Trolling The Trolls

Why should Nazis, creeps and misogynists have all the fun?

Feature | by Suzy Q Funk

The Internet is dangerous territory for women. Not only do we have to deal with harassment from jerks and creeps, but the systems are actually set up to catch vulnerable groups “bullying” more powerful groups. Case in point: you may have seen an article going around about people getting banned on Facebook for sharing a meme with the forbidden phrase “all men are trash”.

I’m here to tell you it’s true. I actually got a three-day Facebook ban for a status that said “all men are terrific”.

Meanwhile, comments that threaten  women with rape and violence  are left up. Not a violation!

Since the authorities can’t (or don’t care to) protect us, we must learn to take care of ourselves. It’s actually quite a refreshing change from the real world — where women are expected to be nice at all costs — to exist in a realm where we can be jerks to the jerks, creep the creeps and troll the trolls. The Internet anonymity cuts both ways.

Recently I caught the attention of a local buy-and-sell page admin who likes to make racist comments on people’s items for sale, then follow them home to their personal timeline, steal their photos and repost them with unflattering captions. So I baited him back to my personal timeline, teased him into making violent threats and racist remarks, then used his personal photos to make memes of his own comments. Soon, total strangers were sending me screenshots of a post he made, seeking personal information about my job, my address, my phone number, so he could take his bullying to the real world. Numerous people reported this post to Facebook, and police laughed me out of the station when I tried to make a report — the only person who suffered any consequence was me. I got a seven-day ban from Facebook for altering his profile photos to make my memes.

Nobody is their “real self” online — even the most authentic people are creating an ideal persona to project to their friends and family, and in the anonymous world of forums and groups, you can be anyone you want to be. Why not create a self who isn’t scared of trolls? Remember, they’re just people too, hiding behind a screen, and the ones who have the energy to be bullies online are those who don’t have too much going on in real life.

Trolling is a misunderstood game. A troll isn’t just someone who annoys you; it’s someone who deliberately annoys you with the intent of getting an emotional response from you. The stronger the emotional response, the more “lulz” the troll gets, so if you want to play this game, you need to be in control of your own emotions.

The simplest troll is the edgelord, who says the worst thing possible in an effort to make people angry. Concern trolls pretend to worry about you or about a serious issue in order to elicit a more subtle response — the frustration people feel when a know-it-all tells them what to do. My favourite are the absurd trolls, who say just completely random things to confuse people.

If you plan to troll misogynists, prepare yourself for a lot of unwelcome dicks. The point of an unsolicited dick pic isn’t primarily sexual; it’s used as a weapon to elicit disgust and shock. The purpose of trolling is to elicit an emotional response, so if you react the way they intended, you lose. Respond with another dick pic, turn the photo into a work of art, tell him his toilet’s dirty and that he should clean his room — anything other than the anger or disgust they tried to get from you — and the image loses its power to hurt you and becomes a tool to embarrass him.

The modern art form of memes has turned the playground trick of repeating what someone said in a silly voice into a powerful visual attack. Just copy/paste their rude comment, grab a photo that reminds you of them and slap it on there, and in five minutes or less you have a bully meme that will drive them crazy. The stupider it is and the more you repeat it, the madder they’ll get.

Sure, it’s childish, but if they didn’t want their face photoshopped onto a bowl of soup and posted all over the group they love so much, they shouldn’t have made that rape threat.

Suzy Q. Funk is the Nom De ’Net of a Saskatchewan-based woman who’s proudly been banned from Facebook “probably 10 times”.


Trolling 101

Wondering how to be the best troll you can be? Here are a few tips. Good luck! /Suzy Q. Funk

1 TROLLING ISN’T FAIR Just because someone breaks a rule himself doesn’t mean he won’t report you for breaking the same rule. This isn’t a fair fight, so be prepared for dirty tricks. Don’t swear, use slurs, or make threats or jokes about murder or suicide (rape threats seem to be allowed — I’ve reported many without success). I’ve seen many people get unfairly banned for “nice” uses of “naughty” words — for example, quoting the slur that someone used against you.

2 NAME THE PROBLEM Facebook’s real name policy is meant to prevent bullying, but name reports are often used to silence vulnerable people who use a false name for reasons of privacy or personal identity: victims of stalking or domestic violence, people in sensitive careers such as teaching or nursing, and transgender folks who suffer real harm from being forced to use their deadname. If you decide to use a false name, choose a “normal” name to limit the risk.

3 MORE NAME PROBLEMS If you use someone’s name and they report the comment, it’s accepted as bullying (even if you said something nice!). I once got banned for making a meme from screenshots of someone’s abusive and racist comments. He didn’t get banned for saying terrible things — I got banned for quoting him, because his name was on the screenshots.

4 MUG NOTS It’s forbidden to alter someone’s profile pic, so choose another image to meme: a photo of his car, a pun on his name, a vegetable that reminds you of him. Don’t overthink it too much — the worse the meme is, the more annoying it will be.

5 WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE The reportbots can’t detect violations of language rules if you misspell. Deliberate misspelling is also very annoying to your targets – especially if you consistently spell their name wrong. Correcting someone’s grammar and spelling is childish but effective. Bonus points for incorrectly correcting them. This is completely infuriating.

6 NUDITY REPORTS Misogynists reduce women to sex objects, so they often go creeping your photos looking for ways to insult you and may report even innocent photos for nudity. Lock your photos down in privacy settings. If you do get reported for nudity, always file an appeal —the rules are vague and nudity bans are frequently reversed.