Tags: internet | trolling | grant | government

Feds Spend $499,571 to Fight 'Online Trolling'

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By    |   Friday, 02 Sep 2016 11:32 AM

The National Science Foundation is using almost half a million dollars to fight online "trolls."

Northwestern and Northeastern universities are working together to make "trolling-free environments" online. According to the researchers, trolls are people who attempt to change public opinion by promoting "misleading" and "inauthentic comments."

"Today, almost every browsing click that users make is collected by numerous trackers associated with a variety of online services… This project explores re-using this extensive tracking infrastructure for the benefits of both the users themselves and web services, with a goal of preventing online trolling (scenarios in which various groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the Internet, by leaving biased, false, misleading, and inauthentic comments, and then artificially amplifying their ratings)," a project grant said. "The project aims to show how the tracking infrastructure can be re-used as a user 'fingerprint,' allowing a lightweight and privacy-preserving form of identification for third-party web sites."

"This troll business becomes more popular year by year," Platon Mamatov, a Russian former "troll farm" owner told The New York Times. "There are thousands — I'm not sure about how many, but yes, really, thousands."

Northeastern University's Alan Mislove and Northwestern University's Aleksandar Kuzmanovic told The Washington Free Beacon that their project would help thwart "troll armies" in China and Russia.

"Public opinion is of paramount importance in any society. It is thus not a surprise that many governments, political parties, and various other groups deploy tactics to influence public opinion on the Internet, a practice commonly referred to as trolling," they said.

"Likely the most well-known example is Russia's 'troll army,' a government sponsored group of thousands of paid bloggers that work round the clock to flood the comments sections of western publications," they continued, "'raging at the depravity and injustice of the west.'"

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The National Science Foundation is using almost half a million dollars to fight online trolls. Northwestern and Northeastern universities are working together to make trolling-free environments online.
internet, trolling, grant, government
299
2016-32-02
Friday, 02 Sep 2016 11:32 AM
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