August 3, 2012
The U.S. State Department wants to deploy a cruel new weapon in the War on Terror: the Internet troll.
Wired’s Spencer Ackerman reports that a project called Viral Peace will use harassment and irrelevant comments—the troll’s favorite tools—to disrupt jihadi forums and online communities. Eventually, the hope is, this tactic will hurt Islamist extremists’ virtual recruiting. “Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage,” writes Ackerman.
Viral Peace creator Shahed Amanullah told Wired he hopes to utilize “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.” This past spring, Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere started Trolling 101 training, under the premise that Muslims will know best how to agitate the extremist communities. After all, trolling is a subtle art.