, and who are Members of registered political parties. These party faithful have the same rights to express their opinions as those of the laity. In the old-media paradigm the party faithful are easily spotted: The double breasted suits of clean shaven conservatives are easy to differentiate from the Bearded, Che Guavara shit wearing Socialist Alliance–even without the visual aids, the language used by these groups is un-mistakable. We, the undecided Joe Citizen*, can tell what lies are told by whom.

Admition of Guilt: A member of the YLNP bragging that they are going to troll IRL the ABC television show Q&A

New Media presents us with some new issues. The ability to remain anonymous over the tubez is one such problem, without an identity how do we identify the lies we are told?. Another issue, which is related to the former is that of Trolling. A user has the ability to pretend to be someone else, and enter into an online political discourse of those whos views are dissimilar to that of their own and disrupt the dialog by inserting false, misleading or even defamatory comments with the intent to create political divisions between other users.

The Q&A programme mentioned in the above post(pic)

One only needs to look at the comments on the Facebook posts of Triple J’s radio programme Hack, to see the evidence of YLNP trolling. A traditionally left, youth orientated public broadcaster, would not be expected as an online hangout for Australia’s young conservatives, but the comments testify otherwise.

Not only are the posts misleading but they are often irrelevant and hinder any legitimate political discourse–not to mention the impact they could have on first time voters. If this trolling were limited to one or two disruptive individuals, it would have little to no effect on the discussion. However, it is obvious this is not the case, clearly this trolling is organised politicaly. On researching the profiles of the trollers it reveals that most of the white noise, political red-herrings and neo-con retoric comes from the mouths/keyboards of party faithful.

A member of YLNP boasting about his organisation of the trolling

As more people take up social media, one can only expect the more politically motivated trolling will occur. It follows then that the more trolls there are, the less REAL discussion there is on relevant political and social issues. Adapting or creating legislation to curb this trend may seem like a necessity, tho this action may indeed backfire, as how do we determine those that are political trolling, and who are just politically challenged.

I think its time we looked back at Voltare:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Voltaire, (Attributed); originated in “The Friends of Voltaire”, 1906, by S. G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)
French author, humanist, rationalist, & satirist (1694 – 1778)

but I think its time we modify it to this day and age:

I may not agree with your words but I will still listen and let you have your say, that does NOT mean I wont ridicule you for being an idiot.

It is important people have a voice–especialy a political one, so legislation is not the appropriate modus operandum. Better action would be to have the logical, moral and intellectual upper-hand, and let these idiots make their cries from the dress-circle because the rest of the audience are here for a show.

And it helps to “block” your profile from known trolls so they can not see your fluid, rational and well thought out argument…

* Im trying to be impartial, tho I can not hide the fact I am on the left of the political spectrum.