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Tags internet incidents , internet issues , John Synott , madeleine mccann , manfromatlan , trolling

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Old 15th April 2017, 05:51 AM   #1
Vixen
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Online trolling: The case of Madeleine McCann - Is it a real phenomenon?

A study by psychologists headed by Dr John Synott identifying what they call the behaviour of 'on-line trolls' is published in the June 2017 edition, Pages 70–78, of 'Computers in Human Behavior'.

The 'highlights' are as follows:

Quote:
Highlights

Case study analysis of Anti-McCann internet Trolling Group.

The role of language, group identity and in group cohesion is examined.

Language is central to Anti-McCann group in the construction of identity.

Several strategies were employed by Anti-McCanns to provoke outsiders.

Support for previous research linking trolling to western media culture and ASPD.
The abstract is as follows:


Quote:
Abstract
Despite the sustained media attention surrounding internet trolling, academic studies investigating its occurrence are rare.

This study aimed to provide a case study analysis of the behaviours and strategies of a group of alleged Twitter trolls referred to as the anti-McCanns due to their continual abuse of Kate and Gerry McCann as well as those who support them and thus identify as pro-McCann.

The way in which language was used to construct the anti-McCanns group identity, enhance in-group cohesion and facilitate out-group disassociation from the pro-Mccann group was additionally explored, given that previous research has implicated group processes in the propagation of aggressive online conduct.

A multi-method approach involving a combination of ethnographic observations and the collection of online commentary was employed. The data was then analysed using quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis, which indicated that language was utilised in a variety of ways by the anti-McCanns to construct a salient group identity and negatively stereotype and disassociate from the pro-McCann group.

Findings additionally revealed that several strategies were employed by the anti-McCann trolls to provoke and derogate members of the pro-McCann group, supporting previous findings which have linked trolling to both western media culture and the characteristics of anti-social personality disorder. The implications of these findings both theoretical and practical are discussed, alongside recommendations for future research.

Keywords
Online trolling; Online abuse; Missing persons; Social media; Cyber psychology
Source and where the full paper can be ordered: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...47563217300614

A rebuttal has been written by manfromatlan here. He also sent a rebuttal to WASHINGTON POST who wrote an article surrounding this issue, highlighting the psychologists' apparent lack of professional ethics in how they carried out the research.

In addition he makes the following points:
[extract]

Quote:
The psychologists hid their tweets so their data couldn’t be verified but actively tried to locate individuals who wished to remain private. They deliberately provoked by quoting a bad ‘scientific’ report to get the response they wanted, and used other underhanded methods to prove their thesis. I was able to obtain copies of their work which shocked me.

Psychologists already have a bad reputation for writing papers supporting torture (enhanced interrogation), posing for the media, and attaching unfounded opinions about the psychology of celebrities, or even, Donald Trump. You simply can not use your credentials to diagnose a pathology without examining the individual. Diagnosis by tweet is bad enough, but their assessment didn’t even match up with the people I came to know.
The whole issue came up after the suicide of a so-called 'troll':

[extract]

Quote:
Brenda Leyland:

She was an English woman who made thousands of tweets discussing the case, none of which were abusive. (I know, I saw them). Complaints were made but the police found nothing wrong with them. Gerry McCann called “for an example to be made” so Brenda Leyland was confronted at her home by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News reporter Martin Brunt and her picture published on the front page of UK newspapers as “The Face Of A Troll”. Hounded by the media, this vulnerable woman committed suicide.

When confronted, the reporter Martin Brunt wouldn’t say who gave him the report filed with the police, then, “A group of ‘concerned’ internet users”. (The McCann group of not trolls).
ibid


What I would like to debate here, is not whether or not the McCanns were culpable, but rather, the wider implications of the study.

Edited by Darat:  Comments regarding moderation removed.


I am fascinated by the loaded assumptions of the psychologists concerned and their value-laden labels.

Is taking a different view from the mass media 'trolling', or is it healthy scepticism and genuine concern?


Did 'sweepyface' do anything to merit the label 'troll'?
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Last edited by Darat; 15th April 2017 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 15th April 2017, 06:02 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
A rebuttal has been written by manfromatlan here.
You mean the man who claims he is God? Think I'll skip it, thanks.
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Old 15th April 2017, 06:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
You mean the man who claims he is God? Think I'll skip it, thanks.
On the face of it this is a valuable thread and the issues in the opening post are well worth exploring.

Yet as you point out this new thread would need better sources!!
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Old 15th April 2017, 06:28 AM   #4
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Anti-McCanns and Pro-McCanns are both plumb crazy. Each spends more than one minute per year thinking about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Bill Williams View Post
On the face of it this is a valuable thread and the issues in the opening post are well worth exploring.

Yet as you point out this new thread would need better sources!!
You don't think Psychology in Computer Behaviour or the Washington Post or members of the American Psychological Society are 'important source's?


Do read the WASHINGTON POST article and come back to me.

Quote:
John Synnott, a senior lecturer in investigative psychology at the University of Huddersfield in Britain, has long been interested in the McCann trolling, ever since he first saw it at work in about 2012.

“It was somewhat organized, it was repetitive, but the volume of information was the real surprising thing.” Synnott told me in a Skype interview recently. To find it, all you do is navigate to the #McCann hashtag on Twitter. #McCann will be there, as if embedded into the platform.

What you’ll see: a steady stream of chatter from a tight-knit community with a common goal. In a new paper on the #McCann group, Synnott and his co-authors tried to shed some light on how this devoted, online trolling community works.
ibid


Surely, the only reason people are stil discussing the issue is because (a) Maddie remains 'missing', (b) the UK police are holding out that she is still alive and requesting sightings from around the world, and (c) nobody has ever been brought to justice; IOW it remains an open case.

Did the psychologists - Dr Synott is at a British psychological department at Huddersfield Uni - follow their own ethical code?

This is succintly summed up as follows (see comments section):

Quote:
This study is a violation of the British (BPS) and American (APA) psychologist association's code of ethics.
Psychology Research Ethics
Saul McLeod published 2007, updated 2015
- The purpose of these codes of conduct is to protect research participants, the reputation of psychology and psychologists themselves."
- Moral issues rarely yield a simple, unambiguous, right or wrong answer. It is therefore often a matter of judgement whether the research is justified or not. For example, it might be that a study causes psychological or physical discomfort to participants, maybe they suffer pain or perhaps even come to serious harm.
- Informed Consent
Whenever possible investigators should obtain the consent of participants.
- Debrief
After the research is over the participant should be able to discuss the procedure and the findings with the psychologist.
- Protection of Participants
Researchers must ensure that those taking part in research will not be caused distress. They must be protected from physical and mental harm. This means you must not embarrass, frighten, offend or harm participants.
- Deception
This is where participants are misled or wrongly informed about the aims of the research. Types of deception include (i) deliberate misleading, e.g. using confederates, staged manipulations in field settings, deceptive instructions; (ii) deception by omission, e.g., failure to disclose full information about the study, or creating ambiguity.

Note:
The post grad researcher set up a Twitter account, did not reveal their identity or purpose of the study, reveal their findings to those who responded, but simply deleted their account afterwards. - Naseer Ahmad
ibid


Should people stop discussing it? And if they continue, are they 'trolling'?

Edited by Darat:  Comments regarding other case removed.

How far is it 'trolling' to campaign for justice?
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Anti-McCanns and Pro-McCanns are both plumb crazy. Each spends more than one minute per year thinking about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Imagine you were Maddie MCann. If alive, you would want interest maintained in finding you. If dead - heaven forfend! - you would want the perpetrators brought to account, even if they turn out to be 'people in high places'.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:05 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Is taking a different view from the mass media 'trolling', or is it healthy scepticism and genuine concern?
Absolutely not trolling! At least not in and of itself.

Having an intellectually honest, truthful discussion with an honest attempt at getting the facts right, being willing to admit when you're wrong, changing your view when proven wrong -- this is all fine and if you start with a different view from the mass media (and science and the legal courts) no big deal. Heck, even if you REFUSE to change your mind when presented with irrefutable proof the other side is right, that still isn't trolling.

However, when a poster lies, tries to spread misinformation, posts antagonizing comments to try to disrupt discussion, presents themselves as a martyr, tries to get other people reprimanded and/or banned by the mods by baiting them (posting known falsehoods, subtle insults after being proven wrong, posting the *same thing* over and over and over again 100x over the course of almost a decade that has been refuted a hundred times over by actual published, scientific studies, etc), now THAT is trolling.

If you read some of these communities it is clear something is wrong. They don't get together to have legitimate discussion and get at the truth. They get together to attack and mob their target and their target's supporters. And they take it to the next level -- they try to target the victim's supporters in real life and there is at least one confirmed example of them trying to get the person fired from their job. They issue death threats to their target. No one in the community is opposed to any of this behavior.

So you have to understand when these kinds of people flood other forums (well, used to flood... not many of them left) under the guise of having an honest opinion that just so happens to differ from the mass media, and claim they are totally open to intellectual, honest discussion on the matter, people who are familiar with the situation are a bit skeptical. Then when they immediately start with the lies that have been disproven over and over again, it's pretty clear what is going on. They don't want discussion, they want attention. When other people get banned or reprimanded in some other way when they provoke and antagonize it makes them feel powerful that they have that kind of control. They don't come to forums, blogs, online articles, etc. to contribute to discussion and add value. They come to disrupt and create chaos. THAT is the *definition* of trolling.

So no, as to your original question, having a different opinion from the mass media is not trolling. How one goes about interacting with those who hold the opposing view determines whether it is trolling or not.

Side note: a huge red flag would be someone who is framing it as "mass media's" opinion, rather than the opinion of the legal courts and countless scientific publications on the matter. Empirical evidence and science based reasoning is considerably stronger than "mass media opinion". And if the individuals in question start saying the scientists were paid off by PR campaigns or Donald Trump (or whatever), well then you have a huge red flag for "trolling" rather than "just a different opinion, man".

Hope that helps clear up the distinction. Good thread though!

Last edited by NotEvenWrong; 15th April 2017 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Imagine you were Maddie MCann.
No.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:46 AM   #9
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I will disclose that I have never made any particular effort to hide my identity. I don't have any 'fake accounts', and whilst I don't approve of anonymity, generally, the use of avatars and 'usernames' is common sense on the internet. IMV it is bad manners to 'out' someone's identity simply because they take a different view on a matter than the 'outer'. I have been 'outed' by Amanda Knox fans when I was never closet anyway.

I don't have an opinion on the McCann case, as it has never been brought to trial.
Edited by Agatha:  Edited material pertaining to a different case

I have been a keen user of forums since circa 1997 when I joined a closed private group, of which I still participate, wherein we discuss absolutely everything under the sun, from the price of butter to the meaning of life. There have been spectacular flame wars along the way, more to do with personality clashes than 'trolling'. However, on the whole it is the simple debating of topics of interest.

I don't consider myself to be a troll of any sort. I have always been interested in what makes people tick, and my interest in the Kercher case - and in criminal law in general - is a natural progression of my choosing criminology as a second year optional paper in my psychology degree course, a few years ago now.

Edited by Agatha:  Edited material pertaining to a different case

So yes, some people are trolls, most are not.

The chap at Huddersfield Uni has fallen into the trap of believing anyone who is suspicious of the McCanns must somehow have a personality defect. It's reminiscent of Gulag Russia and the thought police.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I will disclose that I have never made any particular effort to hide my identity. I don't have any 'fake accounts', and whilst I don't approve of anonymity, generally, the use of avatars and 'usernames' is common sense on the internet. IMV it is bad manners to 'out' someone's identity simply because they take a different view on a matter than the 'outer'. I have been 'outed' by Amanda Knox fans when I was never closet anyway.

I don't have an opinion on the McCann case, as it has never been brought to trial.
Edited by Agatha:  Edited material pertaining to a different case


I have been a keen user of forums since circa 1997 when I joined a closed private group, of which I still participate, wherein we discuss absolutely everything under the sun, from the price of butter to the meaning of life. There have been spectacular flame wars along the way, more to do with personality clashes than 'trolling'. However, on the whole it is the simple debating of topics of interest.

I don't consider myself to be a troll of any sort. I have always been interested in what makes people tick, and my interest in the Kercher case - and in criminal law in general - is a natural progression of my choosing criminology as a second year optional paper in my psychology degree course, a few years ago now.

Edited by Agatha:  Edited material pertaining to a different case


So yes, some people are trolls, most are not.

The chap at Huddersfield Uni has fallen into the trap of believing anyone who is suspicious of the McCanns must somehow have a personality defect. It's reminiscent of Gulag Russia and the thought police.
Change a few particulars and this could be my own story.
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Old 15th April 2017, 07:59 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
If you read some of these communities it is clear something is wrong. They don't get together to have legitimate discussion and get at the truth. They get together to attack and mob their target and their target's supporters. And they take it to the next level -- they try to target the victim's supporters in real life and there is at least one confirmed example of them trying to get the person fired from their job. They issue death threats to their target. No one in the community is opposed to any of this behavior.
I have received calls at work answered by someone else.

But this one (highlighted) is not entirely true. On at least two occasions I have issued a public thanks to one of the leading proponents and web-administrators of "the other side" for moderating vile stuff in relation to me.

Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
So you have to understand when these kinds of people flood other forums (well, used to flood... not many of them left) under the guise of having an honest opinion that just so happens to differ from the mass media, and claim they are totally open to intellectual, honest discussion on the matter, people who are familiar with the situation are a bit skeptical. Then when they immediately start with the lies that have been disproven over and over again, it's pretty clear what is going on.
Even the use of the term, "I only have a differing opinion, and look what YOU do," is a manipulation. Truth be told, it's not a matter of having a different opinion - it's a matter of the baiting that goes on, mostly simply to disrupt than to inform.

Add to this the constant repetition of long-since debunked claims, repeated repostings as if it had never been debunked, and then to top it all off.....

...... when getting caught simply making stuff up, there comes a further dozen or so posts that make-up further stuff and include links which go nowhere.....

...... where the subject of trolling needs to at least be entertained.

Why? Because other explanations are far less assuring.
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:06 AM   #12
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It does seem desperately naïve to assume trolling is a one-way street.
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:21 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
A study by psychologists headed by Dr John Synott identifying what they call the behaviour of 'on-line trolls' is published in the June 2017 edition, Pages 70–78, of 'Computers in Human Behavior'.

The 'highlights' are as follows:



The abstract is as follows:




Source and where the full paper can be ordered: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...47563217300614

A rebuttal has been written by manfromatlan here. He also sent a rebuttal to WASHINGTON POST who wrote an article surrounding this issue, highlighting the psychologists' apparent lack of professional ethics in how they carried out the research.

In addition he makes the following points:
[extract]



The whole issue came up after the suicide of a so-called 'troll':

[extract]

ibid


What I would like to debate here, is not whether or not the McCanns were culpable, but rather, the wider implications of the study.

Somebody elsewhere on ISF called me 'sweepyface' (the twitter username of Brenda Leyland) simply because I had a different view than him of the Meredith Kercher case as to the guilt or otherwise of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. It was redacted.

Another forum user twice tried to bring up the subject, but within the wrong thread.

I am fascinated by the loaded assumptions of the psychologists concerned and their value-laden labels.

Is taking a different view from the mass media 'trolling', or is it healthy scepticism and genuine concern?


Did 'sweepyface' do anything to merit the label 'troll'?


Having read the paper, there are some comments that stand out.

Quote:
Similarly, in two online studies exploring the relationship between the dark triad of personality, sadism and trolling behaviour, throughout which a total of 1215 participants were accumulated, trolling behaviour was found to be positively correlated with sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism (Buckels, Trapnell & Paulhus, 2014). Of all three measures, sadism, commonly defined as the enjoyment of cruelty, was found to show the most robust associations with trolling, both in terms of enjoyment levels and the extent of which the individual identified as an internet troll, as measured using the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling (GAIT) (Buckels, Trapnell & Paulhus, 2014). This finding, coupled with the fact that sadism was unrelated to the enjoyment of other online activities such as chatting and debating, led them to conclude that cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.
Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Although trolling behaviour may be regarded as a 'joke' by some it is not harmless; it has been associated with suicide and is equivalent to cyberbullying. Although the moderators may allow trolling this is not a morally neutral stance. Allowing trolling is encouraging sadism and is morally reprehensible especially where there is an individual known subject of the sadism. In the Knox case some trolls have wished (possibly threatened) death on the victim of their trolling.

It is interesting that some individuals (posting elsewhere) have recognised their behaviour as matching that described in this paper, but rather than face their psychopathology would rather deny the science. Indeed this reflects where trolling intersects with the broader area of 'skepticism'. As Synnott et al say,

Quote:
In an apparent display of confirmation bias, the anti-McCann users continued to ignore any evidence presented which refuted or failed to align with their purported belief that the McCann’s were responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance, even proceeding to block those who were persistent in attempting to engage them in a cogent discussion of the facts.
This is behaviour that we can recognise in a broader group of conspiracy theorists, whether HIV denialists, ID proponents or those who believe the moon landings were faked. Indeed prominent 'guilters' who posted about the guilt of Knox in the past have espoused views of this type, Briars advocated ID, Macchiavlli referenced work from HIV denialists. As skeptics we recognise that humans rarely think logically, having decided on a view point a series of defence mechanisms come into play to defend that view point. Whether referencing the moon landings or the guilt of Knox or McCann the failure to acknowledge evidence contrary to their preconceived notions is something we can recognise.

Whilst most CT advocating for Apollo or 9/11 fakery do not have individual targets and are thus less personally harmful, this differs in the 'guilter' activity e.g. around McCann or Knox, there they have individuals who they deliberately seek to punish. Another exception might be anti-vaxxers, whilst they may have less of a personal target their behaviour can result in harm - see the recent measles outbreak in Europe that has resulted in child deaths.

Certainly one can argue that those broader CT posters lack the sadism that Synnott says characterises the 'guilters' in the McCann case as they lack an individual to attack. Certainly the obsessive posting by a number of individuals around the internet seems designed to hurt both Knox and those they perceive as her supporters, thus I think matches the behaviour described in this paper with regards to the McCann 'guilters'.

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Old 15th April 2017, 08:33 AM   #14
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Nevermind.

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Old 15th April 2017, 08:40 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
So yes, some people are trolls, most are not.
Vixen,
How do you determine which ones are trolls? Feel free to elaborate in detail.

I, for one, would consider someone who repeatedly posts deliberate, proven falsehoods a troll. Because if it is repeated and deliberate then it is clear they aren't there for discussion, but to antagonize. This is one criteria, IMO.

Do you agree or disagree with this?
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:42 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Having read the paper, there are some comments that stand out.


Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Although trolling behaviour may be regarded as a 'joke' by some it is not harmless; it has been associated with suicide and is equivalent to cyberbullying. Although the moderators may allow trolling this is not a morally neutral stance. Allowing trolling is encouraging sadism and is morally reprehensible especially where there is an individual known subject of the sadism. In the Knox case some trolls have wished (possibly threatened) death on the victim of their trolling.

It is interesting that some individuals (posting elsewhere) have recognised their behaviour as matching that described in this paper, but rather than face their psychopathology would rather deny the science. Indeed this reflects where trolling intersects with the broader area of 'skepticism'. As Synnott et al say,



This is behaviour that we can recognise in a broader group of conspiracy theorists, whether HIV denialists, ID proponents or those who believe the moon landings were faked. Indeed prominent 'guilters' who posted about the guilt of Knox in the past have espoused views of this type, Briars advocated ID, Macchiavlli referenced work from HIV denialists. As skeptics we recognise that humans rarely think logically, having decided on a view point a series of defence mechanisms come into play to defend that view point. Whether referencing the moon landings or the guilt of Knox or McCann the failure to acknowledge evidence contrary to their preconceived notions is something we can recognise.

Whilst most CT advocating for Apollo or 9/11 fakery do not have individual targets and are thus less personally harmful, this differs in the 'guilter' activity e.g. around McCann or Knox, there they have individuals who they deliberately seek to punish. Another exception might be anti-vaxxers, whilst they may have less of a personal target their behaviour can result in harm - see the recent measles outbreak in Europe that has resulted in child deaths.

Certainly one can argue that those broader CT posters lack the sadism that Synnott says characterises the 'guilters' in the McCann case as they lack an individual to attack. Certainly the obsessive posting by a number of individuals around the internet seems designed to hurt both Knox and those they perceive as her supporters, thus I think matches the behaviour described in this paper with regards to the McCann 'guilters'.
So, in your mind, a 'guilter' is synonymous with a 'sadist' and 'cyberbully' (=troll).

Some could argue that calling someone by a derogatory playground name, more worthy of eleven year-olds, is in itself demeaning and a gross generalisation.

I have often come across people who take it very personally if you disagree with anything they say, so I never argue with them.

When I come to a forum, one expects to be able to debate an issue objectively. However, of course, there will always be those who can only argue by use of logical fallacy such as the sweeping generalisation and the ad hominem.


If you want us to accept your proposition, 'All "guilters" are sadistic cyberbullying trolls', you do need to back it it up with some kind of evidence.

Simply quoting Dr Synott doesn't in any way show that those persons who believe Maddie came to great harm are devoid of any feelings and are psychopaths.

His methods seem underhand. He set up a fake twitter account and encouraged 'Maddie' tweeters to communicate with his team and claims to have deliberately provoked them with material undermining their concerns over the cadaver dogs. When they responded with counter-material he accuses them of having a personality disorder.

I can't see that this constitutes a properly designed psychology study.
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
Vixen,
How do you determine which ones are trolls? Feel free to elaborate in detail.

I, for one, would consider someone who repeatedly posts deliberate, proven falsehoods a troll. Because if it is repeated and deliberate then it is clear they aren't there for discussion, but to antagonize. This is one criteria, IMO.

Do you agree or disagree with this?
Is it trolling to hold a view that opposes yours? No.
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:47 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
You don't think Psychology in Computer Behaviour or the Washington Post or members of the American Psychological Society are 'important source's?
LOL at this one bit:

"#McCann will be there, as if embedded into the platform."

Probably because hashtag functionality is literally embedded into the platform. Good investigative journalism, captain obvious!
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:00 AM   #19
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One comment from Synnott I found interesting was

Quote:
This was followed by an accusation that the researcher was “nothing but a cheap shill”, shill being a term frequently used by anti-McCann users in reference to an individual whom they believe is being paid to spin the facts in the McCann’s favour.
Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Now 'Shill' was not a word I had come across until reading posts related to the trial of Amanda Knox. Apparently there was a widespread belief amongst McCann guilters that the McCanns were wealthy enough to pay for a massive PR campaign. Despite the fact that both come from poor families and being a NHS doctor is not a way to wealth. This was paralleled by a similar belief that Knox also not from a wealthy but a middle class background could somehow afford to employ multiple posters across the internet as part of a massive PR campaign. This is then extended to reputable scientists who express a professional opinion that is not in line with the beliefs of pro-guilters. By labelling them as Shills the science could then be ignored. Any pro-defence witnesses or experts become Shills which implies that they are corrupt opinions for hire, and thus their evidence can be ignored.

On a broader front a similar approach is used by some anti-vaxxers who seek any evidence of a link between 'big pharma' and scientists who publish advocating vaccine safety, once some sort of link has been made then the research can be ignored as the scientists have become 'paid shills'.

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Old 15th April 2017, 09:07 AM   #20
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There are parallels with this and Bigfootery. The Pro-Bigfooters and the Anti-Bigfooters. Trolling. Dogpiling. Doxxing. Lying. Professionals with degrees. Insanity.

It's all there. All it requires is a popular topic with binary positions and no resolution (goes on forever).
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:08 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Is it trolling to hold a view that opposes yours? No.
I agree that it is not trolling to hold a view that opposes mine.

However, that is not what I asked. Here is what I asked:

Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
Vixen,
How do you determine which ones are trolls? Feel free to elaborate in detail.

I, for one, would consider someone who repeatedly posts deliberate, proven falsehoods a troll. Because if it is repeated and deliberate then it is clear they aren't there for discussion, but to antagonize. This is one criteria, IMO.

Do you agree or disagree with this?
Could you please answer the question that was asked of you?

A second criteria I would have for "trolling" would be distorting a question that was asked of you into something else entirely, and then answering that entirely different question. Why would I consider that trolling? Because it is obvious this does not contribute to discussion and is designed to manipulate the line of questions and antagonize rather than contribute. Which is the definition of "trolling".

Would you agree or disagree with this second criteria?
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:11 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong
I for one would consider someone who repeatedly posts deliberate proven falsehoods a troll
Not necessarily. If they genuinely do not think that what they are posting is a proven falsehood they should not be thought of as a troll
Take for example a Young Earth Creationist who thinks the Earth is only between 6000 to 7000 years old. They are simply stating their
honest opinion and have no ulterior motive beyond that. In this case it would be very unfair to label them a troll. And the fact they are
wrong and demonstrably so as well would not be sufficient reason to do so. For a troll by definition is someone with malicious intention
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:15 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by surreptitious57 View Post
Not necessarily. If they genuinely do not think that what they are posting is a proven falsehood they should not be thought of as a troll
Take for example a Young Earth Creationist who thinks the Earth is only between 6000 to 7000 years old. They are simply stating their
honest opinion and have no ulterior motive beyond that. In this case it would be very unfair to label them a troll. And the fact they are
wrong and demonstrably so as well would not be sufficient reason to do so. For a troll by definition is someone with malicious intention
Well, define "malicious". Because Hitler had good intentions. (Yeah, yeah I know comparison to Hitler. But it illustrates the point that just because the person thinks they are in the right does not make it not-malicious.)

I somewhat agree with your point re: young Earth Creationists. But what if said young earth creationist comes to this forum to debate, posts a document, claims it says "x", but then it ACTUALLY says "not x"? That is a deliberate falsehood designed to disrupt legitimate discussion, and the said poster should know better. It's not a matter of opinion or disagreement. It's a deliberate lie to create chaos, and that is what I would consider trolling. Numerous examples of this exact thing abound in the relevant topics.
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:46 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
One comment from Synnott I found interesting was


Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Now 'Shill' was not a word I had come across until reading posts related to the trial of Amanda Knox. Apparently there was a widespread belief amongst McCann guilters that the McCanns were wealthy enough to pay for a massive PR campaign. Despite the fact that both come from poor families and being a NHS doctor is not a way to wealth. This was paralleled by a similar belief that Knox also not from a wealthy but a middle class background could somehow afford to employ multiple posters across the internet as part of a massive PR campaign. This is then extended to reputable scientists who express a professional opinion that is not in line with the beliefs of pro-guilters. By labelling them as Shills the science could then be ignored. Any pro-defence witnesses or experts become Shills which implies that they are corrupt opinions for hire, and thus their evidence can be ignored.

On a broader front a similar approach is used by some anti-vaxxers who seek any evidence of a ling between 'big pharma' and scientists who publish advocating vaccine safety, once some sort of link has been made then the research can be ignored as the scientists have become 'paid shills'.
AIUI the origin of the word 'shill' derives from large scale confidence trickery which went on in the US (20's/30's) before compliance laws came into force. Mark Twain refers to it in Hucklebery Finn. It related to gangs of confidence tricksters moving from town to town setting up 'companies' which would typically take the form of a shopfront. A 'mark' (the person to be defrauded) would be invited by one of the gang to visit the 'betting shop' or whatever and on entering, would be greeted by 'other punters' eagerly betting on horses or 'making investments'. Under the pressure of the hard sell and heightened senses of being surrounded by enthusiastic people just like himself, the 'mark' could be persuaded to hand over sometimes huge sums of money. On returning to collect his winnings or return on invstment, he would discover the 'shop' was gone lock stock and barrel, together with the dawning realisation that the enthusiastic punters had been 'shills'. IOW the 'eager punters' had been part of the conmerchant team.

Fast forward to C21, 'shill' commonly refers to people planted on social media and in the mass media with the ulterior motive of swaying public opinion. A significant proportion of what one reads in the tabloids, in particular, are simply 'press releases' from the 'celebrities' own publicists.

Most of us can spot fake news. But there are PR firms and advertising agencies that will pay people to place their products. These products can be innocuous, such as washing powder, or it can be tantamount to electioneering or presenting a person charged with a serious crime as innocent in exchange for a fee.

In other words that person ardently advocating for, say, OJ Simpson, is a shill if they are only doing it because they have been paid to do so.


In this respect, those persons targetted by Dr Synott, were correct in their perception that his team were shills. This is because they cynically set out to 'infiltrate' the so-called 'anti-McCann trolls' (their description) in order for Dr Synott to produce his study confirming his own hypothesis (=what we in psychology call 'the halo effect', and which we are supposed to avoid). So the McCann tweeters were suspicious his team were shills? Conclusion? McCann tweeters 'are suspicious and think anyone infiltrating them must be a shill'.
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:47 AM   #25
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Now if the interpretation of the document is genuine and so involves no malicious intent then it cannot and must not be considered
trolling. The problem however is that no one can know for certain what the intent of anyone else is. And also someone may display
troll like behaviour without actually being one. There is no objective methodology for separating one from the other. Evidence over
time might indicate that someone is a troll. But even if they are one can never be certain. For that one would have to be telepathic
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:48 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
So, in your mind, a 'guilter' is synonymous with a 'sadist' and 'cyberbully' (=troll).

Some could argue that calling someone by a derogatory playground name, more worthy of eleven year-olds, is in itself demeaning and a gross generalisation.

I have often come across people who take it very personally if you disagree with anything they say, so I never argue with them.

When I come to a forum, one expects to be able to debate an issue objectively. However, of course, there will always be those who can only argue by use of logical fallacy such as the sweeping generalisation and the ad hominem.


If you want us to accept your proposition, 'All "guilters" are sadistic cyberbullying trolls', you do need to back it it up with some kind of evidence.

Simply quoting Dr Synott doesn't in any way show that those persons who believe Maddie came to great harm are devoid of any feelings and are psychopaths.

His methods seem underhand. He set up a fake twitter account and encouraged 'Maddie' tweeters to communicate with his team and claims to have deliberately provoked them with material undermining their concerns over the cadaver dogs. When they responded with counter-material he accuses them of having a personality disorder.

I can't see that this constitutes a properly designed psychology study.
Vixen you have a degree in psychology so you have greater expertise than I do. Perhaps you could write to the journal with your criticism of their methodology? Perhaps you could complain to the university or the British Psychological Society if you believe the research was unethical. As I understand ethnology is a well recognised methodology in social psychology.

I certainly see parallels in the behaviour of pro-guilters posting on the internet whether the target is McCann or Knox. One interesting parallel is that both were part of a couple but it is the woman who is picked on as being especially guilty.

As Synnott says,
Quote:
...the damaging impact the McCann trolls’ behaviour has had on those victimised, both online and offline, necessitating the continuation of research exploring the way in which aggressive forms of trolling materialise, so that we might consequently establish ways in which to effectively deal with them.
Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Buckells comments,
Quote:
....antisocial individuals have greater opportunities to con- nect with similar others, and to pursue their personal brand of ‘‘self expression’’ than they did before the advent of the Internet.
and further
Quote:
Our research suggests that, for those with sadistic personalities, that ideal self may be a villain of chaos and mayhem – the online Trickster we fear, envy, and love to hate: the cyber- troll.
Personality and Individual Differences 67 (2014) 97–102

The parallel between the McCann guilters and the Knox guilters is interesting not only in as much that the female partner was chosen to be the especial target of comments but also in the origin of the case again from Synnott 2017,

Quote:
...findings additionally supported Phillips’ (2015) assertion that trolls are “cultural scavengers” who essentially feast on existing issues of controversy which first pass through the media filter. This was particularly evident in the case of the anti-McCanns given that the trolling was preceded by a series of equally provocative and unsubstantiated news reports implicating the McCanns in Madeleine’s disappearance
.

I would argue that paralleling the McCann case the Kercher case was characterised by lurid but inaccurate new stories implicating Knox prior to any real evidence being obtained by the police.
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Old 15th April 2017, 09:55 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
AIUI the origin of the word 'shill' derives from large scale confidence trickery which went on in the US (20's/30's) before compliance laws came into force. Mark Twain refers to it in Hucklebery Finn. It related to gangs of confidence tricksters moving from town to town setting up 'companies' which would typically take the form of a shopfront. A 'mark' (the person to be defrauded) would be invited by one of the gang to visit the 'betting shop' or whatever and on entering, would be greeted by 'other punters' eagerly betting on horses or 'making investments'. In the pressure of the hard sell and heightened senses of being surrounded by enthusiastic people just like himself, the 'mark' could be persuaded to hand over sometimes huge sums of money. On returning to collect his winnings or return on invstment, he would discover the 'shop' was gone lock stock and barrel, together with the dawning realisation that the enthusiastic punters has been 'shills'. IOW they were part of the conmerchant team.
I don't think planigale was talking about the etiology of the word "shill". Just that the first time he had come across the word was in these internet discussions accusing, for example, top scientists in forensic genetics of being "shills" because they happened to have published peer reviewed work refuting the viewpoint of the "trolls".

Quote:
Fast forward to C21, 'shill' commonly refers to people planted on social media and in the mass media with the ulterior motive of swaying public opinion. A significant proportion of what one reads in the tabloids, in particular, are simply 'press releases' from the 'celebrities' own publicists.
So would it be accurate to say you can *accuse* anyone of being a shill, with no evidence whatsoever of them actually being compensated, in order to discredit their (often times expert) opinion?

Quote:
Most of us can spot fake news. But their are PR firms and advertising agencies that will pay people to place their products. These products can be innocuous, such as washing powder, or it can be tantamount to electioneering or presenting a person charged with a serious crime as innocent in exchange for a fee.
Yes, and there are trolls who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a shill, even if there is zero evidence they are being compensated. This, I would say, is another clear criteria for "trolling" rather than "honest disagreement".

Quote:
In this respect, those persons targetted by Dr Synott, were correct in their perception that his tean were shills. This is because they cynically set out to 'infiltrate' the so-called 'anti-McCann trolls' (their description) in order for Dr Synott to produce his study confirming his own hypothesis (=what we in psychology call 'the halo effect', and which we are supposed to avoid). So the McCann tweeters were suspicious his team were shills? Conclusion? McCann tweeters 'are suspicious and think anyone infiltrating them must be a shill'.
I don't think that is correct. From wikipedia the core definition of "shill" is:

Quote:
A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps or gives credibility to a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization.
So while the purpose of their communication was not as it was presented to be, that does not make them a "shill".

1) They were not actually advocating for McCann. They were simply there to gather information from and about the psychologically disturbed for the purposes of the study. There was no intent to "give credibility" or advocate for a cause. It was an information gathering mission for academic study.

2) Were they getting paid? If not, then not a shill.

So it doesn't appear to meet the intent or criteria for the actual definition of the word "shill".

Now, that doesn't mean you can't ACCUSE them of being shills in order to discredit their published findings. After all, that is what you do to discredit anyone and everyone who disagrees with you, isn't it?

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Old 15th April 2017, 09:56 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by surreptitious57 View Post
Not necessarily. If they genuinely do not think that what they are posting is a proven falsehood they should not be thought of as a troll
Take for example a Young Earth Creationist who thinks the Earth is only between 6000 to 7000 years old. They are simply stating their
honest opinion and have no ulterior motive beyond that. In this case it would be very unfair to label them a troll. And the fact they are
wrong and demonstrably so as well would not be sufficient reason to do so. For a troll by definition is someone with malicious intention
I would further draw a difference between someone who promotes a view point, and a young earth creationist might be such a person that is not personal and when that view is about an individual. especially when those expressing views can become harmful by the continued harrying of an individual and posting of negative comments. Thus promoting ID may not be malicious but attacking individuals who e.g. teach evolution is a different issue.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:00 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by surreptitious57 View Post
Now if the interpretation of the document is genuine and so involves no malicious intent then it cannot and must not be considered
trolling. The problem however is that no one can know for certain what the intent of anyone else is. And also someone may display
troll like behaviour without actually being one. There is no objective methodology for separating one from the other. Evidence over
time might indicate that someone is a troll. But even if they are one can never be certain. For that one would have to be telepathic
Sure, I see what you're saying.

But what if said young earth creationist then posts that same document and lies about its contents 20+ more times, after being corrected 19 times on it already.

Troll or not? I don't think you have to be telepathic to evaluate the evidence and go with the balance of probabilities here.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:00 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
I agree that it is not trolling to hold a view that opposes mine.

However, that is not what I asked. Here is what I asked:



Could you please answer the question that was asked of you?

A second criteria I would have for "trolling" would be distorting a question that was asked of you into something else entirely, and then answering that entirely different question. Why would I consider that trolling? Because it is obvious this does not contribute to discussion and is designed to manipulate the line of questions and antagonize rather than contribute. Which is the definition of "trolling".

Would you agree or disagree with this second criteria?
I have not followed the McCann community, but I do remember the tabloid press similarly casting doubts on the parents' story and were forced to pay damages and retract their claims.

I can remember the first time I saw Maddie's disappearance mentioned. It was a tiny paragraph in the EVENING STANDARD as I was travelling home from work hanging onto a handle.

Then, days later, it began to turn into a big story. On my forum we discussed how odd it all was.

AFAICS it was genuine discussion and not 'trolling'.


I don't keep up with the McCann hashtag and don't comment on the case publicly, not because I am afraid of litigation, but because nobody knows what happened and IMV it would be improper to target the parents as I cannot think of anything worse than to lose a child. However, that's not to say that persons better informed than me should or should not comment. It's up to each of us to take responsibility for our own actions.

My values may not be someone else's. To label a whole group of people sadistic cyberbullying 'trolls' based on one's experience of winding people up from a fake twitter account and calling it a serious psychological study, is not something I can endorse.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:03 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I have not followed the McCann community, but I do remember the tabloid press similarly casting doubts on the parents' story and were forced to pay damages and retract their claims.

I can remember the first time I saw Maddie's disappearance mentioned. It was a tiny paragraph in the EVENING STANDARD as I was travelling home from work hanging onto a handle.

Then, days later, it began to turn into a big story. On my forum we discussed how odd it all was.

AFAICS it was genuine discussion and not 'trolling'.


I don't keep up with the McCann hashtag and don't comment on the case publicly, not because I am afraid of litigation, but because nobody knows what happened and IMV it would be improper to target the parents as I cannot think of anything worse than to lose a child. However, that's not to say that persons better informed than me should or should not comment. It's up to each of us to take responsibility for our own actions.

My values may not be someone else's. To label a whole group of people sadistic cyberbullying 'trolls' based on one's experience of winding people up from a fake twitter account and calling it a serious psychological study, is not something I can endorse.
Vixen,
I didn't ask you if you followed the McCann community. I asked you a VERY simple question. One that you continue to avoid answering. Here it is again:

Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
Vixen,
How do you determine which ones are trolls? Feel free to elaborate in detail.

I, for one, would consider someone who repeatedly posts deliberate, proven falsehoods a troll. Because if it is repeated and deliberate then it is clear they aren't there for discussion, but to antagonize. This is one criteria, IMO.

Do you agree or disagree with this?
Please stay on topic. The topic you raised is is online trolling a real phenomenon. I don't care about your personal history or viewpoint of the McCann case. I want to know how you determine whether someone is trolling or just has a legitimate disagreement and is trying to understand the case better.

Please answer the actual question I asked. Thanks in advance.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:06 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
I would further draw a difference between someone who promotes a view point, and a young earth creationist might be such a person that is not personal and when that view is about an individual. especially when those expressing views can become harmful by the continued harrying of an individual and posting of negative comments. Thus promoting ID may not be malicious but attacking individuals who e.g. teach evolution is a different issue.
If you are referring to one private individual who made an unacceptable communication on a social media, it is surely a logical fallacy to say this refers to all 'guilters' by association.


Against this it has to be understood that when there is an atrocious act, then the perceived perpetrator does get subjected to angry comments on social media.

This is not the same as discussing the case on a forum.

I would argue that a heinous crime is a case of public interest and people should not be censored from discussing the facts of the case.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:08 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Anti-McCanns and Pro-McCanns are both plumb crazy. Each spends more than one minute per year thinking about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Definitely. ^

Fascinating thread. Of course there is an issue unique to online trolls. It's bizarre. I posted quite a bit defending the poor nurse in Maine who was harassed after coming back from volunteering with ebola patients. Practicing-medicine-without-a-license Chris Christie deemed she needed to be quarantined. She and her boyfriend both were under siege from trolls on and offline. There were only a few of us defending her using facts to fight their ignorant fear.

And most of us know about the trolls that show up on women's blogs threatening rape and murder. And then there was/is the Kercher/Knox troll battles, (thread discussion not the same).

I'm going to have to read the links in order to comment on the OP. And that's after taxes and holiday festivities.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:10 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
If you are referring to one private individual who made an unacceptable communication on a social media, it is surely a logical fallacy to say this refers to all 'guilters' by association.
I think planigale is saying this is but one example of many. When you have a bunch of these examples it becomes a pattern of behavior among the group. So it seems a big disingenuous to then say "but we're just having an honest discussion and happen to disagree! Quit bullying us!"

Quote:
Against this it has to be understood that when there is an atrocious act, then the perceived perpetrator does get subjected to angry comments on social media.
I mean, sure I guess.... But what if the "perceived perpetrator" is proven innocent? At some point can they ever be broken free of the harassment or is it all honest disagreement?

Quote:
This is not the same as discussing the case on a forum.
No one said it was.

Quote:
I would argue that a heinous crime is a case of public interest and people should not be censored from discussing the facts of the case.
No one is saying it should be censored from discussion. It is the way it is "discussed" (and I use the term discussion loosely). Did you read the article you linked to? It's not about censoring discussion at all!
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:11 AM   #35
Vixen
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
Vixen,
I didn't ask you if you followed the McCann community. I asked you a VERY simple question. One that you continue to avoid answering. Here it is again:



Please stay on topic. The topic you raised is is online trolling a real phenomenon. I don't care about your personal history or viewpoint of the McCann case. I want to know how you determine whether someone is trolling or just has a legitimate disagreement and is trying to understand the case better.

Please answer the actual question I asked. Thanks in advance.
Trolling is someone who introduces a logical fallacy. On social media this is invariably name-calling, making personal comments, usually related to one being of 'low intellect', having learning difficulties, language comprehension, references to nationality, age, class, political/religous beliefs or gender, what we call ad hominem attack.

Abuse designed to start a fight.

I never get involved.

I am not interested in it.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:15 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Trolling is someone who introduces a logical fallacy.
Uh, no. I don't think the definition of trolling is "introducing a logical fallacy". Where did you get that?

It is about harassment and disrupting communities, forums, and actual discussion. It is the method of communication and the way things are communicated.

Quote:
On social media this is invariably name-calling, making personal comments, usually related to one being of 'low intellect', having learning difficulties, language comprehension, references to nationality, age, class, political/religous beliefs or gender, what we call ad hominem attack.
Is accusing someone of being paid to give their expert opinion (re: shill) with no evidence whatsoever to back it up an ad hominem personal attack?

The answer is yes: thus you have just admitted accusing someone of shilling is being a troll.

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Abuse designed to start a fight.
Sure.

Quote:
I never get involved.

I am not interested in it.
Lol!
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:24 AM   #37
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While far from exhaustive, one sign of trolling is when someone posts claims repeatedly and never backs them up.

Another is when one accuses experts of being "shills" (convo above), without once providing evidence (other than the bare assertion) that even points in that direction. A buttress to this sign is when it is simply factual that every peer-review expert in the world holds similar views, yet one-by-one they are deemed "shills" because of the views they hold, once again without once demonstrating any "in kind" payment.

People here contribute to blogs, one blog in which documentarians (who produce for NetFlix) are called shills themselves, simply because they hold similar views to a first-group of people who'd held those views previous to it all, when those views had been in the minority. It goes like this: "The NetFlix documentarians just happened to go to Perugia in 2011, and miraculously adopted the same views as Bruce Fischer. Why is that?" The "Why is that?" is simply posed as a conspiractorial-sounding question.

There is a style of trolling which will never accept that individuals can come to similar views contrary to the trolling-view, without some sort of conspiracy involved.

Trolls often fall back on ad hominem-ish claims like, "Your little darling Amanda," or, "you will take the side of the American," "You're anti-Italian," or, "You're secretly attracted to the little blonde," as a way to inflame the debate.

For me, I'd like a discussion on the difference between trolling and gaslighting.

ETA - as N.E.W. put it, "It is about harassment and disrupting communities, forums, and actual discussion."
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:28 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Vixen you have a degree in psychology so you have greater expertise than I do. Perhaps you could write to the journal with your criticism of their methodology? Perhaps you could complain to the university or the British Psychological Society if you believe the research was unethical. As I understand ethnology is a well recognised methodology in social psychology.

I certainly see parallels in the behaviour of pro-guilters posting on the internet whether the target is McCann or Knox. One interesting parallel is that both were part of a couple but it is the woman who is picked on as being especially guilty.

As Synnott says,

Computers in Human Behavior 2017 71;70–78

Buckells comments,

and further

Personality and Individual Differences 67 (2014) 97–102

The parallel between the McCann guilters and the Knox guilters is interesting not only in as much that the female partner was chosen to be the especial target of comments but also in the origin of the case again from Synnott 2017,

.

I would argue that paralleling the McCann case the Kercher case was characterised by lurid but inaccurate new stories implicating Knox prior to any real evidence being obtained by the police.

As I see it, there are two issues here. How are females perceived in the crime/legal world? Social psychologists have found time and time again that where a crime is a serious one, such as the murder of a child, then the public are particularly condemnatory (cf Myra Hindley, Rose West) as women are seen as mothers, carers and nurturers. Plus it is relatively rare.

In minor crime, such as 'kiting' a cheque, where there is a partnership with a man and a woman, it has been commonly observed that the male partner is assumed to be the leader, leading the female astray and will get a harsher sentence.

Your parallel between the two cases is moot as someone who believes in the guilt of, say, OJ Simpson, does not ipso facto believe in the guilt of all acquitted defendants. That is a sweeping generalisation.

Apart from one or two people, I have not seen any crossover between the McCann Community and the Kercher one.

I have noticed that quite a few pro-Knox/Sollecito supporters are supporters of innocence projects in general and support the innocence of Steven Avery, the West Memphis Three, Syed, etc., etc., almost as a matter of course.

The other issue is the nature of the crime. The Kercher crime involved the horrifying murder, rape and desecration by the perps. it should be no surprise the world was shocked that a female of a similar age to the victim was arrested, together with her boyfriend, given it is relatively rare for a woman to sexually assault another.

ETA As for people attacking Katie McCann more than Gerry McCann. I haven't noticed this. If anything, from what I have seen, many of the so-called 'anti-McCann' believe Gerry to be involved. They are both equally focused on.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:34 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
I don't think planigale was talking about the etiology of the word "shill". Just that the first time he had come across the word was in these internet discussions accusing, for example, top scientists in forensic genetics of being "shills" because they happened to have published peer reviewed work refuting the viewpoint of the "trolls".



So would it be accurate to say you can *accuse* anyone of being a shill, with no evidence whatsoever of them actually being compensated, in order to discredit their (often times expert) opinion?



Yes, and there are trolls who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a shill, even if there is zero evidence they are being compensated. This, I would say, is another clear criteria for "trolling" rather than "honest disagreement".



I don't think that is correct. From wikipedia the core definition of "shill" is:



So while the purpose of their communication was not as it was presented to be, that does not make them a "shill".

1) They were not actually advocating for McCann. They were simply there to gather information from and about the psychologically disturbed for the purposes of the study. There was no intent to "give credibility" or advocate for a cause. It was an information gathering mission for academic study.

2) Were they getting paid? If not, then not a shill.

So it doesn't appear to meet the intent or criteria for the actual definition of the word "shill".

Now, that doesn't mean you can't ACCUSE them of being shills in order to discredit their published findings. After all, that is what you do to discredit anyone and everyone who disagrees with you, isn't it?

Dr Synott gains from publishing his article. He was shilling by not disclosing his secret agenda, which was to unmask the pathology of the McCann followers. It begs the question of whether they can be assumed to be disturbed. Many people have reservations about the McCann case. It doesn't mean they are disturbed sadists.
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Old 15th April 2017, 10:41 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by NotEvenWrong View Post
Sure, I see what you're saying.

But what if said young earth creationist then posts that same document and lies about its contents 20+ more times, after being corrected 19 times on it already.

Troll or not? I don't think you have to be telepathic to evaluate the evidence and go with the balance of probabilities here.
Some creationists genuinely believe in creationist theory. For example, in human's supposed five million year history, only the last ten thousand years or so shows any sign of civilisation. Is someone relentlessly saying, 'no we evolved from primaeval soup', given the aforesaid evidence, less of a troll just because that is the view you agree with, and probably inculcated with from an early age?

I see where you are coming from. For you, a troll is someone who sees the world differently from you.
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