Robots, socks and gloves

November 22nd, 2011

Whilst reading over the comments to the video of some robotic, brainwashed OWS chanters trying to disrupt a Ron Paul speech, I noticed something that seemed vaguely familiar; a comment, which in content and form looked like many other comments I have been coming across that try and discredit Ron Paul by misrepresenting his ideas.

Unfortunately for the people who are doing this, Google can help us find out if they are an organized group or not.

Here is the root comment that looked suspiciously like many comments that I have read, from Raw Story:

and here is another example from a YouTube comment stream:

You can find your own examples yourself. There are quite a few out there, with slightly different wording and in different contexts. A cursory search indicates that there might be a small group of people who are behind these comments. I don’t have time to research who they are with any precision. But we can do an analysis of what they are up to.

This activity is called ‘Glove Puppetry’ or more commonly Sock Puppetry.

Groups of people with an agenda to change the tone or direction of an online discussion, for money or the lulz, take on positions that are different to (opposition for money) the polar opposite of (opposition for lulz) the dominant group in a thread or stream of comments, to manipulate them, troll them and destroy any chance of a reasoned linear discussion.

Sock puppetry is also being done by the State, to try and influence public opinion. You can read about this practice in these links.

This is a very interesting subject, on many levels. Can Sock Puppetry work in the age of the internets? Google is only a click away from any instance of puppetry, so any lie can be instantly neutralised. Also, a Sock Puppet entering into a nest of people who are thinking in one way (correctly or not) cannot gain traction without being exposed as a troll and voted down where a down arrow is available. Sock Puppets do not believe what they are typing, they are working off of a script. Within one or two replies you can spot a Sock Puppet because their thinking and writing is not coherent. When the script comes to its end, all they have is ad hominem attacks, which means they lose.

We wrote about this as an example of Baudrillard’s ‘Mass’. You should read ‘In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities‘ for some insight into the difficulty of penetrating coherent groups of people who are thinking in one way, though in this case the fit is not exact.

In the meantime, now that you have these two examples, you know the format of the current organised poison trolling that is taking place wherever a Ron Paul discussion or stream of comments is in progress. I will leave it to you to find your own examples, and to discover who the source of these troll / Sock Puppet posts is.

Hopefully, if enough people find out about these Sock Puppets, their effect will be neutralised. Its good to refute the bad arguments of people who are misguided, but wasting time on Sock Puppets is not a good use of time.

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