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The Troll’s Guide to Internet Disruption

The Troll’s Guide to Internet Disruption

The 15 Rules of Web Disruption

David Martin’s Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression, H. Michael Sweeney’s 25 Rules of Disinformation (and now Brandon Smith’s Disinformation: How It Works) are classic lessons on how to spot disruption and disinformation tactics.

We’ve seen a number of tactics come and go over the years. Here are the ones we see a lot of currently.

1. Start a partisan divide-and-conquer fight or otherwise push emotional buttons to sow discord and ensure that cooperation is thwarted. Get people fighting against each other instead of the corrupt powers-that-be. Use baseless caricatures to rile everyone up. For example, start a religious war whenever possible using stereotypes like “all Jews are selfish”, “all Christians are crazy” or “all Muslims are terrorists”. Accuse the author of being a gay, pro-abortion limp-wristed wimp or being a fundamentalist pro-war hick when the discussion has nothing to do with abortion, sexuality, religion, war or region. Appeal to people’s basest prejudices and biases. And – as Sweeney explains – push the author into a defensive posture:

Sidetrack opponents with name calling and ridicule … Associate opponents with unpopular titles such as “kooks”, “right-wing”, “liberal”, “left-wing”, “terrorists”, “conspiracy buffs”, “radicals”, “militia”, “racists”, “religious fanatics”, “sexual deviates”, and so forth. This makes others shrink from support out of fear of gaining the same label, and you avoid dealing with issues.

(The person trying to smear reputation may not be a random knucklehead … he may, in fact, be a government agent, or a member of the group he’s smearing.)

 

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