Radiography of hatred in the social networks of Mariana Moyano

Radiography of hatred in the social networks of Mariana Moyano
Latin America & Caribbean
Social networks

The journalist analyzed the behavior of network users who break into conversations to distort them with attacks and fallacies.

By Andrés Valenzuela for Page 12

"The network needs us all trolling," says Mariana Moyano.


The journalist analyzed the behavior of network users who break into conversations to distort them with attacks and fallacies.

By Andrés Valenzuela for Page 12

The book started by looking for what we call 'trolls' to see how they worked. I found some, I chatted, I investigated, but the immediate question was 'then the book ends here?' Mariana Moyano talks about Trolls SA , recently published by Planeta. The journalist's work delves deeper and does not stop at the -important, but ultimately anecdotal- X-ray of the operation of a government call center to attack political rivals. Trolls SA examines social networks and the mechanisms that make hatred flourish .

On the Internet, the user who breaks into a conversation to distort and ruin it is called a “troll” . In general, he does it through aggression, the most extreme argumentative fallacies (hello Schopenhauer), and a visceral refusal to attend to reasons and data that contradict him. They have existed since the dawn of the digital universe and are not exclusive to Facebook, Twitter or the comments of online newspapers. They were already swarming on BBS, mailing lists and online forums. What is distinctive about the contemporary troll is that its power grew along with the presence of social networks in everyday life .

The trolls became a political factor to which no party escapes, although Moyano points out that in Argentina it was the PRO who best understood their existence, their way of acting, and thus systematized, took advantage of and professionalized their performance. Paid trolls exist and some are interviewed in this book. But the most interesting thing is that Moyano proposes to understand that trolling (thus, as a verb) is something that any Internet user exercises and that, even more, social networks operate as a new political territory, which deserves attention and understanding of its rules and dynamics. Under the ganchero title of Trolls SA The Internet Hate Industry , Moyano proposes much more.

"Why is an infiltrator in a demonstration still something reprehensible and an infiltrator who is going to disturb a debate on the network is not? What characteristic does each scenario have that makes it annoying in one place and in another part of the logic of operation? ”, The journalist asks. “There I began to understand that the networks need anger. In one of the presentations of her book, Cristina (Fernández) said something like 'the book is the perfect word', the finished word. When you write a book, you have a lot of time to think and sift through a text. The network is the opposite: it is momentum, instantaneous: you can't wait for tomorrow and you don't think about it. What is the word of the network? The powerful word, the one that stands out in the context of thousands of other words. That powerful word is barbaric, that of anger. Why can this troll work in that area? Because the fuel of social networks ”.

"What the media take from the networks is that Fulanito 'hit' Menganito on twitter", continues Moyano. "There is one thing to promote that and it is because the network needs us all trolling, making the book helped me to review the way I connect and write on the networks, I look at old tweets and I realize that I was a re troll, I was very aggressive because it seemed to me that this way I was going to have more impact, and I did! Now I think five times before I come across someone ”.

Of course, recognize, not all networks work the same. "Each network has its own internal functioning, not only technical, but also cultural," Moyano points out, and offers an example of the Maldonado case, where users complained to the Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich for her actions, including on her Instagram account. “That does not usually happen with politicians. They don't bitch on Instagram, they bitch on Twitter. If you're going to bitch IG, you're kind of out of place. Ponele, Alberto (Fernández) with his dog. Are you going to bitch it? You are left as a misplaced you. On the other hand, if he tweets that 'Macri I don't know what', he does. "

From four years to now, the impact of social media has grown exponentially in political processes around the world. In Donald Trump's United States (for many, the perfect troll), in Bolsonaro's Brazil, in Brexit and, of course, in Argentina. Trolls SA runs through several of the international reports that link Facebook, Twitter and Cambrydge Analytica with the country's electoral processes. However, for Moyano the main danger with networks is not perceiving that they generate things: social climates, organized social actors. “It's not that by writing a tweet you change destiny, but you do have to see that things happen there, with Trump, with Bolsonaro, with Brexit. What noise that was already there and we did not see was captured by social networks?

At the micro level, in addition, Moyano observes different effects produced by the troll. The most obvious is to install topics as if it were a genuine concern and not tweets replicated by automated mechanisms. But there are others. "The troll breaks the argumentative user", the author raises. “They generate something very heavy politically which is self-censorship, where you think twice before saying something because you know that they are going to go out to lynch you. And they are trolls, even if they are people of flesh and blood, with a first and last name, and are not paid ”.

“The dangerous thing for democracy is not seeing these new political subjects, the social networks that change our mood, because if we don't understand them, surely someone does and already knows what to do with it. The dangerous thing for democracy is not taking precautions ” , warns Moyano. The Internet allowed people who were forbidden to speak public to gather together. No Nazi was going to publicly declare that he was, not an anti-vaccine or a flat-Earther. Social networks gave them a field for meeting and, above all, for organization. "The dangerous thing is not to see human beings grouping there, that this is a social being and the social being decides, votes, or goes on television to say that it is not necessary to vaccinate."

In the book, Moyano is also in charge of observing the relationship of popular movements with the networks. And he stresses that most are not comfortable with his logic. "The important thing is not to deny, to understand that there is a new territory that is there," he explains. “There is data: between 44 and 68% of people have their first contact with some information in a click on a social network ; the window to get to the newspaper is a social network ”. Understanding this mode of consumption, he says, is key to getting closer to the electorate. “40% of the electoral roll that votes in October is young people between 16 and 30 years old. These people do not consume more like us, they are a generation that does not know what it is to wait for a program schedule. So how do you talk to him? With a television spot that you are not going to see? If politics does not think about how to get to that daily life, it is light years away from the people ”.