Internet Troll is a colloquial expression describing any person(s) who uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to instigate, tease, provoke or incite to anger other online users or groups of online users. Their primary goal is to illicit and instigate a negative response from their provocations. For most Internet Trolls, their modus operandi is a perceptually distorted sense of personal gain rooted in feeling pride, power, control and self-worth by causing others distress and frustration.
Motivated by what this writer calls being successful Online Provocateurs & Cyber Hecklers, an Internet Troll’s sense of power and control is directly correlated to the volume and depth of distress and anger they cause others. Given that their feelings of power and control are directly linked to the amount of negativity they cause others, the Internet Troll is driven by the adage “The More Online Pain, The More Troll Gain”.
Internet Trolls are online user response dependent seeking feelings of power when there is confirmation of the anguish they cause others. So entrenched in this cyber illusion of distorted power, the Internet Troll actually experiences a sense of accomplishment when their targets attempt to disparage and humiliate them. Just as most iPredator typologies, the Internet Troll can be best defined by this writer’s construct of Dark Psychology.
Trolls do not adhere to the basic tenets of Alfred Adler’s concept of Social Interest and the concepts of Social Responsibility and Digital Citizenship. They feel no shame or remorse for their provocations and perceive their online activities as a game. As perplexing is it may sound, the vast majority of Internet Trolls do not consider the anguish and distress they are causing others. As stated, they perceive their online activities as a game. It is highly unlikely to assume that the vast majority of Internet Trolls are sociopaths and psychopaths, but they certainly meet the criteria of lacking empathy, having a minimal capacity for experiencing shame or guilt, exhibit callousness and a grandiose sense of self, which interestingly commonplace to all sociopaths and psychopaths.
For the most part, Internet Trolls rarely know the person(s) they are targeting and always attempt to maintain their anonymity. Having to maintain anonymity is the prime reason why Internet Trolls prefer cyberspace as their playground. As afforded to all online users. The “veil of anonymity” is available to everyone, if chosen, online, but is a priori to Internet Trolls. Given the vast majority of Trolls share the same personality constructs, it falls to reason why cyberspace is their environment of choice for abusing others. Internet Trolls are placed in the iPredator behavioral typology of Cyber Harassment with this writer’s definition as follows:
Cyber Harassment is the use of Information and Communications Technology to harass, control, manipulate or habitually disparage a child, adult, business or group without a credible or implied threat of harm. Unlike physical harassment requiring physical contact, cyber harassment occurs in cyberspace using ICT and is verbal, emotional or social abuse of a person, group or organization.
The primary difference between an online user who engages in cyber harassment and the Internet Troll is that the Troll rarely knows the identity of their target. Although the Internet Troll engages in the act of Cyber Harassment, the likelihood of not knowing their target and harassing others for the perceptual distortion of engaging in a game places them in a class of their own. Just like a cyberbully, Internet Trolls use the same methods, strategies and cyberbullying tactics.
Just as all criminal and deviant profiles, Internet Trolls and the magnitude of the psychological devastation they endeavor upon lie upon a spectrum of depravity and immorality. Based on their level of malevolence, an Internet Troll will do anything to experience power and control online. It is not uncommon for a Troll to post defamatory and degrading information on a Facebook Memorial Page meant to pay homage to a deceased loved one or reputable social cause.
As stated above, to the Internet Troll, causing others psychological distress follows their mantra, “The More Online Pain, The More Troll Gain”. Also similar to cyber criminals and online deviants are Internet Troll Types. A quick Google search of “Types of Internet Trolls” will provide the reader with a plethora of Troll typologies. Based on this writer’s research, the Internet Troll Profile is as follows:
I. Most often gender male.
III. Meets all three criteria for being categorized as an iPredator.
- a. A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT.
- b. The usage of ICT to obtain, tamper with, exchange and deliver harmful information.
- c. A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
IV. Tends to have few offline friends and online friends often engage in the same type of online harassment.
V. Highly susceptible to the states of de-individuation and the disinhibition effect experienced, to some degree, by all online users. For Internet Trolls, these states are highly influential in their online lives.
VI. They are psychopathological in experiencing power and control online fueled by their offline reality of being insignificant, angry and alone.
VII. The severity and magnitude of psychological abuse they inflict upon their online targets is directly correlated to their probability of suffering from an Axis I, Axis II or Dual Diagnose mental illness.
VIII. When online, exhibit a lack of empathy, have minimal capacity to experience shame or guilt and behaves with callousness and a grandiose sense of self .
IX. From a psychodynamic standpoint, Internet Trolls create and sustain an intra-psychic myth of power, greatness and domination. Although all humanity is guided through life by internal myths and archetypes, the Internet Troll’s myths and archetypes are highly distorted.
X. They are developmentally immature, tend to be chronically isolated and have had minimal to no intimate relationships.
To understand the Internet Troll at greater depth, please read this writer’s constructs below of iPredator, iPredator Bridge, Dark Psychology, Cyberstealth and Information Age Forensics. At present, humanity is at the beginning of the Information Age with the internet being a mere two decades young. As Information and Communication Technology, Social Media and the Internet becomes increasingly central to all human activities, so too will the Dark Side of Cyberspace and Internet Trolls seek to spread hatred and malevolence.
Internet Troll Definition
Internet Troll: An Internet Troll is a colloquial expression used to define an online user who uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to purposely and actively provoke, defame, anger, tease, flame, or incite other online users. More often than not, the Internet Troll does not know the target recipient(s) of their vitriolic statements and behaviors. Internet Trolls regularly appear in all forms of online mediums ranging from online video gaming gatherings to chatroom and forum discussions. When the Internet Troll’s inflammatory statements and actions do not include a direct or implied physical threat to the target(s), their behavior is categorizes as cyber harassment. If the Troll’s verbal assaults include direct or implied physical threats to their target(s), their actions are then defined as cyberstalking.
The motivations for an Internet Troll’s provocative, and often times, bizarre behaviors are numerous. Despite the variations in modus operandi, the vast majority of Trolls are seeking attention, recognition, stimulation pseudo-notoriety and retribution for some unknown perceived injustice. Although there is no hard evidence or clinical research validating the psychology of the Internet Troll, it is commonly believed that the “Veil of Anonymity” afforded to every online user inspires some to engage in egregious behaviors. Those who have begun to investigate the etiology of the Troll suggest that the anonymity of the internet contributes to what has been called the disinhibition effect. It has been postulated that internet anonymity leads some to behave in asocial ways coupled with a lack of guilt or remorse for the harm they cause not being in the target’s physical presence or even knowing their identity.
IPREDATOR RELATED CONSTRUCT DEFINITIONS
Dark Psychology, iPredator, iPredator Bridge, Cyberstealth & Information Age Forensics
Dark Psychology is the study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon other people motivated by criminal and/or deviant drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives and social sciences theory. All of humanity has the potentiality to victimize humans and other living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses.
Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings, perceptions and subjective processing systems that lead to predatory behavior that is antithetical to contemporary understandings of human behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that criminal, deviant and abusive behaviors are purposive and have some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99% of the time. It is the remaining 1%, Dark Psychology parts from Adlerian theory and the Teleological Approach.
Dark Psychology postulates there is a region within the human psyche that enables some people to commit atrocious acts without purpose. In this theory, it has been coined the Dark Singularity. Dark Psychology posits that all humans have a reservoir of malevolent intent towards others ranging from minimally obtrusive and fleeting thoughts to pure psychopathic deviant behaviors without any cohesive rationality. This is called the Dark Continuum. Mitigating factors acting as accelerators and/or attractants to approaching the Dark Singularity, and where a person’s heinous actions fall on the Dark Continuum, is what Dark Psychology calls Dark Factor.
Dark Psychology encompasses all that makes us who we are in relationship to our dark side. All cultures, faiths and humanity have this proverbial cancer. From the moment we are born to the time of death, there is a side hidden within us that some have called “Evil” and others have defined as criminal, deviant or psychopathic. Dark Psychology introduces a third philosophical construct that views these behaviors different from religious dogmas and contemporary social science theories.
Dark Psychology posits there are people who commit these same acts and do so not for power, money, sex, retribution or any other known purpose. They commit horrid acts without a goal. Simplified, their ends do not justify their means. There are people who violate and injure others for the sake of doing so. Within in all of us is this potential. A potential to harm others without cause, explanation, or purpose is the area explored. Dark Psychology assumes this dark potential is incredibly complex and even more difficult to define.
iPredator: A person, group or nation who, directly or indirectly, engages in exploitation, victimization, coercion, stalking, theft or disparagement of others using Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. iPredators are driven by deviant fantasies, desires for power and control, retribution, religious fanaticism, political reprisal, psychiatric illness, perceptual distortions, peer acceptance or personal and financial gain. iPredators can be any age or gender and are not bound by economic status, race, religion or national heritage.
iPredator is a global term used to distinguish anyone who engages in criminal, coercive, deviant or abusive behaviors using ICT. Central to the construct is the premise that Information Age criminals, deviants and the violently disturbed are psychopathological classifications new to humanity.
Whether the offender is a cyberstalker, cyber harasser, cybercriminal, online sexual predator, internet troll, cyber terrorist, cyberbully, online child pornography consumer/distributor or engaged in internet defamation or nefarious online deception, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three criteria used to define an iPredator include:
- A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT.
- The usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information.
- A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
Unlike human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely upon the multitude of benefits offered by Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators habitually deceive others using ICT in the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace. Therefore, as the internet naturally offers all ICT users anonymity, if they decide, iPredators actively design online profiles and diversionary tactics to remain undetected and untraceable.
Cyberstealth, a sub-tenet of iPredator, is a covert method by which iPredators attempt to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they engage in ICT activities planning their next assault, investigating innovative surveillance technologies or researching the social profiles of their next target. Concurrent with the concept of Cyberstealth is iPredator Victim Intuition [IVI], an iPredator’s IVI is their aptitude to sense a target’s ODDOR [Offline Distress Dictates Online Response], online & offline vulnerabilities, psychological weaknesses, technological limitations, increasing their success of a cyber-attack with minimal ramifications.
iPredator Bridge: iPredator Bridge is a theoretical tenet of iPredator representing the psychological, perceptual & behavioral trajectory of people who use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harm others motivate by self-righteousness, moral turpitude, religious/political/philosophical convictions and pro-social perceptual distortions. Not driven by criminal, malevolent or deviant endeavors, iPredator Bridge seeks to define why some people approach the nefarious and malevolent realm of iPredator, decide to proceed, and then continue along a trajectory where their cognitive, affective, behavioral and perceptual actions harm others or societies.
Similar to the iPredator, they are motivated by personal convictions, greed, power, control, narcissismor psychopathology. Different from the iPredator, they have yet to fully engage in criminal/deviant activities using ICT or use complex perceptual distortions to validate the harm they cause. iPredator Bridge investigates why some people draw near to this nefarious and malevolent realm and either proceed in their maladaptive trajectory or cease and desist.
Hidden in cyberspace, and through ICT, they contemplate the benefits and detriments, proceed, and then continue a path where their cognitive and perceptual processes are focused upon directly or indirectly harming others. For those who cross this proverbial bridge, they enter a world where their choices are increasingly governed by criminal, deviant, immoral and maladaptive processes.
iPredator Bridge is a symbolic representation of the approach, route and initial crossing into the realm of the iPredator. In a rudimentary and abstract way, it is posited that cyberspace, ICT and all future technological advancements, related to information technology, is an extension of the mind and the instinctual drives of the collective brain to replicate itself outside a human organism. Related to this postulate are the theoretical tenets of Carl Jung (1875-1961) and his construct of the Collective Unconscious.
Cyberstealth is a concept formulated along with iPredator and is a term used to define a method and/or strategy by which iPredators use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) , if they so choose, to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they troll and stalk a target. Cyberstealth is a methodology entrenched in Information Age Deception or also called cyber deception.
Given the internet inherently affords everyone anonymity, Cyberstealth, used by iPredators, range from negligible to highly complex and multi-faceted. The rationale for using “stealth” in the suffix of this term, serves to remind ICT users the primary intent fueling iPredators. This intent is to hide their identity by designing false online profiles, identities, covert tactics and methods to ensure their identities remain concealed reducing their probability of identification, apprehension and punishment.
Unlike classic deception used by traditional criminals and deviants, online deception completely relies on the anonymity and “veil of invisibility” available to all ICT users. The primary difference between Information Age deception and Cyberstealth are the activities iPredators and ICT users engage in. In this writer’s construct, Cyberstealth is reserved for iPredators who actively plan a strategy that have criminal, deviant and harmful implications to targeted victims. Information Age deception includes all forms of Cyberstealth, but also includes deceptive practices that do not have elements of crime, defiance or harm against others.
Cyberstealth is a covert method by which iPredators are able to establish and sustain complete anonymity while they engage in ICT activities planning their next assault, investigating innovative surveillance technologies or researching the social profiles of their next target. When profiling or conducting an investigation of an iPredator, their level of Cyberstealth complexity, digital footprint, victim preferences, ICT skills and behavioral patterns are used to identify who they are.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. is a New York State licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant. He completed his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology in 1994 from Adler University in Chicago, Illinois. In November 2011, Dr. Nuccitelli and his colleagues established iPredator Inc. offering educational, investigation and advisory services related to cyberstalking, cyberbullying, internet predators, cybercrime & the darkside of cyberspace. In June 2013, Dr. Nuccitelli and iPredator Inc. launched this internet safety website, iPredator, and two blogs, Dark Psychology & Dr. Internet Safety. These sites offer online users an incredible amount of information, education and advisory services. Since 1985, Dr. Nuccitelli has worked in behavioral healthcare in a variety of capacities with various clinical populations.
iPredator Inc. is a New York State based Internet Safety Company founded in September 2011 to provide educational and advisory products & services to online users and organizations. Their areas of expertise include cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cybercrime, internet defamation, cyber terrorism, online predation, internet addiction and the new fields they are pioneering called Cybercriminal Psychology & Profiling. Created by a NYS licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant, Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D., their goal is to reduce victimization, theft and disparagement from online assailants.
Dr. Nuccitelli and iPredator Inc. consultants are always available, at no cost, to interact with online users and media. In addition to their professional services, Dr. Nuccitelli has authored a variety of internet safety tools, cyber attack risk assessments and diagnostic tests available to purchase as hard copy PDF files.
Although iPredator Inc. has joined a multitude of social networking sites, feel free to visit the social sites listed below they use as their information and announcement vehicles. Dr. Nuccitelli and iPredator Inc. consultants are always available, at no cost, to interact with academia, law enforcement, legal professionals and the media. To invite Dr. Nuccitelli to conduct training, educational service or consultation, he can be reached by calling 347-871-2416 or via email at mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Google Plus: iPredator
- Google Plus: Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
- Linked In: iPredator
- Twitter: TheiPredator
- YouTube: iPredator Team
- Facebook: The iPredator
- Pinterest: iPredator Inc.
“The Information Age technocentric concept of being “connected” is a paradox of disconnection causing us to lose control of our instinctual drives for social cohesion, allegiance and selflessness. As our dependency upon Information and Communications Technology (ICT) grows, spreading throughout our collective human consciousness, the less we care for our neighbors and the more we delude ourselves into thinking that online connections are far more valuable than reality based relationships.” Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D. (2014)
- IPREDATOR INC.
- CEO: Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
- NYS Licensed Psychologist
- New York, USA
- Ph:(347) 871-2416
- Email:mailto: email@example.com
- Blog I:Dark Psychology
- Blog II: Internet Safety