Weaponized Sarcasm as a Troll Tactic on Social Media
Hate trolls on The Goyim Know forum recently discussed how to use sarcasm to spread anti-Semitic memes without triggering anti-hate speech mechanisms on social media, a common and effective troll tactic also seen in the #FakeAntifa smear campaign.
On March 20, 2018, a user by the name of evolvefest suggested a “go around strategy” for disseminating “the most vile Antisemitism memes” on social media websites.
The troll recommended posting the following graphic with this caption:
I am shocked and outraged by this blatant Antisemitism! Where can I donate to the ADL???
A second user also advised toggling the audience settings of hate albums to maximize their impact:
make album for friends or friends of friends only.
upload all you want to.
never get taken down…
then change to public/everybody once in while.
Sarcasm is a device often weaponized by trolls to better spread hate sentiment on social media. Moreover, it also serves as a defensive mechanism to mask trolls’ true intentions and identities from users.
Evolvefest’s statement, “I am shocked and outraged by this blatant Antisemitism,” is sarcastic as hell considering that a cyber-supremacist wrote it. It may also help the post elude anti-hate speech detection because it creates two possible narratives:
- The post (text+image) was published by an anti-Semite because the image is anti-Semitic.
- The post was made by a person genuinely distressed about “blatant Antisemitism” on the platform, and shared the image to better express themselves.
To someone charged with investigating hate speech reports, intent is not explicitly apparent, which may protect the troll from getting their post removed.
Weaponized sarcasm is also present in the #FakeAntifa campaign, a ongoing troll operation dedicated to smearing Antifa with fake news and racist memes, particularly on Twitter.
For instance, on June 11, 2017, @FW_Antifa shared a video uploaded by Based Baseness, a right-wing Twitter account, in which a “degenerate Antifa rioter” was neutralized by a police officer.
“An excellent example of police brutality towards our Antifa brothers in arms!” Fort Worth Antifa mockingly replied. “We need to keep fighting if we are tow in over these fascists.”
Unsurprisingly, the tweet was met with hostility. One user jeered that the troll account only had 9 followers at the time.
Another even challenged the “slack jawed faggots” to “settle our differences the good ole fashioned way.”
Another example of weaponized sarcasm in the #FakeAntifa campaign was seen on December 18, 2017, when the South Shore Antifa Facebook page shared an anti-Antifa image that claimed “92% of Antifa thugs still live with their parents.”
“Nah,” South Shore begged to differ, “it’s only 89% of us that still live with our parents.”
In all of these examples, including evolvefest and his blatant anti-Semitism, trolls use weaponized sarcasm to conceal their true intentions and identities in order to better nurture hateful ideas on social media — all under the guise of authenticity.
But this isn’t the most unsettling tactic used by online trolls, poor souls who have gone as low as capitalizing on tragedy to attack their ideological enemies.