Feeds

Eggheads crack open web troll brains

Big headache discovered for smeared biz bosses

Reducing security risks from open source software

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. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.