The use of psychological warfare and some minor non-penetrative information warfare techniques on the Internet is described as a troll war. The concept is a Western name for what in China is called Network People's War or an action by a "net force" (a parallel to air, sea, land forces).
More technological penetrative techniques are usually called by another name, "hacking", to emphasize that it is technology itself, computers and telecom networks, being manipulated. The older term "phreaking" applies to the old POTS network. These terms should not be used to describe psychological war.
By contrast, in a troll war, the players usually have more or less equal power relationships with respect to technology. The combat is on a more psychological level:
- slanted idioms, e.g. the kossary's list of those in use by "both sides"
- propaganda techniques, such as those listed and studied at Sourcewatch
- character assassination such as China's casting doubt on the Dalai Lama XIV, or Anthony Blair's characterization of Saddam Hussein as being the worst ruler on Earth (a distinction that belongs to Kim Jong Il or perhaps George W. Bush).
The use of the conceptual metaphor of mass media and Internet trolls fighting a "war" suggests the concept of a war troll. While an ethical troll is a person who deliberately posts messages where they are unwelcome, to overcome systemic bias or otherwise disturb groupthink, a war troll is more devoted to attack or satire. Within the Democratic Party, such operatives might be best directed to negative campaigns against the Republican Party rather than risk a circular firing squad from developing based on their tactices. Meanwhile, subtler peace trolls could appear friendly and put them to sleep, or make unwelcome but persistent overtures to key groups that support Republicans, to weaken their resolve and find holes in their arguments. Any intelligence can later be fed to fierce war trolls for maximum attack value. At various types or stages of campaigns, one needs warriors or diplomats, hawks or doves. This is no different in troll war:
The Chinese conception of a Network People's War is to apply the 36 strategems known since ancient times, directly to the Internet itself.
Some believe that the opening of direct competition between funded trolls with corporate or government backing, or with strong religious or ethnic biases, and the influence of their troll wars on major decisions, is the harbinger of a new and nasty Troll Age. Evidence for this is found in the following:
More civilized attempts to support open politics argument, such as dkosopedia itself, are at this point experiments. It is not at all clear that this forum can avoid the kind of constant troll war that plagues say Wikipedia, which is quite often described as a battlefield of ideas.