Trolling as the Third Way of Government's Control over Online Public Discourse: The Case of S. Korea Intelligence Agency
Posted: 24 May 2016 Last revised: 9 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 2, 2016
This study suggests that governments use Internet trolling as the third way of controlling online public discourse. On the contrary to previous studies that explored two passive measures of controls, censorship and surveillance, the study emphasizes the active measure trolling as a new way of government intervention. This study also differs from previous studies on trolling, which have seen trolling as an individual misbehavior based on psychological amusement. This paper argues that trolling also needs to be understood as organizational concerted actions, manufacturing and even creating public online discourse. In order to address these, the study used the very first kind of case evidence around the world: trolling operation by secret spy Intelligence Agency of S. Korea that confirmed by court ruling. Accordingly, analyzes of this paper are based on documents and data obtained from legal processes by courts and the Prosecutors’ Office. From the examination of these materials, it is found that trolling has several advantages over the other two measures. First of all, trolling can be operated without sophisticated technology but only with skillful human resources. It implies that governments without such technology can easily employ trolling for misdirecting discussion on public affairs. Second, the flexibility of trolling offers the opportunity that various strategies can be applied to promote desired contents and to demean undesired contents. This study identifies ‘push out’ strategy with apolitical contents and ‘down-vote’ strategy for undesired contents. Third, anonymity of trolling provides a good environment for psychological propaganda by government agency, providing misperception on public opinions by exploiting advantages of each media platform.
Keywords: Trolling, Intelligence Agency, Internet Control, Propaganda, Internet Forum, Twitter
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