Trolling on the Internet: Sockpuppet Accounts Disrupt Conversation Online

Ever been in the comments section under a YouTube video and thought: WTF are these lunatics talking about? Chances are you’ve seen, or even taken part of, a comment thread that’s been created and curated by an Internet troll.

This blog post will focus on the impact that “sockpuppet accounts” can have on online discourse between members of the public and niche audiences led by individuals with vested interests. This is going to be an introduction to the darker side of the Internet and how sockpuppet accounts are used for trolling.

In the New Scientist article, “Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post,” Edd Gent reports on what researcher Srijan Kumar, of the University of Maryland, said, “In the era of fake news, detecting sock puppets is important…Whenever multiple accounts are used by the same party it is harmful and it skews the discussion and fake news can be propagated very confidently” (Gent 2017).

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“The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: The Expert ‘Space Weather’ Asks YouTuber ‘Dutchsinse’ to Stop Cyber-Bullying”

In addition to being the home of cute puppy photos and millions of cat videos, the Internet can also be a house of horrors when someone uses it for the purpose of trolling, stalking or harassing another individual. While a crackdown on cyber-bullying using the laws that are already on the books has been gaining popularity among the public, cyber-harassment is still commonplace on YouTube, which remains the vulgar Wild West of the Web.

The fake news and pseudoscience being propagated through popular social media platforms present unique challenges to the existence of free speech on the Internet, with the old axiom attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan being as relevant as ever: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.

Taking that a step further: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to preventing another from sharing their own opinion. Cyber-harassment is intimidation that uses threats and coercion in an attempt to control/manipulate the person being targeted. On social media it’s often employed as a tactic to silence an opponent and quell damaging dissent/questions.

An Intro to YouTuber Michael Janitch (Dutchsinse)

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The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: Computational Propaganda Creates the Illusion of Popularity and Support

It’s a simple fact that a user of social media is more likely to interact with, and share content if it looks like other users are doing the same. But what we now have to consider is whether those other initial interactions are even real, or if we’re being duped into thinking we’ve found something that’s more popular than it actually is.

For the most part, people don’t want to belong to a group that is seen as “unpopular.” However, there is a way of developing support for an “unpopular” person, group or cause by creating the illusion of popularity through manipulating how social media works; this artificial popularity can garner actual support in the real world.

In this case: some of the content creators who use social media benefit from an illusion of popularity that can be created by inflating follower/subscriber counts, through the use of “follower bots,” which can translate to real popularity, actual support and financial gain over time.

What is computational propaganda?

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The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: What Constitutes Evidence for Claims (Prequel to ‘Potholer54’ vs. ‘Suspicious0bservers’)

While a debate between the science journalist Peter Hadfield (Potholer54) and YouTuber Ben Davidson (Suspicious0bservers) has been set for Wednesday March 28th, 2018, their current “misunderstanding” is going to be the topic of my next blog post.

My previous blog article pointed out the illegitimacy of Ben Davidson’s (Suspicious0bservers) claims of having a “peer-reviewed publication” to his name. This was done by emphasizing the criticisms made by the solar physicist behind the YouTube channel, Space Weather, about how “what Ben has done is he’s given his paper to a poor journal with no quality peers and as a result ended up with poor results and bad research” (Space Weather 2017).

This blog post is going to expand that focus to a couple of Ben Davidson’s other claims. But first, it’s important to sledge-hammer this nail on the head: there is a big difference between publishing a paper in a reputable peer-reviewed journal and publishing one in a predatory journal that is meant to mimic the peer-review process; the latter of which is pseudoscience that anyone can do, while the former is what constitutes evidence for the scientific claims made by experts.

What is a Predatory Journal?

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The War Against Fake News and Pseudoscience on YouTube: ‘Space Weather’ vs. ‘Suspicious0bservers’

Hello everybody, I apologize for the long absence, however, a lot has happened over the past several months!

Anyway, today’s blog post is a slow-burn introduction to two YouTube channels that are polar opposites of one another: one promotes science and the other monetizes pseudoscience.

The first channel is called, Space Weather, and it’s owned and operated by a man who has degrees in physics as well as 30+ years of experience working as a space weather forecaster. He created his YouTube channel with the purpose of correcting misinformation and making a public record to show that some of the pseudoscience circulating on social media is being challenged with real science.

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The Conspiracy Film “Kymatica” – Transcribed Portions

As promised, here is the follow-up blog post to, “Sovereign Citizens: The Rise of Pseudolegal Extremist Movements,” which contains the transcript of relevant portions from the conspiracy film “Kymatica.”

Falling for conspiracy theories on the internet can destroy your life by taking a drastic toll on relationships with family and friends, leaving you isolated and vulnerable to duplicitous “online communities.” The study, “Changing Conspiracy Beliefs through Rationality and Ridiculing,” also noted that, “Conspiracy theory (CT) beliefs can be harmful” (Orosz 2016).

Researchers of this study found that both “rationality speech” and “ridiculing speech” were effective in reducing belief in conspiracy theories among a small sampling of Hungarians (Dolan 2016).

The least effective method of communication, persuasion is “empathetic speech,” emotional appeals have very little influence when it comes to changing the beliefs of a conspiracist: “Rational and ridiculing arguments were effective in reducing CT, whereas empathizing with the targets of CTs had no effect” (Orosz 2016).

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An Introduction to “Gang-Stalking”

An Introduction to the Delusion of “Gang-Stalking”

If you’ve spent any time on YouTube, then you’re probably familiar with “compilation videos.” These videos range in subject matter from normal things like popular songs, movies and sports clips to compilations of extreme events such as natural disasters, fights and public “freakouts.”

The motivation for this blog post came after viewing one of the latter types of compilations. It was made up of short cell phone video clips taken of people “freaking out” in public and several of these people appeared to be suffering from some kind of mental disorder.

A topic was highlighted in one of these compilation videos that I’d never come across before. At the end of the video, “Public Freakout Compilation #104,” a woman is recording some drugged-out young adults who are stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire; the woman claims that they are “gang-stalking” her.

It’s obvious that the woman recording the video is unwell and has misinterpreted this group of burn-outs, and their shoddy Kia Sportage, as willing actors in a malevolent plot against her.

Any denial on their part only strengthens her conviction that they are gang-stalking her. The end of the video is anti-climatic as nothing is actually happening and a lot of it is taking place inside of this woman’s head:

What is the delusion of gang-stalking?

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