November 27, 2012

Moralretrolling (or Sorry Friends For the Social Experiment)

[I know I still haven't finished putting up the Halloween/wedding photos. In time you will all know the shocking truth. Detours and whatnot. It's not like I've even got to last year's "Best of 2011" music post, so whatevs.] 

Yesterday morning when I got up, I was alerted to some really awesome and hilarious trolling courtesy (cross-reference the Twitter, blog, and and Facebook pages for the complete saga). I've also been consuming quite a bit of media with trolling and double-crossing lately (Hitchock spy films, Trapped in the Closet, WWF, Borat, On Cinema Podcast) and was inspired to do some of my own. The target was those absolutely ridiculous Facebook reposts, mostly of the "something about privacy" sort that has been plaguing our news feeds over the past few days. This shit all happened already several months ago, but it must've been before Election Day when all of our memories were wiped.

Quite a few friends had been reposting this bullshit yet again, so I figured it was time to do something that would be hilarious to me for a while that we could go back and learn a lesson from then we all have a laugh together. Moral-retro-trolling-LOLing or something. Here's the original post:
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times.  
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.
Something like that at least. Whatever it was it was clearly pointless bullshit that amounted to nothing. I then took that text and modified it so it said the exact opposite of the original message (and added in some things that would be dead giveaways as to its authenticity):

I tried to work in the Asian Dawn Movement from Hans Gruber's communique, but went for Looney Tunes instead. I immediately had second thoughts about posting it because another friend had just minutes before posted a very clear "Come on people, stop falling for this scam" plea. But I risked the nose-in-the-book penalty and hit "post."

Not too long after I posted my mess, I got a "like" from a former lawyer/current writer who I'm sure navigated my BS legalese. Then there was a response from someone that clearly understood my culture jamming with a Banksy joke and I retorted with another nod from the troll classic, Exit Through The Gift Shop. I figured the jig was up before it was ever down.

HOWEVER, I immediately spotted a couple reposts. I assumed they were ironic reposts, BUT THEY WEREN'T!

I prematurely gloated on Twitter that some were non-ironic posts, but soon realized that none were.   I then made the decision to stay in troll mode if anyone questioned me on it, because that's really the secret to successful performance art. Of course, when actual funny people do successful performance art, they aren't usually making their friends the victims.

My good friend with the dark squiggles did everything right (if it had been an actual reposting of the original bullshit text). He immediately called me out and directed me to, a skeptical website that had already debunked the legitimacy of the source material. I've long been a fan of the Snopes website and subscribe to the "Checking snopes before forwarding dumb emails" Facebook group. Since I regularly throw it in people's faces myself, I'm familiar with the popular retort "I don't trust Snopes. It's full of liberal bias" (SPOILER: it's not). I felt like such a ignorant superdouchebag repeating it. Half-wanting to get caught, I tried to draw hearsay-style attention to the Derpa Convention, but he stuck to his original guns and the argument fizzled into a into a Mr. Show skit.

Elsewhere, more of the right thing was happening, for the most part, despite my egotistical attempts to thwart it. 

Here I learned that people are immune to, or are at least aware of older social media scams, but are not necessarily ready to take a stand against newer ones as quickly. My trolling here again sticks out like a sore thumb on a jerk that could have been more productive in the anti-fraud movement instead of the chuckling-to-himself movement. To be honest, I feel pretty shitty just posting these exchanges, even with the blurred names, but there's a greater good somewhere here, right? And to my credit, I'm not actually lying in any of my responses. If you read between the lines, most of them amount "Go back and read between the lines."

This one was deleted not too long after someone figured out what was going on:

Finally, the text I rewrote was actually being read. And then we've got the admission that sometimes, we don't read what we're signing on to. I think it's safe to draw the conclusion that people, when they are tired or vulnerable, sometimes cling to things just because they seem like they mean well, even if they actually mean the opposite and serve to take advantage. It's a horrible thing, but it happens all the time with get rich quick schemes and cold call scams. In comparison, a simple repost may seem like a harmless piece of nothing, but blind trust is a gateway drug to getting totally fucked with.

And that person totally fucking with you, and totally feeling troll's remorse at this point, may not be me next time.

Blue Squiggles was the one that reposted my text in that example, but Purple Squiggles called him out on it, thinking the text was about protecting copyright. So I jumped in to ask stupid questions and escalated the situation using Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies as soon as I had the opportunity. Just when I thought the conversation had hit a Ludicrous enough Speed to expose my trolling, Purple Squiggles lit up my chat window. And yes, she again made great points about the futility of trying to protect copyright on publicly-traded social media websites, but still didn't actually read the text that was posted. To her credit, she did note the sarcasm in my growing electioneering, but I admitted nothing.

A few degrees of separation away was someone that did get it:

That sort of made up for my regret. The experiment dried up pretty quickly after that (though I get to play dumb for my soon-to-be brother-in-law and accuse Gizmodo of being in bed with Facebook). On the whole, only a small handful people took the bait which means either:
  1. people read it, got it, and didn't respond
  2. people saw the first few words, dismissed it, and didn't respond 
  3. people already don't read anything I post and/or have my posts hidden
Assuming that the 2 and 3 are the more likely scenarios, then I've accomplished very little more other than squeezing out a blog entry, and possibly making myself look like The RoBeast Who Cried Wolf. It's also going to mean that people probably aren't going to see this post either and realize that I was joking the whole time.

I did learn that even skeptical people are guilty of not fully examining their materials. People are ready to jump all over each other for reposting unread nonsensical text, but then end up not reading the instructions to their own Jump to Conclusions Mat. On one hand, I've never seen such an immediate response from the Facebook masses rushing to invoke the Snopes Defense before. But it's also a bit sad that with all the daily bullshit we see on there, people are only well-mobilized against a low-scale Facebook scam. It's a start I guess.

Well, thank you for participating in my half-baked experiment, willingly or otherwise, and I'm sorry for screwing with you. I did my best to cover up everyone's names other than my own. If I missed any, let me know. If you still don't believe I was trolling the whole time, then I'm just going to assume you're trolling. 

1 comment:

The Wrestlemania Trivia Champ said...

Well played, Robeast. Well played...