There has long been a well-founded suspicion that many of the climate denial trolls are not human beings expressing an opinion.
This statement is not a slander. It means that a great deal of what infects social media is generated by algorithms programmed into computer systems that target the internet for material relating to climate change.
It does not only happen with this issue. A similar strategy is applied to other concerns. But it is global warming that is receiving the most attention at this time.
The hallmark of the strategy is not to counter something through proper argument and presentation of evidence to back the argument, but to rely on personal abuse, claim fake news, and in the case of climate warming, suggest that real scientists agree climate warming is a hoax.
A handful of themes are repeated endlessly. Offensive memes are used. Misinformation videos have been created and circulated.
Since the very successful global climate strike the trolling has escalated, and The Pen is one of the many targets.
For all of us, this is a matter to be aware of and not to not be taken in by this manipulated abuse of free speech. We must expose it for what it is.
These operations, of course, exist within a shadowy world. Finding out what is going on in there is not easy. But enough is starting to see the light of day to give us a very good idea of who is behind them.
There are the obvious cases where individuals like researcher Willie Soon at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, a favourite of the deniers, has been found to have received $1.2 million from oil Giant Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, and the American Petroleum Institute.
Unfortunately, Individual corruption like this is only a small part of what is going on. We must look further to get the complete pictutre.
Back in 2014 the role of Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries in funding climate denial organisations in the United States was made public.
A Google App is used to link individual to climate denial websites. Facebook has teamed up with CheckYuorFact, which despite its nonpartisan claim, is an offshoot of the anti-science media site The Daily Caller. This association is supposed to be to monitor fake news.
Greenpeace revealed that between 1997 and 2017, the Koch organisation has funneled more than $127 million to 92 climate denial organisations. Some of them go by the name of science and research organisations.
Exxon Mobil is still funding certain think tanks and other climate denial organisations and partisan media. Money is being handed out to what are often seen as being something different, like the American Council on Science and Health, where Exxon Mobil has secured its own people onto its Board.
What has this got to do with Australia and social media trolls? A lot actually.
In the first place, what is occurring in Australia is largely generated from the United States. The money trail leads to the organisations with the capability of carrying out systematic and large-scale trolling.
let’s just name two prominent trolls.
Arron Banks is the multimillionaire owner of finance company BVI, happens to have been the number one backer of Nigel Farage and UKIP in Britain. He gave them more than $15 million.
This was revealed in the Panama Papers. Banks is also an avid social media user has the ambition of creating a new political movement. His business interests extend into security and intelligence and business lobbying. He runs a website called Westmonster.
David Vance is involved with altnewsmedia, a prominent hate politics site. This is what is says about itself. We firmly believe that there is an extremely toxic (mainly liberal) media out there…We officially challenge Fake News media…We will not say away from global problems caused by Islam.”
Altnewsmedia also runs campaigns against LGTB rights and of course, promotes climate change denial.
We must all understand that this is a systematic, well-funded and organised campaign by those benefiting from the carbon emissions industry and don’t want the party to end. They use their financial, political and media connections to try to undermine action that contributes to upsetting this.
There are also the mimics, who unquestioningly take up the themes. But they are a secondary concern.
These are the objectives of the trolls.
To distract attention from the issues being discussed. The troll becomes the subject and the point that the original point was trying to say is lost.
Discredit science because it is not convenient. The attack on science is also designed to intimidate scientists and encourage them to keep quiet about the results of their research.
Large scale manufactured trolling always has the ambition of creating an illusion of public opinion. This becomes more important when the real public opinion is on the other side. The illusion is used to dishearten those who speak out and our active.
Combating the trolls is much less about censoring them, than it is about ensuring that they do not achieve their objectives.