Researcher Spent 4 Years Embedded With the Internet's Worst Trolls

18:01 May 1 2015 California, USA

Humboldt State University professor Whitney Phillips embedded with trolls for four years. She spent countless hours on 4chan and even created a troll pseudonym on Facebook to interact with, perhaps, the worst trolls on the internet: The people who troll the friends and family members of recently deceased teens.

Phillips has just published This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, a book that argues that, while trolls may do some pretty objectively terrible things, their tactics are often informed by—and sometimes indistinguishable from—those of the mainstream media.

Turns out, the status quo—internet troll says or does terrible thing, media reports terrible thing, troll trolls media more, media reports on that—works for everyone involved. Trolls want the attention and the feeling that they’re influencing a major media organization, the media organization gets some easy stories that sell. The cycle continues.
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