Trolls and hackers are often pooled into the same category. By no extent is this an unfair reflection of their work and the ties between the groups however in some circumstances it may be ‘unfair’ (unfair being used liberally) to claim that hacking and trolling are two sides to the same coin. Surely some hackers are trolls, and some trolls use hacking to fulfil their trolling desires but that does not leave them inseparable.
To further identify the difference between the two, we must first define both parties.
Milners Hacking the Social, amongst other things identifies trolling as;
“The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue… The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.” – Milner, 2013.
Hacking itself has numerous definitions, however for this post it is best defined as; gaining unauthorised access to data in a system or computer.
Part of what allows for this idea of hacking and trolling being synonymous is a mixture of what I mentioned previously about hacking being a tool for trolls as well as what Gabriella Coleman in Phreaks, Hackers and Trolls writes about in regards to hackers clustering together under this blanket appreciation of hacking.
“Some hackers recognise the diversity of hacking and acknowledge that, dispite differences, hacking hangs together around a loose but interconnected set of issues, values, experiences and artifacts.” – Coleman, 2012.
However the most important aspect of these two phenomena is the differences.
This youtube channel is the epitome of trolling, presenting somewhat believable but untrue information for the purposes of laughs. Although not harmful trolling it is still trolling none the less.
Compare this to Hacking, in particular the Gary McKinnon case. In an oversight, McKinnon hacked into the US Military to find information on UFO’s and free energy suppression.
The key difference in these two concepts is the purpose of their acts. Where trolling is for pleasure hacking is for information seeking.
This is the key difference.
Miller, Ryan M. (2013). Hacking the Social: Internet Memes, Identity Antagonism, and the Logic of Lulz, The Fibreculture Journal, 22: p. 89.
Coleman, E. Gabriella, 2012, ‘Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls’, P99, Viewed 01/05/15. <http://quod.lib.umich.edu.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=acls;cc=acls;rgn=full%20text;idno=heb31970.0001.001;didno=heb31970.0001.001;view=image;seq=00000109;node=heb31970.0001.001%3A6.1>