Vienna, September 26, 2021
by Edward Steen, Secretary-General
Trolling is about political manipulation. Troll-farms in North Macedonia and elsewhere serve, or served, both Trump and Vladimir Putin. But as has now been revealed, apart from banal malevolence, the anonymous trolls themselves and the sites that spread their poison are mostly interested in making money.
Thanks to a vast data breach, the identity of 110,000 mischief-makers and those behind the profitable but secretive sites that host their poison have been exposed. The details of what the Anonymous hacker site discovered about the Epik company, based near Seattle, are revealed in The Washington Post in a detailed article headlined Fallout begins for far-right trolls who trusted Epik to keep their identities secret
The breach has been termed “the mother of all data lodes” for extremism researchers. Some of those named in the data have already lost their jobs. What is most striking about businesses like Epik is the purity of their motives – the point is only about making money.