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Sock Puppeteering, is defined as “A method of trolling in which the troll takes on the name of another user or celebrity, and uses their alternate identity to fool and control members of an internet community.” Traces of “sock puppeteering” can be found in even the earliest social networking communities, such as USENET, but also fairly new forums, such as Joomla. Cases of Pseudonyms are not to be confused with sockpuppeteering, unlike Pseudonism, the Sock Puppet knows that He/She is not the alias they have adopted online.
Notable Cases of SockPuppets In Today’s Culture
Notable examples involving public figures in recent years include:
John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, who, between 2000 and 2003, posted under the “sockpuppet” name of “Mary Rosh”, praising Lott’s teaching, and arguing with Lott’s critics on Usenet. The name was also used to post outstanding reviews of his books, and panning books of rivals on online book sites. Lott admitted he had frequently used the name “Mary Rosh” to defend himself, but claimed the book reviews by “Mary Rosh” were written by his son and wife.
Lee Siegel, writer for The New Republic magazine, was suspended for defending his articles and blog comments using the user name “Sprezzatura”. One such comment, defending Siegel’s bad reviews of Jon Stewart: “Siegel is brave, brilliant and wittier than Stewart will ever be.”
Apparently, a group of users on Youtube used various sock puppet accounts to gain political and religious allies and attention on said video sharing site. This enraged many youtube users and sparked many video responses and parodies.
In 2006, a top staffer for then-US Congressman Charlie Bass (R-NH) was caught posing as a “concerned” supporter of Bass’s opponent Democrat Paul Hodes on several liberal New Hampshire blogs, using the pseudonyms “IndieNH” or “IndyNH”. “IndyNH” was “concerned” that Democrats might just be wasting their time or money on Hodes, because Bass was “unbeatable”.
In January 2007, the press secretary of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Peter Ragone, admitted that he posted pro-Newsom comments to the blog SFist from his computer variously as “John Nelson” (a friend) or as “Byorn.” The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ragone stated that "he answered Newsom’s critics using others’ names because being online ‘was fun -- it’s where people are having fun.’ "
In 2007, the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, was discovered to have posted on the Yahoo Finance Message Board, extolling his own company and predicting a dire future for their rival Wild Oats Markets while concealing his own relationship to both companies under the screen name “Rahodeb”.
On January 13, 2009, a councillor from Bournemouth, England Ben Grower was exposed by the Daily Echo newspaper for repeatedly posting comments praising himself, and fellow Labour councillors, on the newspaper’s website using many sockpuppets, one of which was named “Omegaman”. When questioned about the matter Grower was initially ambiguous in his response but later he admitted it was true saying “I have done nothing against the law. And probably next time I will just use a different pseudonym.” The story of Grower’s sockpuppetry was covered widely in the media.
In April 2010 the British historian Orlando Figes was exposed as having written critical reviews of books by professional rivals on the Amazon website under the name ‘historian’.
Many online communities have also criticized some segments of Christianity for creating accounts on Youtube, MySpace, and many other social networking/ video sharing sites in order to promote Theist beliefs among Internet dwellers.
Information on This and many other methods of trolling- www.artoftrolling.com
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