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Trolls: Some Examples

Here are some examples of trolls and their impact

troll

Fraud

Internet trolling for monetary gain has been around a long time on the internet. The Times (Nov 4th 1998) reported on internet deception:

"According to the Securities Exchange Commission, ... 44 individuals and companies... received in total more than $6.3million and nearly two million shares of cheap insider stock..."

"SEC director of enforcement Richard H Walker... warned investors about operators such as Matthew Bowin, who...entirely over the internet... raised $190,000 from 150 investors and then pocketed the proceeds.... He was convicted of 54 felony counts and sentenced to jail."

Building false hopes

In early 1998 an "announcement" was made, by email distribution, of an advancement in diabetic research:

A new medicine is available which helps bring blood sugar levels under better control.

Readers were referred to a web site where details of the research and the product were available. The information was credibly presented. At the end of the article, readers could obtain a trial bottle of the new medicine, for a reasonable price, and an order form was presented.

Of course, there had been no such break through.  The purpose of this scam was to obtain credit card information, which was requested on the order form. The scam relied on diabetics or their families being unfamiliar with the risks of submitting credit card information over the internet, and being willing to give anything a try to improve their lifestyle or that of their diabetic relatives.

Security Details

Another common email scam is designed to get your logon banking details, or access to an account that contains credit card information. The example, below, appears to be a legitimate email from the Halifax, but isn't.

Similar emails may emulate non-financial sources, such as Ebay. If you give your Ebay details away it may be possible for someone to use your credit card details.

Wanton Damage

On Jan 27 1999, BBC Breakfast News made the following report:

"A new kind of warfare is emerging - electronic warfare.  A website in Ireland was forced to close down because it came under electronic attack"

The news article continued with a brief dramatic reconstruction showing the Webmaster hurriedly unplugging lots of cables from the back of an internet server. In a brief interview, the Webmaster then said:

"We had no choice - there was nothing we could do.  We just had to unplug everything and then see what damage had been done."

The Thrill of the Chase

The following quotation was taken from the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) of a mailing list dedicated to trolling. It shows the mentality of people who just enjoy causing strife:

Although not exactly a FAQ, this file is more of an explanation of why alt.syntax.tactical and the Tactical-List were created. It also lays down the foundation for the structure, strategy and protocol of usenet invasions.

* Invasion *

Each of us brings our own reasons, backgrounds and motivations into this scheme. What is important is that each individual brings into this their own brand of inspired mischief. In someways it is completely innocent.

In someways it is completely destructive.

Anyone can walk into alt.sex and post that pornography should be banned. Anyone can walk into rec.sport.baseball and say "baseball sucks".

It takes unbelievable skill and discipline to cause a PROLONGED flame war.

That is what we do. But it can only be done with talent, and numbers to match that talent. We only bring into the fold people who have the knack to use smarts to incite chaos, not stupidity to incite being ignored when people see a post and know what you're up to.

Conclusion

These are only a small selection of the types of trolling that take place on the internet. There are more serious forms - such as paedophiles enticing children to meet them - or less serious ones - such as individuals pretending to be someone different to who they really are, in order to impress. With the latter type, the boundary between trolling and normal behaviour becomes blurred.

Return to main troll article



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