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Trolling Al Qaeda... For Peace? 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the forty-second-godwin-bridage dept.
The Mister Purple writes "There is a small initiative underway to combat Islamic militant recruiting on the Internet... by trolling them. Quoting the article: 'The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department and Viral Peace's creator, tells Danger Room he wants to use "logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them." Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage.' So, does this mean that I'm promoting peace when I post YouTube comments?"
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Trolling Al Qaeda... For Peace?

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  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:25PM (#40690733)

    Because pissing people off is an effective way to get them to leave you alone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Confusion is a great tactic. Make them so mad they can't think straight, and you reduce their total effectiveness.

      See also political arguments, religious arguments, battle of the sexes, etc etc.

      • Re:Right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by flyneye (84093) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:50PM (#40693925) Homepage

        There are no "tactics" that will work with any of the invincibly ignorant.
        Take for instance, extreme Westboro Baptists, who have been reasoned with, taunted, stalked, given a voice in the press, ridiculed on t.v., forced to protest behind barriers of "Patriot Guard" bikers, and generally opposed in both good and bad ways, still they carry on....Nothing works that doesn't make you a lower scumbag than them.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        The problem is religious extremists really need deprogramming not trolling. We are talking about people that will strap a bomb to their chest and die with a smile on their face because of what some goat herder wrote on a piece of sheep's ass a thousand years ago. Now just think about that for a minute, a guy that has been dead for over a thousand years tells you that if you die for the sky bully you'll be pimped out in paradise....and you listen.

        I'm sorry but until we can get people to accept those stories

        • Re:Right (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Crosshair84 (2598247) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:49AM (#40696833)
          Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

          These people are not blowing themselves up BECAUSE of their religion, that does play some part into it yes, but that is not the main driving reason. I paid attention in history class, I don't remember Muslims sending fire ships into New York Harbor in the 1880's. I don't remember suicide car bombings in the 1930's. I remember some piracy off their shores and that was about it. If religion was the DRIVING force we would have seen these past events, but we don't.

          The reason they attack us today is because for the last 50 years we have been meddling in their internal affairs. We have installed/propped up dictators who have brutalized and oppressed their people for decades. They know that until the US has been driven from the region they will not have self rule. The purpose of 9/11 was to get the US more deeply involved and more easily attacked. They have told us their goals repeatedly, bankrupt the US Soviet Union style to force it to leave the region forever.

          Why the suicide attacks? Because the US supported/influenced tyrants have made life so miserable that these people have nothing to lose. If they lined up as a regular army they know they would get slaughtered, so why not just go for a suicide attack and do far more damage. Either method ends in death. Self rule is worth dying for, so they make the very rational choice to sacrifice themselves for the future of their people to have the ability to rule themselves. If the roles were reversed you'd see Americans lining up around the corner to strap on the bomb belts for the same reasons and you and I would be cheering them on for their bravery.
      • That is clear to me. Telling Al Qaeda that you're trolling them is the less clear part.

      • by mrex (25183)

        >Confusion is a great tactic. Make them so mad they can't think straight, and you reduce their total effectiveness.

        It's a great tactic in war, not so much as a way for the civilian public to operate in peacetime, against other civilians.

        The most likely consequence of ruining discussions on the public internet is simply to move those discussions off the public internet, which then becomes solely an outlet for both sides' contrived propaganda, robbing the public of the value of watching and participating i

    • Re:Right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:39PM (#40690937)

      Because pissing people off is an effective way to get them to leave you alone.

      It's not designed to work on the nuts, it's designed to work on the ones the nuts are trying to recruit.

      Making the nuts look like idiots hurts their recruiting.

      • Re:Right (Score:5, Funny)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:59PM (#40691191)

        It's not designed to work on the nuts

        NUT ON! APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE NUTS!

      • Re:Right (Score:5, Funny)

        by russotto (537200) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:04PM (#40691251) Journal

        It's not designed to work on the nuts, it's designed to work on the ones the nuts are trying to recruit.

        Right... the nuts are working on stirring up the mark's religious fervor, and inserting "Penis" in the middle of the conversation sort of ruins the mood.

      • Re:Right (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:39PM (#40691613)

        It worked when Superman defeated the KKK. They gave out the secret codes etc and made them look so childish that members became ashamed to associate, and to this day many people think of the KKK as childish, uneducated, illiterate fools.

      • Re:Right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:30PM (#40692071)

        You know the religious fanatics who stand in the middle of college campuses shouting at everyone passing by that the end of the world is coming, and they're all going to Hell, and generally making fools of themselves? And you know how people laugh at them, or shout back at them, or make jokes about them to the crowd, or point out loudly what absurd fools they are?

        That's exactly what they want to happen.

        You see, they aren't targeting those people who stand around and laugh at them. But somewhere in the crowd is someone who feels sorry for them. Someone who knows perfectly well they're a religious fanatic, but that still doesn't give people the right to laugh at them. And so afterward that person will go up and talk to the religious fanatic, just to be polite, just to say, "I wasn't one of the people laughing at you, and I don't approve of them doing it."

        And that is who they're really targeting. That person who is trying to be polite, and is off their guard, and who suddenly finds the religious fanatic is actually a friendly person who can talk intelligently and doesn't sound like a fanatic at all anymore. By laughing at the fanatic, you helped them to lure in the person they were really after, and gave them a chance to give the real recruiting pitch.

        Trolling fanatics may be fun, but it can easily have the opposite effect from what you intend.

        • Re:Right (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kentrel (526003) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:00PM (#40692863) Journal

          You know that trolling doesn't mean ridiculing someone?

          Trolling is a fine art, and often it means gaining someone's trust, and provoking an emotional reaction you want, but not necessarily drawing attention to yourself as the troll.

          • by equex (747231)
            Trolling is a subset of social engineering :)
          • High level trolling is indistinguishable from the worst sociopaths. CEOs, corportate execs, etc. troll their way to the top. They just get rich so it sounds like Trololololo.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          And that is who they're really targeting. That person who is trying to be polite, and is off their guard, and who suddenly finds the religious fanatic is actually a friendly person who can talk intelligently and doesn't sound like a fanatic at all anymore. By laughing at the fanatic, you helped them to lure in the person they were really after, and gave them a chance to give the real recruiting pitch.

          That's how it works on TV but not in real life. The basic tactic is to get the victim into a situation where they can be bombarded with religious bullshit for years on end and surrounded by others who seem to believe it totally. It isn't unique to Islam either, most monotheistic religions prefer to get people in young and hammer them for years so they become true and unshakable believers. It isn't even unique to religion, extremist groups of all kinds do it.

          There is no logic, no rational argument, just rele

      • Which works right up until they tell the people they are preaching to "Look! See, I told you they would try to make us look stupid, its because they hate us!"

        OTOH, I guess you've gotta try what you can - and if at least the semi-intelligent on up see that the recruiter was dumb enough to fall for a troll, they'll loose faith. As long as they don't use this to recruit, say 3 or 4 times the people who didn't join up...
      • by Dr Max (1696200)
        Problem is the Americans will get trolled back and considering they have murdered more innocents, and ruined more lives, while profiting on it, and just generally being hypocritical, some of them wont handle it.
        • by stdarg (456557)

          You have to care about the subject matter to fall for trolling. Like your post could be trolling people who care about America's image in terms of whether it kills innocent people etc. Someone might respond to you acting all indignant about how America's not like that, or other places are so much worse. Others don't care because they know America's history and are proud of it.

          That's why I don't get how this is going to work with al Qaeda. What on earth are people going to say to make them feel emotional and

        • Just curious, as an American...

          How many people have I murdered? Lives ruined?

          And if I'm profiting, my check must be lost in the mail.
          • by Dr Max (1696200)

            1940s - nuked Japan.

            Death toll: 145,000 to date in Nagasaki, 250,000 in Hiroshima

            1947-49 - U.S. helps command extreme-right Greece party in Civil War.

            Death toll: about 70,000 contributed by US-backed forces

            1948-54 - CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion in Philippines.

            Death toll: about 11,000

            1950 - Independence movement crushed in Ponce, Puerto Rico

            Death toll: conservative historians estimated about 8,000 peasants

            1950-53 - Korean War

            Death toll: about 1,776,000

            1952 - CIA overthrows Democracy i

          • by Dr Max (1696200)
            and yes you profited. That's why the american style of life has been so much higher than the rest of the world. You get your check every time you fill up your gas tank. I don't actually think the american public is that bad (although if you run around trying to justify everything as trolls the extremists may connect the two) it's just a government that you can't control.
    • Take it from someone that's practically got a PhD in pissing people off... I've very lonely.
    • Because pissing people off is an effective way to get them to leave you alone.

      A visit from 4chan is unlikely to do much about the 'currently at a training camp in hellholistan learning to use RPGs' crowd; but suitably competent trolling can reduce an online community to little more than flame wars and tumbleweeds fairly quickly.

      It might annoy the wannabes enough that they give up and just go look at porn or something instead. People aren't known for their dedication or attention spans on the internet.

      • by stdarg (456557)

        That might work for some wannabees. It seems to me that at least some of the people looking online at jihad sites and who are actually interested in it are more likely to pick sides in a flame fest than leave in disgust.

        They'll have to be very careful to make their trolling uninteresting and non-inflammatory, which doesn't even make sense. That's not how you troll.

        Frankly I don't see how this is going to work. I'm hoping that they are using the word "troll" in a different sense than how I understand it. Unf

    • you want them furiously attacking you, with words. you, an anonymous troll on the internet

      rather than bombing people in the real world

      keep them occupied and wasting their time on the Internet by pointing the object of their rage at trollish subjects and ideas rather than real people and places

    • by Centurix (249778)

      Not such pissing them off, more getting them in a tissy. Spacked out terrorists confused about where to put the stick of TNT.

      If they could redirect 4chan posts to the Taliban they'd be all rainbows and unicorns.

    • The art if trolling is to make them embarrass themselves, not to insult them directly. Asking the right questions in a sincere tone etc. Make them speak about the weak points in their quest, the things they might rather not mention in a recruiting campaign. The thin line between open discussion and good trolling is that the art of trolling includes the concepts of intentionally misunderstanding the others point, carefully associate them with groups you know they don't completely agree with (e.g. Confront a

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by 54mc (897170) <samuelmcravenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:25PM (#40690735)
    My skills will be put to use!
  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:27PM (#40690781)
    They always go down well
  • Be very careful when participating in this type of activity, because if you really annoy Al Qaida terrorists, they try to get revenge in some way.
    For example, they might DDoS your server, or dox you, of any number of other similarly terrifying acts.
  • Waste of Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:35PM (#40690889)

    it never worked on [Republicans, Democrats] (delete as per preference) so why should it work on fundies?

  • Get ready to nullahfy terrorists!

  • by bhlowe (1803290) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @05:39PM (#40690935)
    This is a good war porn [youtube.com] action.. Its begging for some peace through trolling comments.
  • And whoever heard of an Islamic Militant holding a grudge?

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:05PM (#40691263)
    I'm all for this. But I don't speak Hebrew... that's what they speak right? Anyway, any English speaking Mohammedans that have a forum?
    • Anyway, any English speaking Mohammedans that have a forum?

      Just go to YouTube and search for "jihad bil saif", then have fun in the comments.

      Other useful search terms are country name + "mujahideen", where country name is one of: Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya (or, better yet Ichkeria, or Caucasus Emirate), Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Somalia - you can find more on Wikipedia. Also try "caliphate" and "ummah" with the same.

  • by lannocc (568669) <shawn@lannocc.com> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:22PM (#40691453) Homepage
    Logic AND religious arguments? So which side are supposed to be the nut-jobs here?
  • and do the obvious thing: stop bombing random countries in the middle east every four to eight years. Anyone whos read Osama Bin Ladens demand list knows that most of his argument is structured around the fact that we bomb indiscriminately most of the middle east, topple their governments, kill their nationals and foreign nationals with drones, prop up malevolent dictators and generally leave the countries we've "touched" a complete wreck. trolling for peace will be nearly as effective as the like button
    • Yes and no. You're about half right. The thing about bin Laden was that he wanted us out of there so he could re-establish a caliphate and bring the region backwards about a thousand years. It wasn't all freedom and non-interference with him. Not saying that US intervention is always, or even often a good thing in that region, but bin Laden was dangerous to everybody, especially the Muslims in the area.

  • by erice (13380) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:57PM (#40691807) Homepage

    I think people reading too much into the description of the effort as "trolling".

    Trolling on Usenet and sites like Slashdot is about provoking people who are otherwise engaged in reasoned, rational, discussions into flaming.

    The Al Qaeda elements are presumably using weakly supported but not obviously wrong statements written to appeal to the emotions of would-be recruits and convince them that the irrational is reasonable. In other words, these elements are themselves trolling.

    The counter would be to either reveal the trolls as nut jobs or provoke them to revealing that themselves. Posting fictitious but not obviously wrong arguments yourself is probably not the way to go about this.

  • trolling terrorists to disrupt their operations could be so much fun, it would be like the Three Stooges bopping them on the noggins
  • Trolling will just be mistaken for another enemy sect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law [wikipedia.org]
  • You know, it strikes me that it's odd that these idiots have nothing better to do. Why not just post youtube videos talking about how they wear womens underwear on their heads? It would be infinitely more entertaining.
  • isn't the best way to prevent getting stung in the future
  • I am all for anything that promotes the idea that any kind of political speech coming from US is poisonous propaganda, and should not be trusted.

    Think of it as a weakened vaccine against more sophisticated forms of US propaganda.

  • That's it, let's pit one group of amoral and antagonistic extremist virgins against another. Let's see what happens!

    Or:
    We've replaced the hardcore soldiers in this scenario with ineffectual internet nerds. Let's see if they notice.

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