Know your CiF trolls 2Posted: September 11, 2011
The Sock Puppet and the Astro Turfer
While the modus operandi of these two cubelets are essentially similar, like trolling itself, the real difference is their motivation.
The Sock Puppet
The Sock Puppet usually will pop up to assist its master who is ether losing or has lost control of a troll attempt and as such has a very limited scope. Both the puppet and its master may regress to Common Troll state depending on how well the defence attempt goes, making them easier to spot.
How to spot them
For the Sock Puppet, look for certain patterns of behaviour –
- a fresh user account spawned within the life of the current argument/infiltration
- similar writing patterns and turns of phrase – someone pretending to be say a dog lover, who uses neologisms more usual for cat lovers for example.
The Astro Turfer
Decidedly more sinister than the Sock Puppet, the Astro Turfer’s main motivation is purely financial, he is being paid by proponents of the “cause” he is pushing and in pursuit of his brief will spawn multiple assets to initiate imitative communications deception on the targeted channel of inter-person verbal exchangistics. His overlord/paymaster could be a company, government spook enclave or even a military contractor.
How to spot them
The Astro Turfer given its nature, is much more sophisticated in covering its tracks however, look for a combination of
- user account and/or related data (homepage, twitter account, myspace account), created earlier but dormant until around the life cycle of the current argument/infiltration
- times of posting out of sync with the geographical location of the identity being used
- Neologisms and patterns of writing
- inability or unwillingness to dialogue deeply on anything but the point its pushing
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