"DELICATE, WEAK, LANGUISHING"
4chan: Feeding Children to Trolls
You've probably taken a whiff of the so-called “asshole of the internet” by now. Maybe you've been Rickrolled. You might have lolled at a lolcat. You may even have been touched by Pedobear. But it's extremely likely that you have — consciously, or not — experienced one of the many memes birthed by the legion of Anon (anonymous contributors) to 4chan.org's infamous “random” subforum /b/. [...]
Some members of /b/ justify trolling as a way of exposing vulnerability. After all, if it weren't for that jerk at the parade, the emperor would still think he was wearing clothes, and that wouldn't be very good at all. But trolling isn't always that positive. It may be good for everyone to learn that the emperor is indeed naked, but do we really need to know that 13-year olds are emotionally unstable and bad at grammar? Does knowing that help the 13-year-old any? Does knowing that help us? [...]
Is the goal of trolling to breed a generation of passionless cynics? To make sincere Internet users become trolls, too? [...]
Malwebolence: The World of Web Trolling
Measured in terms of depravity, insularity and traffic-driven turnover, the culture of /b/ has little precedent. /b/ reads like the inside of a high-school bathroom stall, or an obscene telephone party line, or a blog with no posts and all comments filled with slang that you are too old to understand. [...]
In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.”
Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.
“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll who, like many people I contacted, refused to disclose his legal identity.
Another troll explained the lulz as a quasi-thermodynamic exchange between the sensitive and the cruel: “You look for someone who is full of it, a real blowhard. Then you exploit their insecurities to get an insane amount of drama, laughs and lulz. Rules would be simple: 1. Do whatever it takes to get lulz. 2. Make sure the lulz is widely distributed. This will allow for more lulz to be made. 3. The game is never over until all the lulz have been had.” [...]
Among /b/’s more interesting spawn is Anonymous, a group of masked pranksters who organized protests at Church of Scientology branches around the world. [...]
Technology, apparently, does more than harness the wisdom of the crowd. It can intensify its hatred as well. [...]
Fortuny disagreed. In his mind, subjecting epileptic users to flashing lights was justified. “Hacks like this tell you to watch out by hitting you with a baseball bat,” he told me. “Demonstrating these kinds of exploits is usually the only way to get them fixed.” [...]
Does free speech tend to move toward the truth or away from it? When does it evolve into a better collective understanding? When does it collapse into the Babel of trolling, the pointless and eristic game of talking the other guy into crying “uncle”? Is the effort to control what’s said always a form of censorship, or might certain rules be compatible with our notions of free speech? [...]
Why inflict anguish on a helpless stranger? It’s tempting to blame technology, which increases the range of our communications while dehumanizing the recipients. Cases like An Hero and Megan Meier presumably wouldn’t happen if the perpetrators had to deliver their messages in person. But while technology reduces the social barriers that keep us from bedeviling strangers, it does not explain the initial trolling impulse. This seems to spring from something ugly — a destructive human urge that many feel but few act upon, the ambient misanthropy that’s a frequent ingredient of art, politics and, most of all, jokes. There’s a lot of hate out there, and a lot to hate as well. [...]
Many trolling practices, like prank-calling the Hendersons and intimidating Kathy Sierra, violate existing laws against harassment and threats. The difficulty is tracking down the perpetrators. In order to prosecute, investigators must subpoena sites and Internet service providers to learn the original author’s IP address, and from there, his legal identity. Local police departments generally don’t have the means to follow this digital trail, and federal investigators have their hands full with spam, terrorism, fraud and child pornography. But even if we had the resources to aggressively prosecute trolls, would we want to? Are we ready for an Internet where law enforcement keeps watch over every vituperative blog and backbiting comments section, ready to spring at the first hint of violence? Probably not. All vigorous debates shade into trolling at the perimeter; it is next to impossible to excise the trolling without snuffing out the debate. [...]
Of course, none of these methods will be fail-safe as long as individuals like Fortuny construe human welfare the way they do. As we discussed the epilepsy hack, I asked Fortuny whether a person is obliged to give food to a starving stranger. No, Fortuny argued; no one is entitled to our sympathy or empathy. We can choose to give or withhold them as we see fit. “I can’t push you into the fire,” he explained, “but I can look at you while you’re burning in the fire and not be required to help.” [...]
How to Troll 4chan!!1
The Art of Trolling: Inside a 4chan Smear Campaign
Serious question: Doesn't 4chan's owner have any sense of decency? Why doesn't he do something about this?
Can't anyone do something about this?
Reply: There are hundreds of thousands of posts on 4chan on an hourly basis. For /b/, the board in question, there is a full-time staff of moderators trying to keep highly illegal content off the front page. And that's about all that can be done.
Moot can't control the group, because the group can't control the group. Think how geese migrate - there is a collective direction, and individual groups within the flock, but for the most part, it's a bunch of bird brains heading south.
11-Year-Old Viral Video Star Placed Under Police Protection
Why isn't there a board dedicated to revealing the personal info of 4chan users?
Reply: there is such a board. it's called the 'party van'. and it's dedicated to bringing down teh lulz wherever it may be found. but many of these people are hiding behind 7 proxies to avoid being caught.
4chan Hackers Attack Gawker Again
The disturbing thing is that this militant arm of 4Chan, with its publicly accessible /b/ board and livechat, is not the worst thing about them by a long shot. There's a hidden website associated as a branch of 4Chan that looks like a carbon copy version of 4Chan.org that's dedicated entirely to child pornography, and the members are essentially one in the same. The technology that enables them to run this website is the same that allows them to troll as they do without being found out.
Reply: Yes, there are pedophiles on 4chan, the anonymous nature of it almost guarantees that the fucked up crazies come out of the woodwork. Posting child porn on 4chan will get your IP banned, but if you use a proxy there's not much else you can do, hence they persist. But 4chan is in no way related to child pornography websites. I'm sure they share some of the same users but not as many as go to 4chan just to look at funny pictures when they're bored. There's also no technology that enables anyone to run a website devoted to child porn openly, all sites are hosted from a static IP address which is traceable to a server that hosts the content. If you know of a site like that report it to the FBI or Interpol and they can get whatever company that hosts the server or provides internet access to the server to shut it down.