For all the good the internet’s done, it’s also created a whole new problem for people and brands alike… the internet troll. Sometimes funny, sometimes irritating and occasionally downright diabolical, trolls are everywhere online.
They mock, abuse and confuse whenever the chance arises, all behind the comforting mask of anonymity. If knowledge is power, this article will give you the power to avoid being trolled, by exploring ten times people got trolled HARD by the internet…
10. Prankster Support
Big companies train their social media teams to always reply in an exceptionally friendly manner. Unfortunately, their friendliness and willingness to humor even the most ridiculous-sounding complaints and queries naturally attracts trolls like honey.
One classic example sees Twitter user, Haraam flagging up UK-based supermarket chain, Tesco, for a store selling 2-week out of date food. When very nicely asked where he bought it, Haaram – naturally – declares that he’s not a grass, and refuses to elaborate.
Another British man claimed to have seen a snake in a Tesco store. He received a response from a concerned member of the Tesco team, but eventually concluded that – in fact – the snake was actually just his ex. As far as I know, Tesco doesn’t offer ex-relationship therapy, but this guy needs some.
Similarly, a user with the simple, tasteful moniker ‘fart’ got in touch with Qdoba Mexican Grill, expressing concern over a man with a diaper drinking directly from a restaurant’s soda fountain. When asked for more details on what he’d witnessed, fart revealed that he hadn’t actually been reporting an observation, but was instead asking if that type of thing was allowed. You know, so he could go ahead and have a nice drink in style.
Xbox’s customer service department were also seething after user Lonely_Dad asked for help. Xbox Support were more than happy to help. But Lonely_Dad, living up his name, simply replied with ‘Why did my wife leave me?’ I’m sure Xbox has been the cause of a few divorces, but customer support might not be the best people to field that question.
9. Trolls And Polls
What could be better to attract attention to a company or cause than getting the public to vote on something with real-world outcomes? What could possibly go wrong?
Famously, in 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council in the UK held a poll for the name of a new research vessel, and the public valiantly delivered. The result was a landslide. The boat was to be called… Boaty McBoatface. Unfortunately, the Research Council didn’t seem to find this boat-sized troll funny. They ignored the name, going instead for “Sir David Attenborough”.
They did, however, name one of the onboard submersible vehicles Boaty McBoatface, which is a happy middle ground. Though, as a submersible, they should’ve called it Subby McMersible.
But before McBoatface, there was a whale. After a 2007 poll started by Greenpeace to raise awareness of the threat posed to whales by Japanese fishing practices, a humpback whale was officially named Mr. Splashy Pants.
Humphrey came in second with less than 3% of the vote. The result came after message boards like 4chan, Reddit and Digg caught wind of the poll. Seeing the potential for top-tier trolling, they bombarded it with votes. Greenpeace honored democracy, and they still track Mr. Splashy Pants to observe his movements around the South Pacific.
But it’s not just governmental agencies and charities that have foolishly let the internet make decisions. In 2012, TV channel VH1 held a contest to determine the location for a Taylor Swift concert… and the irony-loving trolls of the internet decided on a Boston school for the deaf. Though the star decided against playing the spot, she did donate $10,000 to the school, with free tickets to Taylor’s next Boston appearance being offered to every pupil. Hopefully subtitles were available.
While many brands have since cottoned onto the potential attention afforded by humorous responses to polls, these three were the O.G. victims of the troll poll and will be forever enshrined in internet history.
8. The Hot New Trend
Occasionally, internet jokesters initiate ridiculous trends and events by spreading fake news articles or photoshopping semi-believable images, before sitting back and letting chaos ensue. One journalist, for example, published an entirely bogus ‘medical journal’ article, which suggested dark chocolate was miraculously helpful in weight loss. This was then picked up as ‘real’ by countless big-name news sites and even TV stations, making headlines, before its author revealed the trickery.
But perhaps the greatest fake trend of all time occurred in 2014. A series of fake ads were put into circulation for a system update that would allow iPhones to be charged using ANY household microwave!
The ads weren’t incredibly convincing, but – astonishingly – the campaign, which began on 4Chan, convinced plenty of people to microwave their phones. Obviously, this caused fires, broken microwaves, and even exploding phones.
Several fire departments sent out emergency messages, but it’s hard to imagine the brave men and women working for them not laughing – or possibly crying – at how gullible people can be…
7. Ken M
If 4Chan is home of cruel trolling, then Reddit is its kinder, slightly more manageable sibling. And one troll, taking on the character of a dimwitted older gentleman named Ken M, is so appreciated by the site that he has his very own subreddit with 491,000 subscribers! Ken is of the customer-support-commenting school of trolls, and his work spans hundreds of hilarious posts.
There’s the time he asked Gerber to ‘Bring back the cheap baby kibble that folks could buy at the pet store’. Then there’s Ken’s unusual preference for combining Chef Boyardee with books and magazines. Just like momma used to make. And who could forget his strongly-held belief that clean diapers are a privilege, not a right, for his grandson? And, of course, Ken’s long discussion on In-n-Out Burger’s Facebook page about how they… used to be Arby’s? KenM is the role model of every little troll dreaming of becoming internet famous.
6. Bald As Love
In 2012, a 4Chan troll photoshopped a fake Entertainment Tonight tweet about Justin Bieber having cancer. This image gained traction, spawning a stream of other accounts claiming Justin’s fans were going ‘bald for Bieber’ in solidarity with their idol.
Then the trend caught on, among some fans who were a little too eager to grab the shaver. Though the trend didn’t catch on to the extent its original creator had hoped, as most Beliebers kept their locks firmly on their heads, it was popular enough to gain widespread media attention. For anyone who was gullible enough to Belieb the hoax, considering all the situations extreme stupidity can get you into, I guess this bald move wasn’t all that bad.
5. King Of The Trolls
In 2017, Burger King attempted to be clever and edgy by triggering all Google Home devices within the listening range of one of their TV ads. The line “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” prompted any nearby units to describe the burger, including ingredients, as listed on its Wikipedia page.
But the internet rallied together, turning the rather invasive joke around on Burger King, by adding ‘cyanide’ to the Wiki’s ingredients list. Of course, this meant that all over the USA, families were being dutifully informed that Burger King’s most popular product was poisonous. Most of America was shocked and appalled to discover that burgers are bad for you, of all things…
4. Pride And Accomplishment
In 2017, the internet was up in arms about EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 game. It required players to spend real-world money to unlock some of the franchise’s most loved characters. Unless – of course – they wanted to spend dozens of hours earning in-game credits, that is.
Trying to prove they had customer interests at heart, EA commented on a Reddit thread complaining about the disservice to fans. The representative claimed the system was in place to ‘provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes.’ And not, as it seems, to make the company a butt-load of money. This attempt at damage control was about as successful as a fighter pilot with narcolepsy.
Reddit users were outraged, and the whole ‘pride and accomplishment’ thing soon became a viral meme. Meanwhile, the comment became the most downvoted in the site’s history. With almost 700,000 downvotes, it gained media attention and secured EA’s place as a source of intense frustration among the gaming community. Trolls continue to plague EA to this day, posting about pride and accomplishment whenever and wherever they can.
3. Seizure Warning Not Included
Back in 2008, hackers from the websites Ebaum’s world and 7chan grouped together and managed to post some pretty inappropriate stuff on the Epilepsy Foundation’s forum site. These forums allow people to share how they deal with their epilepsy. They are obviously intended as a safe space for sufferers of the disease. Unsurprisingly, governed by their twisted senses of humor, trolls chose to pepper the site with jarring strobe-light gifs. These would appear at random, and could only be stopped by exiting the site.
Forum users soon began reporting that they’d suffered seizures from the hacked site. It is the last thing they’d expect in such a place. While corporate mishaps and gullible fangirls make for great troll fodder, targeting the physically vulnerable crosses a line. It shows the immature, ugly side of trolling that can be all too easily forgotten.
2. Mourning Margaret: The Musical
In 2013, there were literal parties in the street when ex British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, died. Sure, that makes the people of the UK sound pretty bad, but she was an extremely polarizing politician with some relentless and controversial policies. When she died, aged 87, some of her biggest anti-fans united on Facebook to promote listening to a famous Wizard of Oz tune in Maggie’s memory. That song was none other than ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’.
The inherently British idea spread like wildfire. The tune sold over 52,000 copies and reached number two in the UK Singles Chart, and number one in the Scottish Singles Chart. Despite being 74 years old, the track was given new life and new meaning, in the strange, strange times of the internet age. Two of the surviving actors who played munchkins in the 1939 film even publicly voiced their views on the whole affair, stating that they were ashamed the song had been used in such a way. But maybe they’d be better off getting used to the obscenity of the modern world; after all, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
1. Locked Tight
Personal info protection company Lifelock claims that, for a mere $10 a month, it can prevent the theft of your identity. Their ads of years past have claimed that even if criminals have your social security number, you’re still safe with Lifelock. CEO, Todd Davis, was so darn sure of this claim that he published his actual, legitimate social security number on billboards, websites and various other ads throughout America.
Predictably, the trolls could not resist. This brought a whole new meaning to social security – as his social security number was shared around social media like a communion wafer. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, the stubborn businessman’s identity was stolen thirteen times. Thousands of dollars of charges and small-sum loans have been run up in his name since those facepalm-worthy ads first launched, which doesn’t look great for Lifelock. Though, to be fair, I can’t imagine many customers are dumb enough to tempt the criminals and trolls out there by plastering their social security details on billboards. That role’s reserved for the CEO, as is a dunce cap emblazoned with his bank account details.
But the company head wasn’t the only one at risk. The whole fiasco triggered various investigations, culminating with the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission noting that Lifelock’s security systems contained holes big enough to drive a truck through. A truck filled with trolls, presumably, with Todd’s social security number printed in bold on the side!
Trolls really tell us a lot about how humans might act without the responsibility of consequences for our actions. I hope you’ve learned how to spot one, but most importantly, remember… NEVER FEED THE INTERNET TROLLS!
Which Internet troll did you find the most interesting? What’s the funniest troll you’ve seen carried out online? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
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