Esta semana apareció un artículo de Joel Stein sobre el problema de los trolls de extrema derecha que habrían tomado por asalto los medios sociales. Aunque, en efecto, el artículo tiene un claro sesgo hacia los trolls de derecha, esto, quizá no sea tan gratuito. El texto no descarta que existan liberales-izquierdistas que hagan trolling, pero es claro que se ha vuelto una herramienta de la extrema derecha.

El problema de los trolls
Foto por Cali4beach. Algunos derechos reservados.

“But trolling has become the main tool of the alt-right, an Internet-grown reactionary movement that works for men’s rights and against immigration and may have used the computer from Weird Science to fabricate Donald Trump. Not only does Trump share their attitudes, but he’s got mad trolling skills: he doxxed Republican primary opponent Senator Lindsey Graham by giving out his cell-phone number on TV and indirectly got his Twitter followers to attack GOP political strategist Cheri Jacobus so severely that her lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist order.”

Ver artículo completo.

Primera cuestión: ¿son iguales los trolls de extrema derecha o de extrema izquierda? Según Daniel Drezner no, al menos para el caso norteamericano. Para empezar, aunque ambos pueden ser anti-semitas, por ejemplo, este es un asunto principal y clave para la extrema derecha norteamericana. Los trolls de ext-derecha generalmente se escudan en el anonimato, lo cual no es el caso frecuente para los de ext-izquierda. Y así. No, no son iguales. (Claro, el texto no es una apreciación fruto de un análisis sistemático, pero igual es sugerente):

“Like any good social scientist, it’s worth pointing out a few differences between the two experiences. Most of the left trolls came around as a result of responses by either Alternet’s Adam Johnson or the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald; there was no similar high-profile tweet from the alt-right crowd. Furthermore, my contretemps with the left was about a macro-historical question; my interactions with the right were about … well, I’ll get to that in a moment. But those biases in the inputs probably had an effect on the quality of the trolling.”

(Ver artículo completo)

Lo que extrañé del artículo de Stein es que se enfoca mucho en los usuarios de extrema derecha que hacen trolling y discute poco sobre el ecosistema sobre el que se montan. Quizá exista una relación entre los algoritmos que determinan qué es un trending topic y el tipo de trolling que describe Stein. Sobre trolling y uso de bots para fines políticos puede leerse lo que viene generando como discusión el equipo de Political Bots:

“One day, campaigns won’t have people looking at data. You’ll use bots to troll people’s public information. During Brexit, 15 percent of the tweets were done by bots, not actual Twitter users. If you’re looking for a big, scary future: artificial intelligence tasked with propaganda, targeting me specifically and sending me only the information it knows that I’m interested in. Just like how artificial intelligence is better than we are at chess, it’s recently come out that it’s better than us at flying aircraft — and it will be better than us at propaganda.”

Ver entrevista completa a Josef Ansorge.

Pueden ser bots o pueden ser simplemente un conjunto de lemmings humanos que coinciden con llenar de basura Twitter y Facebook. Evidentemente, a los algoritmos no les interesa qué se escriba sino ver las tendencias.

““Trending” is also being asked to do a lot of things for Facebook: capture the most relevant issues being discussed on Facebook, and conveniently map onto the most relevant topics in the worlds of news and entertainment, and keep users on the site longer, and keep up with Twitter, and keep advertisers happy. In many ways, a trending algorithm can be an enormous liability, if allowed to be: it could generate a list of dreadful or depressing topics; it could become a playground for trolls who want to fill it with nonsense and profanity; it could reveal how little people use Facebook to talk about matters of public importance; it could reveal how depressingly little people care about matters of public importance; and it could help amplify a story critical of Facebook itself. It would take a whole lot of bravado to set that loose on a system like Facebook, and let it show what it shows unmanaged. Clearly, Facebook has a lot more at stake in producing a trending list that, while it should look like an unvarnished report of what users are discussing, must also massage it into something that represents Facebook well at the same time.”

Artículo de Tarleton Gillespie, Culture Digitally. Ver completo.

Sumemos que las discusiones políticas en medios sociales se han reducido, como lo afirma Christian Fuchs, a concursos de envía-y-gana:

“Such populism 2.0 reduces the political public sphere to submit-and-win contests, political spectacles and personality politics dominated by leadership figures,” he says. “What is today largely missing are politically innovative users of social media that engage citizens in political conversations with each other, in which they have the chance to discuss and explore the complexity of the key political challenges the world faces today.”

(Ver artículo completo ‘From Obama to ‘troll farms’)

Regresemos al primer punto. ¿Quiénes son los más afectados en los medios sociales? Un estudio de hace dos años del Pew Research Center mostró que eran los grupos “no hombres blancos” los más afectados. ¿Sesgo en Silicon Valley?

“These platforms that we use — Facebook, Twitter, Google — were created and engineered by white men, the group least likely to experience the most aggressive forms of online harassment. Is the internet designed, inadvertently or otherwise, to be hostile to everyone who isn’t white and male?

“You’re not making this up,” Citron said. “Amanda Hess’s piece [on online harassment] talks about this, too. You are not out of your mind. I think it’s an important insight that Facebook and Google and Twitter, most of their employees are male. And that’s true of Silicon Valley, generally speaking> So the idea that these tools aren’t built with some of these gendered harms in mind, it’s not an outlandish idea.””

El problema de los trolls es un tema urgente a trabajar y discutir, toda vez que aquí el trolling se ha vuelto una herramienta de ataque y propaganda de la extrema derecha y con apoyo directo de congresistas, periodistas de medios masivos y personalidades con llegada a espacios de poder.