In the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I tried to keep up on the news. I found myself reading the often extensive reader comments after many news stories. Many were filled with misinformation that bordered on the ridiculous. At first I thought I would try following up these posts with factual information, usually with links. I remember spending about an hour a day doing this. There was a lot at stake. One recurring theme was that New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt, because it was on the coast and below sea level. Neither is true (New Orleans is on the Mississippi River almost a hundred miles from the Gulf oF Mexico, and it is mostly above sea level). New Orleans had also been around at that site for about 300 years.
After a few weeks it occurred to me that it was often the same people, posting the same nonsense over and over, sometimes from different accounts. I wonder who these people were. Cranks with too much time on their hands? Maybe. Increasingly I came to believe they were being paid, but I couldn’t figure out why or by who.
Some of this has since been clarified, with cyber operations from places like North Korea and Russia. A good, cheap way to disrupt a society. Just a modern form of good old fashioned propaganda.
Today I ran across this comment (the only one — also a tip off that something is afoot). The original article was about the cancelling of the 2020 Tokyo Marathon due to the Corona virus. The link to the article and the text of the comment are reproduced below. Sadly not much point in reading comments any more.
The 2020 Tokyo Marathon is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus (Only Elites Will Run)
Coronavirus is god’s judgement and humans are foolish to not embrace it. All muslims and christians that change their daily routine based on coronavirus are saying they believe in science more than god. They are fake. A true Muslim or christian woruld embrace the coronavirus and know that god will take care of him if he just surrenders fully to the coronavirus. No barriers, no doubts, nothing. Let god help you. Embrace the coronavirus.
One thought on “Trolls and Internet Comments”
I feel your malaise! It’s truly a case of “pick your battles.” Now I’m down to reading comments mainly on NYT articles; they’re consistently and thoughtfully well-moderated. I now avoid WaPo’s toxic stew, and don’t even get me started about YouTube comments! Although, YT quality does seem to reflect a given channel; my YT Las Vegas buffet guru seems to garner only love and lightheartedness. 😉