Feeds

Eggheads crack open web troll brains

Big headache discovered for smeared biz bosses

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

People who fire off abuse online tend to be keyboard warriors who lack self-control and are fuelled by vengefulness while protected by cloaks of anonymity. And they're going to cost businesses a ton of cash as they struggle to defend their reputations.

This is according to a frankly shocking study published in the current issue of the Computers in Human Behavior journal.

Online smearers also tested strongly positive for impulsiveness, academics at the Florida Institute of Technology concluded in their study. Their paper, Rash impulsivity, vengefulness, virtual-self and amplification of ethical relativism on cyber-smearing against corporations, focused on flames and smears against corporations, rather than trolling individuals.

Researcher Michael Workman gave personality tests to 193 largely college-educated "social media literate professionals" from across the US and Europe, and then asked them for their online aliases, tracking them through chatrooms and forum boards and noting down any trolling or similar activities (on condition of keeping their information private).

Workman also looked at whinger website ihatethiscompany.com and the defunct fuckedcompany.com.

The main outcome was that of the four traits they tested for, the strongest correlation with cyber-smearing was a belief that ethics are relative and that there is no objective right and wrong:

When people hold a view of ethical relativism, the statistically significant interaction does suggest greater cyber-smearing. Impulsivity and vengefulness were associated with cyber-smearing in our study, and also this behavior was amplified by ethical relativism.

troll_brain3

El Reg's trolls are an exception: they're not vengeful,
they're just generating page hits debate.

Workman also noted that "when people who lack self-control and have tendencies to seek revenge especially when shrouded in anonymity" they tend to reach for the caps lock key and engage defamation mode.

Also bears defecate in the woods, but there are serious bucks to be made in this business: Workman highlighted the lucrative industry that has grown up around corporate reputation management.

The success of these interventions has depended on the motives of the perpetrator, thus knowing the underlying factors for cyber-smearing is extremely important to knowing which action to take. Ultimately, organizations in the future will increasingly have face misinformation disseminated by people who are rash or vindictive, and the public will have to become better at discerning these opinions and rhetoric from facts and descriptions.

Rash impulsivity, vengefulness, virtual-self and amplification of ethical relativism on cyber-smearing against corporations is available from ScienceDirect. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.