Thursday, 17 February 2011

Brahrain's Troll Soldiers

Yesterday we saw a number twitter "members" who claimed to be objective in the conflict in Bahrain, but seemed happy to advice information as the complexity of the issue. One tweeter assured me that the protests were almost all Shias, that everyone knew this in Bahrain.

Another person claimed that the pro-government protests were all pro-family. He assured me the higher level of tweets coming from the anti-government protests over the pro-government "demonstration" was because all the pro-government people were too busy waving flags and taking care of families.

These and many many other twitter accounts claiming to be from Bahrain and supporting the government all have one thing in common. They all suddenly stopped posting at about 2 AM GMT 4 am local time in Bahrain.

At about 10:30 GMT we are shocked to see one pro-government tweeter account after another that suddenly went silent 8 hours ago. Presently there are almost no accounts defending the regime on twitter, while yesterday there was a mass flood.

Clearly these accounts were hired by the state to engage in a disinformation campaign planned to take place right up to the violent crack down. The Bahrain state used a large number of such accounts to mouth a Troll Attack on social networks intentionally meant to disrupt social network activity in preparation for a real attack on the actual protesters.

Normally the term troll is used on the Internet without much thought as to its meaning. I never use the term since I have never, before, seen a clear case in which people were posting with the intention of disrupting a group. People usually just label someone they disagree with as a troll. But in Bahrain we have seen a mass, planned use of Trolls as an instrument of state power and ultimately state terror.

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