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Corporate Trolls Out to Stifle Internet Trolls

Be careful what you say or write on the Internet… because you may have a mom in the United Kingdom or a call center staff in the Philippines slap your hand with a digital ruler. Or worse, threaten you with a team of corporate lawyers.

The Financial Times recently had an interesting (albeit somewhat disappointing) article on the topic of online moderators.

It turns out that “social media management” companies (as they like to refer to themselves) such as Emoderation and Tempero hire “college-educated staff” to scour the web looking for troublemakers on forums and comment sections. They spend their days and nights hunting Internet “trolls,” who may or may not live in their parent’s basement posting comments with the sole intent of harming your sensitive minds by attacking your thoughtful comments and posts.

And while I may not have any numbers in front of me, I’m relatively certain most of us have probably run across trolls at one point or another. Whether you run a blog or a website, frequent forums, or just enjoy commenting on news articles, it’s practically (or should i now say “used to be”) unavoidable. It also should be considered par for the course when you’re connected and utilizing the single greatest free expression tool of our time.

There are literally (and thankfully) untold thousands out there who don’t think like you or I, each with with dissimilar likes, ideologies, senses of humor, emotional connections to people and ideas, and/or positive or negative outlooks on the universe.

Thus is the individual life experience.

But apparently this is somehow impaired. Or at least it is to this new crop of Internet monitoring companies (sorry, “social media management” companies) that want to restrict or delete words, ideas, or inflammatory suggestions.

The article tries (rather unsuccessfully) to paint a picture of necessity and pity for these companies and their staff. In addition, it attempts to tarnish trolls with a broad brush dipped and corrupted in pedophilia and child abuse.

The flaw in this logic is… how many pedophiles has one encountered while reading comments, for example, in a news story about Apple funneling money offshore to avoid taxes? Exactly how many children were “abused” by that story?

The answer reminds me of something I learned from my days in the corporate world. The more something is repeated, the more that something is flaunted as reality or the truth. The more a word, a phrase, a slogan, or “truthiness” is paraded around as if Moses himself had brought it down from the mountaintop… well, the more it just isn’t true.

The demand seems to be coming from a place less about protecting all the kiddies in the world (who should not be on the Internet in the first place without adult supervision) and more about marginalizing anyone who has issue with a product, service, or business model from the corporate world—Government Inc. included.

The article spends a lot of time skirting the fact that these companies are mainly hired by such major corporations as HSBC, Canon, and MTV to guard their reputations (ummmm, MTV has a reputation to protect with shows like 16 and pregnant??) and to protect their unadulterated brand names.

This is corporatism at its best—borrowing pages out of an Orwell novel, trying to convince us that black is white, “nanny” is here to protect us, bailouts for Wall Street are good, and Main Street is home to a bunch of crazed lunatics that need to be controlled, stripped of their freedoms, and their wealth confiscated and transferred to the government and/or the wealthy.

Moreover, one has to roll their eyes at the U.K. government jumping on this bandwagon of Nanny State protection, especially after the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal at Her Majesty’s Government’s BBC. Perhaps the U.K. government should stick to policing its own employees before worrying about Internet trolls.

But there again, that’s just it, this has little to do with protecting children. This is about squashing freedom of speech, ideas, and expression—which are evidently dangerous things to these so-called “free market” corporations.

There is a sad reality that seems more apparent with each passing day, and that’s the fact that the Internet is slowing being turned into cable television. Soon there will be 100 channels of garbage, littered with corporatism, controlled by a seemingly two-headed monster one screaming this way, the other screaming that way, only to be traveling down the same path.

I guess this is to be expected. Isn’t everything that’s free and pure sooner or later infected with parasites intended to kill the host? Isn’t that what time is all about… leading us all down a road to self-destruction or decay?

I’ll close with a question for these “social media managers.” Riddle me this, my corporate grumpy old trolls… how does it feel to wake each morning only to work toward the destruction of the very thing that allows you to pay your bills, gives you a roof over your head, and puts food on your table? What’s more, it more than likely also gives you hours of enjoyment. How does that feel… to contribute to the quick death of something that you hold so near and dear?

  • Robby

    The Internet has been heading towards boob-tube-land for years now. Look at Youtube. The Youtube I remember, and what kids have now? Night and day. The glory age of the Internet is over, until the next info vehicle is created.

  • Canadian Bacon

    “It’s for the children!”

    Sounds a lot like the “War on drugs!” or the “War on terror!”