Thursday, January 09, 2014

Internet Trolling, Doxing and CyberBullying. What’s the difference? A primer

Every so often I recycle blog posts I've written in the past if I think they're relevant to things that are occurring currently. Given my current anti-cyberbullying activity I thought it might be good to recycle this one I wrote in August 28, 2013.

I have started a new blog where I focus on the issue of CyberHarassment and the CyberBullies themselves. The idea is to illustrate actual, active CyberHarassment situations currently happening and to educate people on the things that are done. People don't always recognize real CyberHarassment and as a result it simply gets dismissed as nothing more than normal people getting into normal fights.

It isn't. It's far more than that and it needs to be understood and addressed.

I'm also letting the CyberBullies know that they aren't going to be able to engage in their activity without people knowing who they are and what they're doing. Their names, faces, and evidence of their cyberharassment activities are being published on the blog. The CyberBullies are being exposed as the criminals that they are.

One of the things that these CyberBullies like to do is claim that they're just 'trolling' and 'having some fun (lulz)'. This is simply a ruse to give themselves some Internet 'street cred' and present a 'cool' face to their abuse of innocent people. Many of whom are families, children and vulnerable adults making their behavior even more despicable.

In this blog post I'm explaining the Internet traditions of doxing, trolling, and the Hacker tradition of Social Engineering in order to demonstrate how CyberBullying is indeed different.

Internet Trolling is a tradition and art form that has existed on the Internet since discussion groups of various kinds started whether they were on bulletin boards, irc, usenet or the newer web.

The role of a Troll is to create chaos amongst those engaged in discussions, serious or not. There are numerous creative methods applied by Trolls to accomplish this goal. Subsets of Trolls are POEs and LOKIs which offer variations to the basic concept. The Trolls goal is to disrupt discussions and groups and in the process of that they might target some individuals and troll them based on their comments in the group. 

Internet Trolls may also single out particular social segments to target all over the Internet, like atheists, feminists, social activists, etc.

For example, the atheistic community has trolls who target atheistic blogs, groups, and sites. My favorite one is a person who calls him/herself TrueChristian, joins atheist groups and then starts making WestBoro Baptist Church type claims. This, of course, is guaranteed to cause outrage and lots of drama. No matter how many times you out him/her to atheists as a POE, there are always going to be a few who fall for the Trolling and get themselves all worked up. I have never and will never ban TrueChristian from any site I moderate because he/she’s just way too intelligent and entertaining.  And when he trolls me directly I troll him back.

Another rather well known Troll who targeted atheists was one that fell into the grey area between Internet Trolling and CyberBullying.

He crossed the line from one to the other when his campaigns started including death and other threats to the well-being of the individual authors of the sites he targeted. 

However, the reason his activity fit into this grey area was that his targeting objective wasn’t personal where those individuals were concerned. He was going after anyone who was an atheist.

In addition, the fact that he crossed the line into CyberBullying was actually an indication of his mental illness. His Trolling/CyberBullying stopped when he was eventually incarcerated in a Psychiatric Hospital and received the help he so obviously needed.

Generally speaking, Internet Trolls can be pretty mean, even vicious, in the process of accomplishing their goal and while they can get personal their trolling isn’t personal.

There was one debate on an atheist group that I’m a member of where two Trolls were engaged in quite a serious debate about whether I should have been categorized as a witch or a demon (biblically speaking). Things got quite heated and my only regret was that this debate did not occur in its’ own thread but was part of another discussion. It would have been easier to save. Yes I was the target and all of it was directed at me. Was the troll personal? Not really. That discussion could have been applied to any atheist on that site.

For those looking on, who understand what’s happening, it can be quite entertaining watching an intelligent Internet Troll or two in action.
CyberBullies, on the other hand, are malicious and the attacks are very personal. They target people with the intent to do maximum harm to that individual personally, professionally, and socially both online and in real life.

They accomplish this by doxing, stalking, defaming, libeling and harassing them all over the Internet. 

Does this mean that all Doxing constitutes CyberBullying? 

No, it doesn't. All Doxing isn’t CyberBullying. 

Doxing is also an Internet tradition, but it is a tradition with a very specific purpose in mind. Its’ purpose is and historically always was to identify cyberbullies, feds and other habitual troublemakers and disrupters of Internet groups and movements. That is, it was and should continue to be done for social reasons, not personal reasons. 

The doxes that are produced should only ever be published as Doxes on the Internet if the information in them has been verified to be true and the person has been given a chance to cease and desist.

Running around and abusing this process by calling people 'feds' or 'pedos' or any other 'evil' someone can fabricate when there's no actual evidence that they are, just discredits the entire process and means that no-one is going to take it seriously.

CyberBullies abuse doxes by using them as a vehicle to spread their malicious lies, misrepresentations and other forms of disinformation and misinformation.

The fact that Doxing is abused by CyberBullies to accomplish their goals of personal malicious persecution against individuals doesn’t change its’ original intent. It just means that there are those who abuse it.

In fact, it’s standard practice for CyberBullies to:
1. Use the techniques we’ve developed to deal with their bullying against us.
2. Play the victim to deflect attention back to those they targeted in the first place.
3. Accuse the victim of doing what they are doing to the victim when the victim stands up for themselves.
Amongst other things.

Their goal is personal and it is to maliciously persecute that individual, usually based on lies, half-truths, misrepresentations or exaggerations. They will also target the friends, family, and children who associate with that individual based on morally bankrupt ‘guilt by association’ claims. Friends, family and children will be used to collect ‘dirt’ on that individual so that it can be used against them during the CyberBullying campaign. They will also then be included in the CyberBullies hitlist once he/she’s done with their ‘dirt’ collection.

Every comment one makes will be taken out of context, twisted and used against the person targeted.

There is generally a ‘no holds barred’ approach by CyberBullies because these particular individuals are usually mentally ill and suffer from obsessive, narcissistic or other personality disorders, or they are psychopaths/sociopaths. All of these disorders include pathological lying and there is no line the CyberBully will not cross to destroy those individuals they’ve targeted.

They are also very likely to be stalkers and bullies in real life as well.

The deceptive strategies used by CyberBullies run from demagogic propaganda techniques like disinformation, misinformation, deleting their history of abuse, pretending to be social activists, hacktivists, teenagers, etc.  to strategies of inciting hatred and recruiting more bullies based on the lies as well as ensuring the lies are spread everywhere in order to isolate the target. The purpose of harassing associates of the target is to isolate the target from any support. Whatever they need to do to ensure that they can keep the heat off of themselves for their bullying behavior and on the person they are targeting. 

These strategies and propaganda techniques are right out of the German Stasi and KKK training manuals.

In order to give this process credibility, these CyberBullies will often claim they are 'social engineers' and are engaging in 'social engineering'. 

What is quite obvious is that they have no clue what social engineering is, what it entails, what it's used for, or how it works.

Social engineering is a hacker term which also has a tradition on the Internet. It is used specifically to obtain information like passwords, etc. which will help a hacker perform the technical task of hacking into a system. It can also be used to collect information from family and friends for a Dox, amongst other things.

CyberBullies abuse social engineering techniques and use them as vehicles to manipulate and harass people as well as incite hatred.

Identifying CyberBullies:

They make themselves obvious in various ways. Just to provide a couple:

Hypocritical statements are a good indicator that one is dealing with a CyberBully. For example, there is one active campaign currently going on where one of the members of the CyberBully group keeps pontificating self-righteously about the evils of doxing while actively participating in a CyberBullying campaign which includes unethical doxing for personal reasons and which includes defamatory libel. 

He is doing this on behalf of another person who calls himself a 'social engineer/IT expert'. This person appears to think defamatory libel and pathological lying has something to do with social engineering and his 'IT expertise' apparently doesn't include the ability to differentiate between a wordpress site and a flash site.

Patterns of behavior are another good indicator. For example, if a person has a history of CyberBullying which includes habitual unethical doxing, defamatory libel, and other forms of harassment on the Internet, it’s generally a good indicator that any altercations that they are currently engaged in have been instigated by themselves especially if the campaign follows a similar pattern to previous campaigns.

Almost all CyberBullies will claim to be Trolls and engaging in trolling. The reasons for this are quite obvious. It sounds ‘cooler’ to say you’re a troll than admit to being a cyberbully when you get caught and confronted with your abuse. There are also no laws against trolling. 

Trolling is an accepted part of Internet culture whereas CyberBullying is included in Criminal Harassment and other related laws and is a criminal offense in many countries.

This is why it’s very important for Netizens to have a solid understanding of the difference. 

Let’s not add to the confusion. 

Those who do are only helping the CyberBullies.

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