Showing posts with label Social Media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Social Media. Show all posts

June 7, 2020

Social Media Interactions on Trump and Topics Related to Murder of George Floyd

 Stories about President Trump's photo op at St. John's church after peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the area averaged the most online attention of any issue about the president this week.  Why it matters: Trump's force-over-compassion approach to the demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd had Republican allies backpedaling to keep a distance — and led to a wave of condemnations that got plenty of online traction on their own. 
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios/ Story by Neal Rothschild 
 The blowback against Trump was strong and swift all week:
While the photo op generated the most average interactions, the fallout after Twitter placed a warning label on Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" tweet for glorifying violence generated the most total interactions, according to NewsWhip data.
  • That's largely due to the volume of stories on the topic. There were 7x as many items written about Trump and Twitter and other social media platforms as there were about the stroll to St. John's.
Between the lines: Trump seemingly backed himself into a corner all week long, but gave some room for his Republican allies to stand with him in his fight against Twitter. 
  • Trump and his allies accused Twitter of overreaching and asked why similar measures weren't taken against leaders of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world.
  • He then signed an executive order aiming to shield social media companies from liability for content users post to their platforms.
  • But in private, allies warned Trump that the tweet could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported.
The bottom line: Trump's already sliding political standing does not appear to be improving. 67% think Trump has mostly increased racial tensions in the country, according to a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll.

June 5, 2019

Facebook Still Doing Lots of Constitutional Damage It Violates Our Rights Like It was Supposed to be that way

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Russian agents weaponized Facebook against American voters, unaccountable ad dollars ran rampant, and a data breach put 87 million Facebook profiles in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a Trump-connected political consultancy.

Fast-forward to 2019: For all of Facebook’s big talk about cleaning up its act, things haven’t really changed. Political ad spending is barely more transparent than it was in 2016 — and there’s still plenty of political dark money coursing through the system.

Meanwhile, the “Facebook primary” is already underway. The Trump campaign has already spent $4.8 million on the platform since the beginning of the year, a strategy that campaign manager Brad Parscale calls “shock and awe.” Former Vice President Joe Biden has spent $1 million since he declared his candidacy in late April.

Researchers who study the platform up close tell VICE News that Facebook has even weakened or disabled some of the key tools it released since 2018 to give watchdogs and academics more insight into what’s happening, such as:
  • Cracking down on the use of “scraping” tools on its Ad Library, making it more difficult to collect data in bulk, and forcing researchers to search the huge database manually.
  • Limiting the number of searches an account can make in the Ad Library; researchers can’t keep up with the number of new ads flooding in.
  • Facebook’s API for political ads still doesn’t include the videos or photos in ads or show how advertisers are targeting users.
As a result, we still know little about how Facebook advertisers can target specific segments of users with highly tailored messages based on their personal data. Experts worry that, once again, Facebook holds the power to deepen the existing divisions in American culture — and it won’t reveal how it wields that power.

September 16, 2018

Passing As Someone Else on Social Media to Have Sex with Target Girl, Rape?

Man who tricked woman into having blindfolded sex by pretending to be high school friend loses appeal
 Michael Kelso-Christy . (AP)

This story is included on the weekend stories because it teaches an important lesson about rape and impersonating on the internet, Particularly because the situation started through someone saying he was someone else through Facebook.  Facebook have totally ignored the need to have people vetted somehow so not to have more than one account and not to pass as someone else. This happens all the time and it usually start when someone asking to be friended and the person being ask does not bother to question why someone who is supposed to be n adult is showing a picture of  a baby or kid. Those are the easy ones to catch even many people go ahead and accept them. I just had a guy ask who is oriental showing a picture from a caucassian. The hardest one is  when they show you a picture of someone is not them but it could be them or have an empty page(turn down!) How about if they claim they are your friend from high school and because of the information we put out without restricting our audience, there is someone who passes as someone you knew years back. 

This guy who knew enough about a girl in Facebook he was able passed as her ex boyfriend in high school.
What happens if they have sex?  Is it rape? That is the other point I would like the readers to be aware of the circumstances.

Michael Kelso-Christy (above pictured)was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the felony conviction Friday of a man who tricked a woman into having sex with him by convincing her through social media that he was an old high school friend.
Michael Kelso-Christy, 23, had argued that Iowa law doesn't outlaw sex by fraud or deception, but he was eventually convicted of burglary, a charge that also can include entering a home with intent to commit sexual abuse. Prosecutors said he set up a fake Facebook account in April 2015 under the name of the woman's classmate. Through messages that became increasingly sexual, the woman eventually agreed to a sexual encounter wherein the man would arrive at her home while she was blindfolded and restrained. She said the man didn't speak during the encounter and left her handcuffed. 
The woman grew suspicious when text messages stopped and the Facebook profile became inactive. She determined the next day, through mutual contacts, that the man who arrived at her home wasn't her former classmate. She immediately contacted the sheriff's office and reported an assault.
Kelso-Christy was linked to the crime through a phone number he gave the woman and a fingerprint found at her home. Investigators determined he'd used a similar social media scheme with several women, and the man Kelso-Christy was pretending to be testified that several men were angry with him for soliciting sex from their wives or girlfriends.
Kelso-Christy was initially charged with sex abuse, but the charge was later dropped. He was later convicted during a bench trial of burglary and sentenced to 10 years in prison, with the judge saying consent inherently requires knowledge of the identity of a sexual partner.
Kelso-Christy appealed, arguing that the sexual encounter was consensual and he therefore didn't intend to commit sexual abuse as outlined under the burglary charge.
But in the majority opinion released Friday, Iowa Supreme Court justices said Kelso-Christy knew the woman never consented to physical contact with him.
"The identity of a sexual partner is no mere collateral matter. Women, and men, must be free to decide, on their own terms, who their sexual partners will be," Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote for the majority, further concluding that Kelso-Christy's actions denied the woman "the freedom of choice that breathes life into our sexual abuse statutes."
Justices David Wiggins and Brent Appel dissented, saying Iowa's second-degree burglary law does not specifically provide for sexual abuse by fraud or deception. Wiggins wrote: "We must not write words into the statute."
Iowa Department of Corrections records show Kelso-Christy is imprisoned in Fort Dodge. His attorney, Assistant Appellate Defender Melinda Nye, said Kelso-Christy was disappointed in Friday's ruling and has "challenged the applicability of Iowa's sex abuse statutes to his case since he was charged." She said he'll decide later whether to pursue further appeals.
The prosecutor did not immediately respond to messages.

AP and NY Daily News

December 12, 2017

"Social Media is Ripping the Country Apart" Former FaceBook Exec

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.

Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” said Palihapitiya. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.” He later adds, though, that he believes the company “overwhelmingly does good in the world.”

Palihapitiya’s remarks follow similar statements of contrition from others who helped build Facebook into the powerful corporation it is today. In November, early investor Sean Parker said he has become a “conscientious objector” to social media, and that Facebook and others had succeeded by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” A former product manager at the company, Antonio Garcia-Martinez, has said Facebook lies about its ability to influence individuals based on the data it collects on them and wrote a book, Chaos Monkeys, about his work at the firm.

These former employees have all spoken out at a time when worry about Facebook’s power is reaching fever pitch. In the past year, concerns about the company’s role in the US election and its capacity to amplify fake news have grown, while other reports have focused on how the social media site has been implicated in atrocities like the “ethnic cleansing” of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group.

In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook but Silicon Valley’s entire system of venture capital funding. He said that investors pump money into “shitty, useless, idiotic companies,” rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease. Palihapitiya currently runs his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education.

Palihapitiya also notes that although tech investors seem almighty, they’ve achieved their power more through luck than skill. “Everybody’s bullshitting,” he said. “If you’re in a seat, and you have good deal flow, and you have precious capital, and there’s a massive tailwind of technological change ... Over time you get one of the 20 [companies that become successful] and you look like a genius. And nobody wants to admit that but that’s the fucking truth.”

June 29, 2017

"America's Sex Life Exposed" (The things You Learn From Google Searches)

One of the most puzzling parts of the information I get as a webmaster (I aways wanted to call myself that) is when I see on a daily basis the Search queries. Never understood them but they are 90% sexual. For a site that is openly media and news oriented, why someone wants the "biggest dildo" etc. I have no idea.     *Adam

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a former Google data scientist and Harvard economics Ph.D., spent five years combing through data on U.S. Google searches to learn more about people’s thoughts and behaviors. In recent interviews surrounding the release of his new book Everybody Lies, he has shared insights into gay and bi men’s sex lives. Here are some of his findings:

1. Five percent of men are predominantly attracted to men

By looking at porn-related searches across the U.S., Stephens-Davidowitz came to the conclusion that many men have same-sex sexual fantasies, even if most never act on them.
“It’s clear that a lot of gay men remain in the closet,” Stephens-Davidowitz recently told Vox. “In places where it’s hard to be gay, such as Mississippi, far fewer men say that they are gay than in places where it’s easy to be gay, such as New York.”

2. Gay porn searches are about the same everywhere.

While a recent infographic from the porn tube site PornHub revealed the kinds of gay porn that people search for most, Stephens-Davidowitz says that roughly the same amount of people search for gay porn no matter where they are.
This is interesting because it flies in the face of previous research concluding that red southern states with anti-gay laws seek out gay porn more often than gay-friendly blue states.

3. Many men are closeted and married (and their wives suspect it)

Considering that an estimated 21 percent of straight men watch gay porn (and a smaller number participate in same-sex “buddy sex” without considering themselves gay or bisexual), it’s no wonder that many gay and bi men are closeted and married.
Stephens-Davidowitz came to this conclusion by cross-referencing men’s gay porn searches with women’s searches asking how to tell if their husbands are gay.
He said, “Women are eight times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is an alcoholic and 10 times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is depressed.”
But, he adds, “I think women are too obsessed with their husbands’ sexuality…. It is far more likely that a woman is married to a man who is secretly an alcoholic or secretly depressed than secretly gay.”

4. Men are super insecure about their penis size and premature ejaculation

In a video interview with Buzzfeed (above), Stephens-Davidowitz said, “Men make searches about their penises than any other body part by far…. For every 100 searches men make about their penis, they make about five about their own brain.” He said the second most common search for men is how to last longer in bed.
Stephens-Davidowitz says that women make as many searches about their genitals as men, except while men search for results on “small penis”, women search for “smelly vagina.”

5. Fear of sex may be causing us to be having less of it

“In general,” he said, “this whole data kinda shows us that there’s a whole lot of not talking going on where … things that should be conversations with your partner instead are questions on the internet.”
Stephens-Davidowitz says that people have “overwhelming” anxiety and insecurity about sex. He thinks if we lowered the anxiety around sex, we’d all be having more of it.
(Featured image by palantir via iStock Photography)

October 10, 2015

Looking for Love? Not much in Social Media


Do You like my tattoos? I woke up with them one day I got drunk on Social

You’re all done up and out at the bar, chatting up a fine eligible match. Red wine, tapas and laughter; things are going swell. And then he mentions, between small plates, that he doesn’t actually have an account on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any of that social media jazz. He is disconnected, which you find curious, even alarming. What is he hiding that he’s keeping off Facebook? Is he actually married with five kids? Is that not his real name? Is he on the sexual predator list? What’s wrong with him?

And then you realize: Wait a minute, that’s kinda super-hot.

In a world where selfies have gone from a teen-girl indulgence to something the machoest dudes stock their Tinders with, and keeping up with the Joneses has taken on a compulsive edge that drives tiny computers into our hands before we brush our teeth each morning, finding someone who simply sits out of the whole digital courtship game can be refreshing and extraordinarily appealing. So we’ve got a wild, against-the-grain tip for future courtships: Disconnect to get a date.

Sure, social media is great for meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, or maybe one-night stands … but what about love? What about the next level beyond networking? Studies now show that in spite of our 1,000-plus “friends,” social media in fact makes us feel lonelier, and turns our behavior less sociable. What’s sorrier is that when surveyed, 22 percent of people said they would give up sex before they’d give up their cellphone (?!?!?!). And for those already in relationships, social media is a fast-growing threat. Therapists at the charity Relationships Ireland found that the vast majority of couples seeking professional marriage counseling cite Facebook as a major factor in cracking up the marriage, and we’ve already told you about another study that found 32 percent of heavy Facebook users consider leaving their spouse.

Not that we need a statistically significant study to tell us that Facebook can cause a boatload of drama: Anecdotes of this type are a modern staple of cocktail conversation. “I stay off Facebook these days,” one man mentioned on Date 2. Summarizing with an utterly modern euphemism for “I got caught,” he continued: “It caused me a lot of problems in my last relationship.” Oops. “We are living in an age of anxiety,” notes Breanna McEwan, a communications professor at Western Illinois University. Although most people use social media, “we are still very concerned about the effects these new technologies might have upon us” — enough for us to consider social media prenups. With anxiety and worry two of the least sexy tendencies on earth, maybe the key is simply not playing the game.

Of course, our friends at Facebook might disagree. McEwan notes that someone who doesn’t use social media is “our generation’s ’80s family that doesn’t have a television.” She warns, “They may seem superior, but many of us don’t make that choice for ourselves.” Gwendolyn Seidman, chair of the psychology department at Albright College, notes that it might seem too strange these days, suggesting people might think a disconnected mate was “socially abnormal in a negative way.”

Still, find us a study that proves that. (Seidman, McEwan and a host of other experts haven’t seen one yet.) Until then, we’ll keep flipping our hair around these modern unicorns. Too bad, of course, we won’t be able to share this article with them.

Disconnected: Is it hot or not? Let us know in the comments.



The Facebook Sergeant looking for someone to….??
 This is one of the pictures Richard (the Sergeant) sent. He wanted John
to be the Executor of his will and thus needed
financial information from John. When John refused
Richard(name given) lost his magazine of bullets in names he called John t.hen block john from his Facebook account. John was just relief
John Lovey has tried the two major social sites (Facebook, Google) since the last time he became single about 7 years ago. He ended up having terrible experiences particularly in Facebook. Lovey is a private person so he has discreetly let people know in the past that he is single and have added a few facts about him and always included a recent picture ( no older than a year in average). 

Some have figured out and contacted him in other cases, He’s contacted the guy with a profile that that said single and seemed to be looking. He’s been attentive and immediately answered  in times which he was contacted and He’s let them down very gently when they are not for him. He felt thankful that they decided to try him out. Whether he contacted someone in Facebook or was contacted by someone, He figured the experiences had been around 95% negative. Some have lead him on and established a friendship to meet and travel. Others have agreed to meet him when they live in his city( again being careful since this the main way gay haters get guys to beat up and is as common as white bread).  Most of those particularly the ones that talked about traveling to meet up turned out the worse. 

There is an experience of one establishing a relationship but then would come up with an emergency or a need from a relative to ask for money to help them out. Once a soldier who was a sergeant about to retire or so he said, sent him documents  where he was and how much he made (He checked the rank and the salary was correct so he was sure the guy was at least a soldier or had been one). 
This soldier told him he was being sent to Afghanistan and he said he would call him from there.

He called him as promised supposedly from there but now needed Lovey’s bank account number and particulars because he wanted to send his money to Lovey’s account and also wanted to named him as executor of his estate in case he was killed. No need to say that Lovey turn him down. He called him all types of derogatory names and said Lovey had no heart that he would not help a soldier in the field. He laid it out strong like he was a victim he also black him out on Facebook so he could not inquire anymore about him. Someone with a weak heart and strong sentiment would probably fallen for the part of helping the soldier out and allow him to put money in, he was not taking out according to the soldier, he was so nice and trusting he wanted to put money in.  I’m sure this has worked with others otherwise it wouldn’t be happening. I mean everything seemed on the level, he would sent pictures that were supposed to be live and other information without Lovey asking for it. All along he had a feeling something was not right so when he made his move Lovey was ready. This is someone who asked him to friend him on Facebook.

 On Google + are the guys from poor countries particularly Philippines and Jacarta. They go all the way to try to get someone to bring them to the States. Other are too far to even consider or with wrong pictures which don’t match their age when they slip and give it to you. 

As the tittle says John Lovey gave up a long time ago. He still in the social media as a business, but nothing more. He no longer disclose being single and never say He’s looking to date. He had positive experiences way back in the age of chat rooms divided by city and state. He says he got many dates that didn’t turn into relationships but got to meet friends and once in a while got his rocks off as a release. Now is very different. You never know for sure where that guy might be. Phone numbers with area codes mean nothing and this is the age of throw away cell phones.

John Lovey is not the real name who’s real story Im posting above. Everything is true as said by John Lovey except the name. If there is a John Lovey out there he is not the guy in the story. The name change is to protect the innocent. If this picture is recognized by someone it will be nice to know and find out if Richard pulled this stunt with others or he was just psychotic wanting to pull a fast one because maybe he thought John was beneath him? Not smart enough?
On a positive way social media is great for news (if you know how to weed out rumors) and to make contact with people in other nations that only want to chat and learn about gay people here in the US.
So if you are looking for love may be any sight but a social site might be better. Make sure you are honest if you expect honesty. A picture and  state and even the city is very helpful and is a sign you have nothing baad to hide. When you are on social media you are in Central Park on a weekend at 8pm. You could bump into anybody, your job is to stay safe by taking everything with a grain of salt and until proven. He says is Undetectable or Negative? When the time comes for intimacy don’t be shy in asking for the piece of paper that certifies what he says he is. Asking many questions is always good and it makes people with bad intentions to get nervous and want to walk away from you, which is the purpose after all. Having your picture in undies on social media and saying you want something serious is an oxymoron. If you wan tot show off, fine but when looking for someone those pictures say many thousand words. Even if you pay a studio is money well spent; Just don’t over do it.
Good luck and may you find all the love you deserve!

Adam Gonzalez

April 28, 2015

Anonymity, Offensive behavior without dangers of the black eye: The Internet Troll

The internet and social media has become power for those too scared or uninterested to make their views known in public. Also to those who do not have an opinion on most things because that would require knowledge and knowledge requires reading and searching. That is work! They are too lazy for that but given an internet connection, a chair and suddenly they are “Superman” like some of their shirts say. They can put words together and can be for Hitler and Mother Theresa simultaneously. 
It doesn’t matters they are only words and nobody is going to hold them accountable. True, some have even come to the point of loosing their lives by being recognized by a neighbor, coworker, student who is been deeply offended and quietly has planned to put a knife or bullet in a stranger in which neither victim nor perp know each well enough to shake a hand or say hello. 

Suddenly these trolls have power and they find a way to get more through the same ladder of words which eventually gives them the power not only to express theirs or some else’s outrageous views but the power to delete and disapproved of other people’s views. 

Welcome to the world of free candy. The social services are responsible for the birth of the “Internet troll.” A good example of this is FaceBook. At one time promising accountability and rights and duties of members it has for a while now taken down it’s shorts to show what’s underneath and what one finds is emptiness. There is no profit in having people be identified on a social network because all they need is for anyone to watch the commercials which make them money. Real names and pics does not come to the equation.
This report goes further than just Facebook or to point out what we already know but to show you the real”troll” Who is he (she)?
There are many types of people in the age of social media, there are *computer users who take refuge in anonymity to post extreme or offensive views. 
*Jamie Bartlett (on BBC Magazine ) wanted to talk to the people behind the masks. 
My heart was pounding as I waited for Paul to arrive at the train station where we'd agreed to meet. I'd been communicating with him for some time, all via the internet. Paul was a vitriolic, aggressive neo-Nazi who spent his life online producing and sharing White Pride propaganda. 
He was one of several people that I spent much of the last year meeting while researching my book. I'd gone in search of shocking and hidden internet subcultures, immersing myself in digital worlds of self-harming, of drugs markets, of internet trolls, of convicted online sex offenders, of digital neo-Nazis. 
We often hear in the news about these dangers of life online. But the protagonists in these strange underworlds are always missing from the story. I wanted to find, meet and understand the people behind the screen. That's why I'd come to see Paul. 
Fifteen minutes late, a handsome, friendly and earnest young man rocked up - excited to meet Jamie "who I've seen off the telly". He had tattoos, true, but of the trendy variety that climb up necks towards faces, rather than scowl menacingly from thick forearms. 
Was this really the digital iconoclast who earlier that day had been attacking and terrifying minorities from behind his sinister looking avatar? Because this Paul was good company - polite, attentive and quick to laugh. We got on very well. 
Jamie Bartlett
Jamie Bartlett is director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media - this article was originally broadcast for BBC Radio 4 as part of the Four Thought series.
Paul and I spent the day walking around his mid-sized, depressed, Northern town and he told me about his life. In 2011, Paul didn't care about politics. He preferred clubbing. 
Then he heard about the anti-Islamist protest group the English Defence League after one of his mates had "liked" them on Facebook. He "liked" them too and started contributing by writing comments on their Facebook page. 
Paul has a sharp wit, and is good with words. Within a few weeks he'd been invited to become the administrator of an EDL Facebook group, which gave him the power to delete other people's posts, resolve disputes, and manage the group. (This job, by the way, usually shortened to "admin", is an increasingly important one in modern politics). 
Being an admin was possibly the most meaningful position Paul had ever held. People listened to him. He had some respect, power, affirmation. He loved it and spent most of the day there. He devoured articles that others in his group had posted, or that he found himself, about the danger Islam posed to the UK. 
He started attacking Muslims on other Facebook pages, and they attacked him back. Each side polarising and radicalising the other. Paul was living in an exciting Manichean world of friends and enemies, right and wrong - in which he was the chief protagonist. Within a couple of years, he was calling Anders Breivik, the far right terrorist who murdered 77 people in Oslo in 2011, a "hero". 
One evening he walked past a group of EDL supporters - an unusual scene in his small town. But he didn't speak to them. Online he was a respected member of the nationalist scene, with friends and supporters from all over the world. The real Paul was an unemployed, nervous thirtysomething living alone. Little wonder he kept his head down, walked past, and logged back on to his computer. 
EDL demonstrators
The EDL relies on social media to recruit followers
There were two Pauls, and that allowed him to behave online in ways he wouldn't have offline. This phenomenon was first spotted in 2001 by the psychologist John Suler. He called it the "online disinhibition effect". 
From behind a screen we don't look at or even think about the people we communicate with, and so feel strangely free from the social mores, norms and rules that ordinarily govern our behaviour. 
Perhaps the most disinhibited of all is the internet troll - those people who take pleasure in offending or insulting strangers via the net. "Trolling" has become shorthand for any nasty or threatening behaviour online. But there is much more to trolling than abuse. 
Zack is in his early 30s, and speaks with a soft Thames Estuary accent. I met him in a pub, where he immediately struck me as one of those sharp, thoughtful, well-read autodidacts - tinged with natural shyness. 
He's been trolling strangers for a decade. 
"Trolling is not about bullying people," he explained. "It's about unlocking situations, creating new scenarios, pushing boundaries, trying ideas out, calculating the best way to provoke a reaction."
Zack has spent years refining his tactics. His favourite technique is to join an online forum of a group he doesn't like, intentionally make basic grammatical or spelling mistakes, wait for someone to insult his writing, and then try to lock them into a brutal argument about politics. 
He showed me one recent example. He'd posted an innocuous, poorly written comment on a popular right-wing website, complaining that right-wingers wouldn't be right-wing if they read more. An incensed user responded, and posted a nude picture that Zack had uploaded to an obscure forum using the same pseudonym some time before. Zack then posted a series of explicit videos of himself interspersed with insults about right-wingers and quotes from Shakespeare and Cervantes. 
Zack told me this was a win. "He was so incapable of a coherent response that he resorted to digging into my posting history for things he thought would shame me, but I'm not easily shamed, haha."
"But I thought you were trying to expose far right groups?" I asked.
"By posting the naked photos the discussion drew attention from across the site," he replied. "That is what trolling is all about - creating a scene in order to get more people to think about the issue being raised."
"And do you think you succeeded?" I asked. 
"I dunno, but it was fun." 

Dealing with trolls

Shifty-looking man in front of computer screen
"As the months wore on, he became utterly obsessed. He started posting links full of abuse to my wife, mother and work colleagues. My newborn son even garnered a few mentions."
There are many species of troll. Some like to bully strangers to make themselves feel good. Others get caught in the mob mentality, relentlessly targeting someone to fit in with the digital pack. 
But for the thoughtful ones like Zack, it's a mixture of sport, philosophy and - admittedly peculiar - political activism. Zack, you see, thinks people need to be tough and independent, to take responsibility for their actions. 
He fears a silent and obedient society, where everyone takes themselves too seriously, and is too easily offended. This leads to self-censorship, and the death of free expression. Trolls like Zack see it as their role to prod and probe the boundaries of offensiveness to keep society alert. 
Sometimes online disinhibition takes people places they didn't plan. Like Michael, an approachable but serious man in his 50s, who's happily married with one daughter. "A successful business man, and a completely normal heterosexual bloke" is how he described himself. 
Just before I met him, Michael had been convicted of possessing 3,000 illegal images of children on his computer hard drive - mostly girls aged between six and 16.
Like many people convicted of possessing illegal child abuse images, Michael had stumbled into this wickedness. He says he started by viewing legal pornography - women in their early 20s - but kept being offered automatic pop-up windows of girls aged 15-18. This incidentally is more common that most of us would like to admit - "teen" and "young" are the most popular search terms in legal pornography. 
At some point Michael clicked, and kept clicking. Over the course of a few years he slowly descended - to 14, then 13, then 12. And kept going. "It happened in tiny increments," he told me, with tears in his eyes. "I really don't remember when I moved from teens to children."

More from the Magazine

Man and computer - illustration by Nick Lowndes
It was the UK's biggest ever computer crime investigation. Thousands of people were accused of downloading images of child abuse - some were found to be innocent. The legacy is controversial. Thirteen years after the raids began, has Operation Ore really changed the UK? 
Michael considered himself a deeply moral man, and repeated several times that he'd never harm or hurt anyone, especially not a child. "It didn't seem real," he said. "They always looked like they were not being harmed. I made excuses in my head as to why it was OK. [For a while I told myself what I was doing wasn't even illegal]." He'd become so inured to the images he was viewing, perhaps so addicted, that he'd lost his moral compass, while lying to himself that he still held it firm. 
"Why was it so easy for me to find?" he asked me, just before I left the cafe. "If it hadn't been for the internet, I never would have even thought about this stuff." I think he was genuine. With incremental steps, it's easier than you think to end up somewhere you had no intention of going. 
"Technology is neither good nor bad," Kranzberg's First Law of Technology tells us, "but nor is it neutral." The internet lowers barriers, making it easier to sate every curiosity, to make it less difficult to say and do things we wouldn't in real life. Sometimes that allows us to explore deeply held desires, sometimes it stimulates behaviour that otherwise would have remained dormant. Often it's somewhere in-between. 
I'm not making excuses for these people. I'm aware of the misery they have caused, and that whatever the internet has allowed, in the end they are responsible for their actions and behaviour. Whether they know it or not, these people have caused devastation for others. And certainly there are far worse characters hiding online than these three, using the anonymity the net provides to destroy people's lives. 
But they aren't always the evil demons you might imagine. It's important to understand how people end up where they do, without condoning what they do. That may help us limit the damage they cause. 
But it's not just them - it's us too. In his essay Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell wrote of being confronted with an enemy who was fleeing while trying to hold up his falling trousers. "I had come here to shoot at 'Fascists'," he wrote, "but a man who is holding up his trousers isn't a 'Fascist', he is visibly a fellow-creature, similar to yourself." 
Most of the chief protagonists in my book I met online first, and offline second. I always liked them more in the real world. By removing the face-to-face aspect of human interaction, the internet dehumanises people, and our imagination often turns them into inflated monsters, more terrifying because they are in the shadows. 
For me, at least, meeting them in person re-humanised complex, awkward, and usually annoyingly likeable people. Next time you come across a digital monster, remember there is a person behind the avatar, and he or she is unlikely to be how you imagine. 
As Paul and I said goodbye that grey and grim November afternoon, I stood a while and watched him wander sadly towards his equally grey and grim block of flats. As the train rushed me back to my self-satisfied life of friends and fulfilment and promise I received a text. "Great to meet you Jamie, I really enjoyed it." 
"Me too," I replied. And I meant it.
This article is based on an edited transcript of Jamie Bartlett’s Four Thought. 

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