Examining “controlled opposition,” or when someone pretends to be their own enemy to undermine how outsiders see that person or group, in this episode Bait looks at how post-truth is also post-trust, a constant undermining of internet personas by the proliferation of sock puppet accounts who often get journalists to report on their, quite literally, “fake news,” in turn undermining faith in those journalists, at least to the more media savvy.
Not content just sticking to their favorite pastimes of harassing women and spreading racist memes, these trolls try to counter people who try to tell it directly—like Antifa—by undermining their credibility and even making them seem violent and dangerous.
And of course, when someone cries foul, they cry free speech, calling others “snowflakes” for being too “sensitive” to things like racism, misogyny, and transphobia, as if those don’t have real consequences and as if their language and forums don’t encourage the white terrorists in their midst.
These trolls are playing a game that no one else consented to play, which begs the question, is it a game at all? The answer is almost definitely, no. Especially when there are very real consequences like very real violence.