It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are being spied on by the state. When Jim Sillars said in mid-2014 he was aware of the arrival in Glasgow of British Army intelligence officers from London, we had every reason to trust him. Even if he was lying it would have been the truth regardless; if military intelligence wasn’t watching us and actively working to undermine our campaign, it wouldn’t be doing its job. That is the job of the secret services.
Recently, I have attracted the attention of such a troll. This person, as is to be expected, has an anonymous profile and uses that anonymity to bully and intimidate social media users who happen to disagree with his “radical” political opinions. Over the past couple of weeks pro-independence bloggers have been putting out fires started by an accusation by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and the leadership of the GMB Labour-affiliated trade union that a blog published by the pro-independence blogger Gareth Wardell was an anti-Semitic attack levelled at GMB activist Rhea Wolfson.
Accounts of this type are not interested in discussion. They routinely insinuate themselves into ongoing conversations pretending to be ordinary people – giving no indication of their political position – and work, if given the chance, to derail the discussion and waste people’s time. When this tactic fails, or when they are discovered and called out, they resort to personal abuse and threats in an effort to drive people away from the conversation.
Democracy in Scotland is being distorted by the Russians – Russians who are actually British. The media in the UK is keen to propagate the idea that Vladimir Putin has “troll farms” in St Petersburg suburbs dedicated to a subversive project of undermining the west – which no doubt he does, but it’s saying nothing of the troll farms dotted all over the UK doing exactly the same in Scotland.
Internet trolls – especially in the political sphere – have a number of functions. They are a distraction. Trolls will engage activists in petty arguments, and, of course, the activist, taking this as a teaching opportunity, will happily go down the rabbit hole. It’s pointless. No argument will convince them of the merits of independence. They don’t even have a vote. Most likely the person on the other side is in an office in Wolverhampton following the instructions pinned to their blue cubical wall.
Follow @UrFhasaidh If you are one of those people who think that Twitter bots are annoying, then you may take some satisfaction in knowing that a bot is a nightmare to create. Last week I spent an entire night programming my very first Twitter bot from the husk of a previous Twitter account. My reason … Continue reading ‘Words Smith’ is Filling Twitter with Beautiful Things