Episode 11: How are we trolling ourselves to death?

13 Feb 2024

Dr. Jason Hannan, Associate Professor in the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, researches the truth in politics and discourse; examining how disinformation, conspiracy theory, and populism is undermining democracy. His new work explains how the toxic online culture of trolling is moving beyond the internet into the public sphere and what that means for society.

On this episode the research question is: “How are we trolling ourselves to death?”

KENT DAVIES: Recent events like Brexit, the Freedom Convoy’s, the presidency of Donald Trump and the January sixth U.S. Capital attack have indicated a significant change in how western democracies now engage in politics. Commentors have noted that public discourse is becoming increasingly hostile, malicious and intolerant.[i] While it’s evident that online platforms have played a role in these events,[ii] one social media persona in particular has emerged from the depths of internet, growing in numbers and influence to wreak havoc on our culture, politics, institutions, and social practices; the troll.[iii]  

JASON HANNAN: It used to be the case that the trolls were, you know, limited to certain spaces online. Usenet in the 90s. And then in the 2000s, they spread on social media platforms, on blogs, on the comments section of YouTube and these places. And they were considered a menace, but something that was pretty much exclusive to these darker corners of the internet. But what changed, I think, is the mainstreaming of a social media sensibility and culture.

KENT DAVIES: That’s Dr. Jason Hannan, Associate Professor in UWinnipeg’s Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications. His research interests include rhetoric and political theory. His focus being on the truth in discourse. His new work, analyzes the practice of trolling and how the toxic online culture is moving beyond the internet into the public sphere.

On this episode the research question is: “how are we trolling ourselves to death?”

From the University of Winnipeg Oral History Centre, you’re listening to Research Question- amplifying the impact of discovery of researchers of the University of Winnipeg.


KENT DAVIES: Dr. Jason Hannan had a unique upbringing, that helped shape his perspective.

JASON HANNAN: Born in Ottawa many, many years ago. My parents, they were both initially refugees. So, they had been moving around a lot. Shortly after I was born, we ended up moving to the States to Lexington, Kentucky. And then when I was five years old, we moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When I was 14, I went to boarding school in Europe in Salzburg, Austria, and then I went to boarding school in New Hampton, New Hampshire, and then East Hampton, Massachusetts. And then I did my undergrad in the US, at the at Northeastern University in Boston, and then I did my MA and PhD in Ottawa at Carleton University. I did my postdoc at Northwestern University in Chicago, and then I got this job in 2013. Moving around—First of all, it’s a very difficult experience, because I’ve never had a place that I can call home, never had a place that really felt like, it felt like home to me. And so, I’ve always been kind of on the outside. And it made me appreciate just how differently people look at the world and my work—the general interest that I have is in the politics of truth, how we battle out in the public arena with our very, very different ways of looking at the world. And I think moving around really helped me to appreciate that.

KENT DAVIES: During grad school, Hannan became fixated on the concept of truth.

JASON HANNAN: In grad school, it was very common to encounter certain theorists who had a very negative idea of truth. And that never sat well with me. And so rather than just kind of being polemical about it I decided to turn this into the topic for my second comprehensive exam. You had to take some topic and really delve into it in a very deep and sustained way. Kind of like a mini thesis. And so I picked the topic of truth. I had been drawing from certain people, a philosopher by the name of Huw Price, who had argued that we cannot give up on this idea of truth, despite what some people might say. If we abandon the concept, it will have a material effect on the way that we can even communicate in everyday conversations. Yes, it’s a difficult idea to define. But human communication, human speech, cultures and practices would not survive intact without the idea of truth. So, it was a very kind of abstract argument.

But in 2016, after the orange guy won the election, the general election in the United States, then everybody was talking about truth all of a sudden, because, you know, he was so contemptuous of the very ideal of truth, you know, he just lied and lied and lied and lied, as if it didn’t matter. And people kept voting for him, they didn’t seem to have any kind of respect for the ideal of truth, either.

KENT DAVIES: While the American presidential campaign of Donald Trump signified for many the beginning of post-truth era;[iv] it was during the aftermath of the Iraq war when Hannan began writing critically about post-truth politics.

JASON HANNAN: I had already been working on this book called Truth in the public sphere, which used the Iraq war as a case study, the premise of the United States invasion of Iraq was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Colin Powell, held that simulated vial of anthrax, which he waived during his appearance at the UN General Assembly.

This was this was the premise. They invaded Iraq, they looked in every warehouse under every rock in the entire country, they couldn’t find weapons of mass destruction. When it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, half the country in the US, just didn’t care. They thought, well, it doesn’t matter. What the argument was, it doesn’t matter what the truth was, it doesn’t matter what the facts are, we still support the war you should to. If you don’t, then means you don’t support the troops, and you’re basically a traitor. You’re guilty of treason. And it was just as brazen, utter disregard for reality. And this had very obviously disturbing implications for democracy and foreign policy. I mean, if you if you justify an invasion on the basis of this very bold, empirical claim for which there’s no evidence whatsoever, this is setting an extremely dangerous precedent, right. So, I had talked a bit in that 2016 book about our post-truth world, post-truth journalism, post-truth society, post-truth politics, a post-truth president, and had kind of located Trump before he won within this phenomenon, saying he didn’t start it, there was actually a longer history to this sort of thing, right. And then he won. And there was this panel that I was a part of in Germany, in early 2017, where we were all asked about this post-truth phenomenon, and somebody had posed a question. What exactly is the cause of this? What brought it about? And I had to really think about this carefully at the time at the panel, I gave, I think something like a bit of a half-baked response. Afterwards, I decided to write a more thoughtful response to that question of what are the roots of our post truth world, and that’s where I started drawing from Postman. And then that became the basis of the book.

KENT DAVIES: Neil Postman’s prominent work Amusing Ourselves to Death, explores the impact of different forms of media on public discourse and culture. Postman’s central argument is that the rise of television would lead to the trivialization and degradation of democracy.[v]

JASON HANNAN: Postman’s argument was that we had undergone this shift from a print based culture to a screens culture or television culture and that this had brought about a fundamental change in the nature, quality, fabric, and texture of democracy and political culture. And it had severely degraded it and made a change for the worse. And I think that he was right in that. I think he was wrong by making the argument that visual imagery degrades our ability to think. I don’t think that’s right at all. But there is something to be said about how that transition from print to screens did fundamentally transform the nature of democracy and more particularly, the way that it had eroded our respect for the very ideal of truth. And it made us very tolerant of contradiction. So, that Reagan could contradict himself in the span of a single sentence. And nobody would be fazed by it. So, a lot of commentators after 2016, were pointing out how his book remarkably predicted what happened in the United States. And so I thought it would be a good exercise, to try and take those insights, apply it to our new reining media, namely social media, and then see what kind of insights it can yield. And just to try to take his discussion a little bit further by abandoning some of his more, I think, problematic arguments. And to try to also historicize in a way that he did not. He’s very much a technological determinist, somebody who made the technology out to be intrinsically problematic. Whereas I think that the technology needs to be situated within a larger historical, political and economic context, which is what I try to do with my book.

KENT DAVIES: Another major work, influencing Hannan’s examination of the post-truth era was Alastair McIntyre’s After Virtue.[vi]

JASON HANNAN: McIntyre, is somebody I discovered in grad school. I wrote my dissertation on his work on the place of communication in his political philosophy. I later published a book on him called Ethics Under Capital. So, he’s a moral and political philosopher, who sees our public sphere in terms that are—that I found were very, very similar to Postman’s. Postman sees a kind of really messy public sphere. It’s really disorganized, chaotic and fragmented. McIntyre saw something similar. But whereas Postman focused on media, McIntyre focused on our ethical language and moral rhetoric, and he looked at the history of that. So, I realized that these two were talking about something very, very similar, but from very different vantage points. And I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to synthesize them to see if we put them together what can they tell us about, about our public sphere.

KENT DAVIES: MacIntyre argues that our contemporary ethical framework lacks a coherent foundation because it has been fragmented and disconnected from its historical and cultural context;[vii] which Hannan argues is due to the limitations of a capitalist society driven by competition and self-interest.[viii]

JASON HANNAN: MacIntyre could never have imagined the world of social media. A culture of instrumentalism, a culture of manipulation, where these distinctions between manipulation and sincerity get dissolved. So he was writing about this in the 70s, published his book in 1980. And it seems like what we’re seeing now, this extreme volatility, which in some sense, he had predicted. He said at the end of his book, that we’re going to be entering a new dark age, just wait. And a lot of people were skeptical of him at the time, they thought he was way too over the top, way too dramatic. And then after 2016, a lot of people were changing their minds and thinking, you know what’s going on? This is really dangerous. We need some sort of an explanation. And I thought he had been onto something decades before this happened. So, in some sense, it’s a vindication of his argument, but in a sad way, because I don’t think anybody should be celebrating a dark age.

KENT DAVIES: Hannan asserts that understanding these two texts may help explain the rise of post-truth era and furthermore the phenomenon of trolling. Typically online trolls have been defined as individuals who engage in provocative, disruptive, or inflammatory behaviour on the internet with the aim of eliciting emotional responses, creating chaos, and disrupting online communities.[ix] Driven by a range of motives from attaining enjoyment to getting revenge or attacking political opponents, the primary goal of trolls is often to incite anger, frustration, or confusion, targeting individuals or groups based on factors such as race, gender, religion, or political beliefs.[x]

JASON HANNAN: We’ve been living with trolls for literally decades. They go back to the 1990s to those newsgroup forums on Usenet. So, before the advent of social media. And so we’ve had scholarship ever since then. There are a number of really, really wonderful researchers, Judith Donath, Whitney Phillips, Gabriella Coleman, and many, many, many others who have written about trolling. They’ve done excellent studies. And I will point out that the majority of the scholars on trolling have been women. And I think that’s because women are most likely to get bullied on these platforms, and trolls tend to be men. So, they had done excellent, excellent work. But they would point out, like Whitney Phillips points out, for example, that there’s a distinction between trolling as a self-conscious subculture, right. The trolls of 4chan, who think of themselves as trolls, they’re they they’re happy to celebrate themselves as trolls. And they have their own kind of subculture based lingo and codes and, you know, imagery and there’s a consciousness of themselves as a kind of, you know, motley community, right. As Whitney points out, there are also people who are engage in abusive behavior on the platforms, but they don’t necessarily think of themselves as trolls, right. So, I wanted to try to provide a new perspective and conception of this by writing that history and describing the phenomenon in broader cultural terms. And proposing that we think of trolling as this symptom of the breakdown of public communication very much along the lines that McIntyre describes that when you reach the you know, the end of an argument when you really have nothing more to say, you get frustrated because you know, you aren’t, you aren’t able to engage somebody on rational grounds, trolling is a kind of lashing out. An act of desperation. You know, you’re frustrated by your lack of, you know, persuasive power, and so you just resort to abusing your interlocutor. Trolling, I think has a particularly sadistic element in it. It is the desire to abuse and hurt someone. So, I mention I think in chapter two, Greta Thunberg has a story about this kind of thing. She was being interviewed in the States, by Naomi Klein, and Naomi Klein was asking her how do you deal with these trolls? What do you make of them? And she said, she found it funny, because every single time, they will try to engage with her in debate, except she always turns to the science. And you can’t really argue with the science. And when they realize that they don’t have an argument. Then they start attacking her looks. They start attacking her voice, they start attacking her age, they, you know, question her mental health, they suggest she’s brainwashed, she’s just a puppet. They start going they start making these, you know, abusive comments about her character and her mental health and so on and so forth. Right? And I think this is a good, you know, example and description of the sort of phenomenon that I’m trying to capture in the book. 

KENT DAVIES: And while much has been said about the role of online platforms in enabling trolling,[xi] Hannan says the social, economic and psychological conditions of individuals better explains the anti-social behaviour that leads to trolling.[xii]

JASON HANNAN: A good way to think about these platforms is through the metaphor of a gun, and a trigger. So, the longer history and the political and economic context is the gun and the platforms are the trigger. And so what they do is they unleash certain pent up hostilities and pent up rage that had already been there in the culture before these platforms were even built. But they gave an outlet to these to these impulses to these very dangerous, reckless and violent impulses. Look at conspiracy theory, for example, I mean, Q-anon is a conspiracy theory movement. And the Anons are trolls, very often they will flood the platforms and go after targets and harass him and abuse them. The root of conspiracy theory is alienation. And alienation is a very, very painful thing. Alienation and loneliness are pathological conditions. And it can express themselves in very dangerous ways. I mean, loneliness is so painful, you look for some sort of drug to alleviate that pain. And the drug could be, a substance, or it could be a conspiracy theory, right? Both are drugs to help alleviate that pain that is at the root of these kinds of problems, right. So, there has been some discussions amongst scholars about, you know, what’s the best solution for them? Clearly, they’re suffering, clearly, they’re traumatized. They need, they need therapy, they need mental health services. But I’ve argued that the root of this is this widespread problem of alienation and loneliness, and that’s something that we really need to address.

KENT DAVIES: Before Q-anon and the Trump Presidency, Hannan says the preconditions for what would become a tidal wave of trolling, started with another President. The first president to really embrace social media.[xiii]

JASON HANNAN: Obama, who is not himself a troll, but he’s been described by a number of commentators as our very first social media president. He was incredibly popular. You know, in the in the late 2000s, when he when he was as campaigning, a very social media friendly president, somebody who was attuned to you know, liberal hipster sense of humor. He was very friendly with certain pop culture figures. Very at home, in that, you know, mid 2000s era of the early social media. And so he did help to change the political game. I think he made it clear that if you want to, you know, run for president, that you have to play the social media game, and you have to play it well. And there was his presumption, this is going to be easy for Democrats, because they’re hip. And they’re— you know, and they’re popular with the cool kids. And Republicans are just, you know, this kind of old, outdated group. They don’t understand the technology. The future doesn’t lie with them, it lies with the Democratic Party. So, this is going to bode well for the Democratic Party for the long run. Right. And that turned out to be, I think, a very dangerous miscalculation. Because there was the as we know, this, you know, far right movement, sometimes called the alt right, but it consists of, you know, a number of different groups that were and are very social media savvy. And they lent themselves—they threw their weight behind—and their energies and their efforts behind, behind Donald Trump. And, and so this this shift in our politics, from the old way of doing things where you had to kind of play it safe. And there was a kind of rulebook that you had to follow if you were running for president. That rulebook changed completely first with Obama, and then with Trump and now it’s a bit of a mess. One thing we can say for certain is that you cannot win if you don’t play the social media game.

KENT DAVIES: Back to our research question: How are we trolling ourselves to death? According to Hannan, it’s the mainstreaming of trolling that is particularly alarming. What was once dishonest, malicious attacks hidden behind anonymous personas online, is now acceptable behaviour in the public discourse.[xiv]

JASON HANNAN: So they’ve mainstreamed the social media culture, unfortunately, what comes with that is a mainstreaming of trolling. And so we have lots of politicians on the platforms who have turned trolling into part of their political brand. So there are Republicans like Ted Cruz, for example, who will troll some demographic. And this is a way for him, he thinks to increase and solidify his political popularity, right? Trolling as a form of political marketing. And unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more normal amongst politicians. And then you know, there are businesses that do troll marketing. It’s just become so everyday and commonplace that we’ve entirely taken it for granted.

KENT DAVIES: Not only has trolling been normalized, it’s been incentivized through organized campaigns and troll farms in which candidates, parties and governments pay trolls to harass and spread disinformation.[xv] Furthermore, corporations, platforms and websites now routinely use troll tactics as clickbait to elicit a response.[xvi]

JASON HANNAN: It’s turned out to be politically lucrative, and economically lucrative. If there’s gain to be had, then it’ll get it’ll get adopted and appropriated and incorporated into political practice, into business practices for marketing. It’s just, become so normalized now. And I think it’s sad. So, the same way that entertainment became normalized, as Postman was talking about in his book. It became the way for politicians to campaign, to be entertaining. And entertainment also became as a way for businesses to sell their products. Trolling has now been has been added to that to that repertoire unfortunately.

KENT DAVIES: By spreading misinformation, increasing divisive and polarizing content, suppressing dissent, manipulating public opinion, and undermining trust in institutions, trolling has become increasingly dangerous and difficult to stop.[xvii] While many online platforms have policies against hate speech, the use of bots, fake accounts, it can be extremely difficult to enforce.[xviii] Especially when some platform owners are reluctant to enforce anything at all.[xix] Resulting in very little consequences for the platforms, the politicians, their campaigns or even the trolls themselves.

To maintain a healthy democratic system, it is essential to address trolling and its negative effects on society. Hannan contends this requires more than a significant regulatory, and technological intervention.

JASON HANNAN: It’s entrenched in everyone’s lives. And part of the problem with proposing technological or structural fixes, is that these proposals, presume that we can do this all in one place, right. So, the idea of, let’s turn them all into public utilities. Well, let’s say you agree to do that in the United States that would only work for American companies. But what do you do about tik-tok? That’s a Chinese company, right? These proposals either to offer a technological fix, where, you know, the algorithm will be changed, or maybe the graphical user interface will change, or a structural fix along the lines of let’s turn them into public utilities, or let’s break them up, or let’s regulate them; these I think don’t really go far enough. And if trolling existed prior to the emergence of these platforms, then clearly fixing the platforms isn’t going to be enough. I don’t discount these proposals. I’m not against breaking them up or, you know, changing the algorithm or eliminating it altogether. I would love to see them bring people together rather than put us into competition with each other. I think they’re inherently competitive. And, you know, I think it would be good if they did not sell people the illusion of, of friendship on a screen. I don’t think that screens are the way that we can kind of get a sense of social fulfillment. I think we do have a collective sense of just how, you know, anti-social these platforms are yet for a lot of people who happen to be isolated. This is still the only kind of way for them to connect. And so it’s like they keep turning to the poison, right, because they don’t feel like they have much of a choice. And I think this is a sad commentary on the fact that we have allowed, community to be undermined in so many different ways, right? There was there was a lot of discussion about this well before the age of social media. Robert Putnam, wrote about this in his book Bowling Alone. How social capital has been steadily deteriorating over the last several decades. And he was writing about that, I think, in the 90s.

KENT DAVIES: Hannan argues that focusing on education is a way to counter misinformation, promote media literacy, and foster an environment that encourages open and respectful dialogue.[xx] 

JASON HANNAN: So, I think what we need to do is to invest in community. And I think schools are one place where we can do this. I think we need to aggressively invest in public education. Invest in the arts and the humanities. I think schools are a wonderful place in which to bring people together to create community to create and to cultivate conversation to cultivate a conversational ethos. And I think that can happen, you know, in grade school, we don’t need to wait until university. I would love to see this shift from what Paulo Freire called the banking model of education that one way, kind of, you know, top down model of education, to an interactive social collective model that Paulo Freire, and bell hooks talk about in their books, right? That to me is going to be what I suggest, the most promising way for us to at least rebuild something of a kind of civic ethos. A spirit of social solidarity. If we want spaces of trust, well, that’s not going to come from the sky, we need to build them. And building that comes with a cost. So, if we want schools to serve this purpose, then we need to properly fund schools. Schools are horribly underfunded, I think in our province, and in many other provinces. And in the United States academic infrastructure is falling apart. It’s really heartbreaking and tragic. And I think that needs to be reversed. And so that means paying teachers proper salaries. I think we should stop academic exploitation. I think in the United States, adjuncts are— they form 70% of the teaching staff in higher education. Which is just really sad to think about. That needs to change, and they need to be given a path to permanent employment. We need smaller classrooms. I think we need to make classrooms accessible. And I would love to see tuition completely waived like it has been in many countries in Europe, so that it’s much more accessible. I think there are these practical steps that we can take that are not, you know, in the realm of fantasy, I mean, they’ve done it elsewhere. We can do it here. Steps that we can take here that can strengthen, bolster public education, and can cultivate and build a culture of trust, which I think is badly needed to counter the culture of distrust unfortunately that’s eating away at our society.

KENT DAVIES: Investing in education, and engaging in healthy social political discourse is not only something Hannan advocates for, but practices regularly in his classes at the University of Winnipeg.

JASON HANNAN: bell hooks talks in her in her work about open learning communities. And so the teacher is not the sole person who creates the classroom, the classroom environment, the conversation throughout the term throughout the year is something that we together build in the classroom. And so I make it very clear in my own classes, that this is something that we’re going to be doing together. And so I invite them to join the discussion, they’re a little bit nervous at first. But once they get used to it, they really, really enjoy it. And they feel a sense of responsibility to contribute. When they disagree, I’ve been very impressed with how maturely they handle it. It’s a completely different, you know, quality of discussion than what you might find on, you know, CNN or one of these, you know, channels that seem to love creating boxing matches between two different sides. And I think is precisely the kind of thing that encourages this immaturity and in our in our political discourse. Whereas classrooms, I’ve noticed that young people, they want to keep it civil, they don’t shy away from disagreement, but they do so in a way that is respectful. That’s really valuable. I think they need to have that opportunity. They need to have that chance to see what a different kind of political discourse can be like. And so schools offer that opportunity. And I think we should be doing everything we can as teachers to provide that to them. And then in turn, yes, I benefit a lot. I’ve workshopped some of my ideas in the classroom with my students, they’ve given me so much feedback. I’ve learned a lot from them in turn.


KENT DAVIES: You’ve been listening to Research Question. Research Question is produced by the University of Winnipeg Research Office and the Oral History Centre.

The University of Winnipeg is located on Treaty 1 Territory, the heartland of the Metis people.

Written, narrated and produced by Kent Davies.

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Thanks for listening.


[i] Maeve Duggan, “How Platforms Are poisoning Conversations,” The Atlantic, May 11, 2017. Accessed Jan 12, 2024; Matt Fleming, “American Political Discourse Is Poisoned by Social Media and Hate,” Orange County Register, March 25, 2022. Accessed, Jan 12, 2024; Michelle Goldberg. “Democracy grief is real: Seeing what Trump is doing to America, many find it hard to fight off despair.” The New York Times, December 13, 2019. Accessed Jan 10, 2024; Marsha Lederman, “The Bullies Are Taking Over Our Politics and Our Culture,” Globe and Mail, November 4, 2022. Accessed Jan 12, 2024; Nagle, Angela. Kill all normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right. John Hunt Publishing, 2017; Jonathan Rose. “Brexit, Trump, and post-truth politics.” Public Integrity 19, no. 6 (2017): 555-558. Accessed Jan 10, 2024; Asta Zelenkauskaite, Creating chaos online: Disinformation and subverted post-publics. University of Michigan Press, 2022. 

[ii] Michael Hoeschsmann, and Miranda McKee. “Truck Fudeau: Algorithms, Conspiracy and Radicalization.” Norteamérica 18, no. 1 (2023): 355-376; Sandra Jeppesen, Henry Giroux, Michael Hoechsmann, Chenjerai Kumanyika, David VanDyke, and Miranda McKee. The Capitol riots: digital media, disinformation, and democracy under attack. Routledge, 2022; Maja Šimunjak, Tweeting Brexit: social media and the aftermath of the EU referendum. Routledge, 2022.

[iii] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024; Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015.

[iv] Robin Tolmach Lakoff. “The hollow man: Donald Trump, populism, and post-truth politics.” Journal of Language and Politics 16, no. 4 (2017): 595-606; Lee McIntyre. Post-truth. MIT Press, 2018; Antonio Reyes. “I, Trump: The cult of personality, anti-intellectualism and the Post-Truth era.” Journal of Language and Politics 19, no. 6 (2020): 869-892; Ken Wilber Trump and a post-truth world. Shambhala Publications, 2017. 

[v] Neil Postman. Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business. Penguin, 1985.

[vi] Alasdair MacIntyre. After virtue. A&C Black, 2013.

[vii] Alasdair MacIntyre. After virtue. A&C Black, 2013.

[viii] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 39.

[ix] Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015. 6.

[x] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 4-6. Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015. 19-26; Madelyn Sanfilippo, Shengnan Yang, and Pnina Fichman. “Trolling here, there, and everywhere: Perceptions of trolling behaviors in context.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 68, no. 10 (2017): 2313-2327. Evita March. “Psychopathy, sadism, empathy, and the motivation to cause harm: New evidence confirms malevolent nature of the Internet Troll.” Personality and Individual Differences 141 (2019): 133-137;  Stephanie M. Ortiz “Trolling as a collective form of harassment: An inductive study of how online users understand trolling.” Social Media+ Society 6, no. 2 (2020); Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015. 153-170. Madelyn R. Sanfilippo, Pnina Fichman, and Shengnan Yang. “Multidimensionality of online trolling behaviors.” The Information Society 34, no. 1 (2018): 27-39.

[xi] Naomi Craker and Evita March. “The dark side of Facebook®: The Dark Tetrad, negative social potency, and trolling behaviours.” Personality and Individual Differences 102 (2016): 79-84; Maeve Duggan, “How Platforms Are poisoning Conversations,” The Atlantic, May 11, 2017. Accessed Jan 9, 2023; Tim Owen, Wayne Noble, and Faye Christabel Speed. “Trolling, the ugly face of the social network.” New perspectives on cybercrime (2017): 113-139; Devan Rosen. The social media debate: Unpacking the social, psychological, and cultural effects of social media. Routledge, 2022.

[xii] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 82-101.

[xiii] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 19-28.

[xiv] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 22-23.

[xv] Karen Hao “Troll farms reached 140 Americans a month on Facebook before 2020 elections internal report shows,” MIT Technology Review, September 16, 2021. Accessed Jan 12, 2024; Darren L. Linvill, and Patrick L. Warren. “Troll factories: Manufacturing specialized disinformation on Twitter.” Political Communication 37, no. 4 (2020): 447-467; “Inside the troll army waging Trump’s online campaign,” New York Times, December 13, 2023, Accessed Jan 13, 2024; Savvas Zannettou, Tristan Caulfield, William Setzer, Michael Sirivianos, Gianluca Stringhini, and Jeremy Blackburn. “Who let the trolls out? towards understanding state-sponsored trolls.” In Proceedings of the 10th ACM conference on web science, pp. 353-362. 2019.

[xvi] Nicole Gallucci. “13 of the absolute best and worst brand trolls in recent history,” Mashable, October 22, 2018. Accessed Jan 12, 2024; Kaul, Sumit, “Exploring trolling in marketing.” Techcircle, December 7, 2023. Accessed Jan 12. 2023. 

[xvii] Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015. 153-169.

[xviii] Bharath Ganesh, and Jonathan Bright. “Countering extremists on social media: challenges for strategic communication and content moderation.” Policy & Internet 12, no. 1 (2020): 6-19; Ysabel Gerrard. “Beyond the hashtag: Circumventing content moderation on social media.” New Media & Society 20, no. 12 (2018): 4492-4511; Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024.  128-129; Whitney Phillips. This is why we can’t have nice things: Mapping the relationship between online trolling and mainstream culture. Mit Press, 2015. 153-169; Alyssa Newcomb. “Whose responsibility is it to police content of Facebook?” NBC News, May 9 , 2017; Greyson K. Yong. “How much is too much: the difficulties of social media content moderation.” Information & Communications Technology Law 31, no. 1 (2022): 1-16.

[xix] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024. 122-124; Nicholas Kulish. “Elon Musk’s Latest Innovation: Troll Philanthropy.” International New York Times. Dec 10, 2021. Accessed Jan 14, 2024; Brian L. Ott, and Carrisa S. Hoelscher. “The Digital Authoritarian: On the Evolution and Spread of Toxic Leadership.” World 4, no. 4 (2023): 726-744.

[xx] Jason Hannon. Trolling Ourselves to Death: Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Oxford University Press, 2024.  128-129.