If You Give Trolls a Purpose, Do They Cease to Be Trolls?

By Sarah Lacy , written on July 20, 2012

From The News Desk

Are you one of those people who feels everyone in life has a purpose? Then you are going to love this story, because the US government has found a use for trolls.

That's right -- trolls may actually have a reason to exist other than bugging the living shit out of everyone else to ever visit a blog, YouTube, or any social media site. I hate them; you hate them. Millions of dollars have been invested in content systems to eliminate them, but like the cockroaches of the Internet they find their way back in with their "UR GAY" or worse.

Their stupid insults have a way of burrowing into your brain and sitting there like a parasite. It doesn't matter how much you tell yourself they are just seeking attention or are pathetic lonely little anonymous cowards. There's something about human nature where cruelty from anyone -- even a horrible, miserable troll -- just lingers on your emotional state.

You can always tell a blogger who reads too may trolly comments because he hears them in his head when he's trying to write. The result is a sentence like "NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SAY BUT READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE FIRST..."

So, why not make trolls work for us? That what the US Government is considering.

From a NSFW Corp. article yesterday:

"US State Department technology adviser Shahed Amanullah has established a programme called Viral Peace, under which gangs of specially trained trolls will be sent to infiltrate, and bug the bejeebers out of, websites and social media conversations which promote and/or permit extremist and/or terrorist views. Simply put, Amanullah proposes to pwn the jihad.

Or, as he put it to Wired, to use “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.”

Amanullah’s idea is, as yet, half-formed, and under-funded. But it is nevertheless brilliant." I agree. And it has me thinking what else we could mobilize trolls to do. They could be the new mechanical turks of curbing bad behavior through passive aggressive anonymous nagging. For instance, if trolls could somehow follow me around and whenever I start to eat a doughnut and make an obnoxious comment, I'm pretty sure at some point, that doughnut wouldn't be worth the hassle. Ditto calling my mother every week.

Of course, if you give trolls a job and a purpose, they may get the confidence and self-worth to come out of their parents' basements, see the sunshine, stop hating people who have achieved more than they have and hence, they'd stop being trolls. I'm fine with that outcome too.

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