Here at The Truth About Guns, we communicate a pro-gun, informative message. Obviously we draw a lot of The People of the Gun as our readership. We also attract readers who don’t share our love of things that go bang, and that’s OK, too. Maybe they’ll learn something.
But it seems that a handful of people who aren’t fans of firearms — let alone the right to keep and bear arms — spend a lot of time stirring the pot in comments in these here parts.
This seems to have grown more common in recent months. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t help but wonder if at least a couple of our friendly provocateurs might actually earn a paycheck for their work.
During the last election cycle, the LA Times wrote about the use of professional trolls and their efforts to shape public opinion:
Hillary Clinton’s well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet’s worst instincts. Correct the Record, a super PAC coordinating with Clinton’s campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.
That’s right…Clinton’s supporters spent good money “correcting the record” via trolls. Why? Because they know publicizing the facts was having an actual effect on low information types. As these people began to learn more about Hillary, the less they liked. So Hillary supporters had to do something to stem the hemorrhage of “I’m with her” types.
More from the LA Times:
“It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical,” said Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital.
…”It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”
In other words, it’s Astroturf.
From the Urban Dictionary:
Creating the impression of public support by paying people in the public to pretend to be supportive.
The false support can take the form of letters to the editor, postings on message boards in response to criticism, and writing to politicians in support of the cause.
For a prime example of anti-gun Astroturf in action, see: March for our Lives.
Here at TTAG, we have at least one agent provocateur (rhymes with ‘glad’) who spends more time posting comments than I spend writing stories. And I’m on the staff. Either he has a lot of free time or he does this (and who knows what else, wherever else) for a paycheck.
How many others might also fill that bill? Who knows. Maybe none. Maybe I’m just paranoid.
I’m flattered that we might have people who are actually paid to agitate here at TTAG. But I suspect I’m not the only one growing tired of the trolling in comments.
What sayeth the rest of you?