Sports Columnist Tracks Down Trolls And Calls Them

from the and-now-what? dept

A few folks passed along this amusing column by sports columnist (for SI.com) Jeff Pearlman, in which he talks about how he tracked down a couple of "online haters" who insulted him online (one sent him graphic hardcore pornography) and then called them on the telephone. Both of them turned out to be a lot more apologetic when actually confronted with the real, live voice of Pearlman. No surprise there. Though, Pearlman does note that he actually kind of liked the guy who sent him the pornography:
Then we spoke. And I (dammit) liked him. Without invisibility or the support of his 54 Twitter followers or the superhuman powers supplied by a warm keyboard, Matt was meek and apologetic. "I was just trying to get a rise out of you," he said. "You're a known sports writer, and I thought it was cool. That's all. I never meant for it to reach this point."
And that, of course, is how trolling works. Still, I do wonder if this column will lead to more or less future haters going after Pearlman.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:02am

    That's a pretty awesome response. Instead of calling the hater out, Pearlman called the haters and had a discussion. It almost proves the Greater Fuckwad Theorem in action.

     

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  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    And that, of course, is how trolling works

    That is also how writing a blog works. It's the bully pulpit combined with no actual journalistic integrity.

    Carry on!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:08am

    Re:

    Q.E.D.

     

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  4.  
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    Yogi, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Bad

    Part of the fun of the internet is anonymous commenting. People can be polite in real life, if that's what they want to do.

    In short - bad call on the part of Pearlman, and definitely an invasion of privacy on his part. I would never read or comment on any site that behaves like that.

     

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  5.  
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    steveplunkett, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    online hater trackdown

    like jay and silent bob... tracking down commenters from a movie review bulletin board.. LOVE IT!

     

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  6.  
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    Jaws4theRevenge (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    Re:

    "journalistic integrity"

    You were trolling so well up to this part.

    3/10

     

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  7.  
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    cc (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    Ok, but how did he get their phone numbers?

     

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  8.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    mad hax and l33t n1nja sk1llz.

     

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  9.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re:

    They had their Twitter attached to their Facebook that had their real numbers?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous a-hole, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re:

    /b/ of course.

     

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  11.  
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    DOlz (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re: Bad

    In this day in age with recording devices everywhere and the footprints we leave on the net, anonymity for the most part is an illusion, Even if that wasn't the case being rude, disruptive, or threatening just because you think no one will know who you are is not the mark of a civilized person.

     

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  12.  
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    Jay (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    It's quite simple really.

    Say they have a facebook page. People give out a lot of info about themselves and there's a LOT of info that can be garnered online.

    With just knowing an actual name, I could find someone's address and possibly discern where they are and their phone numbers.

    IP tracking is pretty easy if no one uses a proxy. So it's just a matter of time before you find someone.

    Of course, I would look into privacy laws on this...

     

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  13.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    Cool someone get me Darryls number. We can do a teleconference with him ...

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    You mean, it's possible to solve our differences over minor issues without involving the lawyers?

     

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  15.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Nerd Rage much dude? LOL

     

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  16.  
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    Yogi, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Bad

    I agree that anonymity is for the most part an illusion. For me, that just makes it even more important to preserve whatever is left of such anonymity.

    And some people want and need to behave in an uncivilized manner. Much better that they do so on the internet, in a relatively harmless manner.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re:

    It's only the point that you can write a blog without having to do those annoying things like fact check, get quotes from people, or actually research the story. (wikileaks.com, anyone?)

    Plus as a bonus, you get to ignore facts you don't like. :)

     

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  18.  
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    Bruce Ediger (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Old School Media Type Reaction

    I thought that this was essentially an old school media type reacting negatively to actual contact with readers. That is, without the vast distance in time that a print publication confers on the writers, the hate mail is just too much for them. They can't handle it without the calming intervention of editors, and mailboys.

     

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  19.  
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    cgt (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re:

    MIND == BLOWN

     

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  20.  
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    BJ Upton, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:26am

    Of course, Jeff Pearlman is whatever you would call a troll that has a mainstream writing gig. He's rather good an writing hit pieces, and has never found specious logic that he couldn't fashion into a column.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Sounds exactly like most media outlets to me.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Troll smarter not harder. Now polish up your game and spoof your IP address.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Techdirt definition of troll: Anyone that doesn't agree with Masnick.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Waht is truly classic is having people "vote" my comment down. Just proof that the sheeple will protect the dear leader no matter what. North Korea ain't got nothing on Techdirt.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not only Techdirt but also Digg, Rededit, Slashdot and any other public forum that has those things probably would have voted you down.

    You are delusional and annoying.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymously Brave, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Bad

    Here's the thing, though: even if you cannot expect to be fully anonymous on the web, you should be able to reasonably expect that an established journalist will not go to lengths to track you down and confront you.

    It's like leaving money on your counter at home. If it gets stolen by a guest, you could say that you deserved it for not properly securing your cash -- or you could point out the lack of class and ethics of the person who took it. Should we not reasonable expect that our guests will at least moderately follow the rules of polite society?

    By that same token, should we not expect to be able to comment on a news article without having to worry that the writer will track us down and harrass us by phone.

    This is the online equivalent of going 10 miles out of your way to follow someone home who has cut you off in traffic, so that you can scream and shake your fist at them face-to-face. Only in this case, it has the potential to impact his job as he risks alienating readers.

     

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  27.  
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    Christopher (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Hope your phone number is unlisted.

    ...because, cue Jeff calling you tonight.

    -C

     

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  28.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I guess you guys must REALLY like Mike, to try so hard to get a rise out of him. I mean, we're always nice and stuff, but you guys take the cake with your fawning and pretend trolling!

     

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  29.  
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    PRMan, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    Expecting a call in 3..2..1...

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is one guy out there who wants to play "troll the troll", but he isn't very good at it. I suspect he has a few different accounts here, and just posts as anonymous when he wants to be a prick. He is, putting it in his own words, "delusional and annoying."

     

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  31.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bad

    I don't know if you forgot to read the article or if you are ignoring everything in the article, but here goes:

    you should be able to reasonably expect that an established journalist will not go to lengths to track you down and confront you.

    I find this statement puzzling. Are you suggesting that there should be no consequence for insulting someone? If I go up to someone and tell him his mother is a dirty whore, I would not be at all surprised to find a fist headed my way. This is what some people call "consequences". Every action has them and they're not always good.

    Should we not reasonable expect that our guests will at least moderately follow the rules of polite society?

    This, I think, is the most confusing part of what you said. Did you read the article? After flinging insults at Mr. Pearlman, a commenter tweeted "I got caught up in the anonymity of the internet. I'm sorry and here is a legit post with my criticisms." The pasted link was to hardcore porn, and according to Mr. Pearlman: "When I later noted to Matt, via Twitter, that my 7-year-old daughter happened to be next to me when I clicked on the picture, he wrote: "lmao. You're so full of ----."

    There certainly does seem to be a lot of broken rules for a polite society, but I can't find any from Mr. Pearlman. Can you?

    This is the online equivalent of going 10 miles out of your way to follow someone home who has cut you off in traffic, so that you can scream and shake your fist at them face-to-face.

    Again, from the article: "I aspired to know why Matt, cloaked in the anonymity provided by the internet, felt the need to respond in such a way to, of all things, a Jeff Bagwell post."

    To use your analogy, it would be like following someone home who has cut you off in traffic to calmly ask them what was so important to endanger your life and the life of your family in your car and having them, shamefully, mention not wanting to miss the new episode of Jersey Shore.

    Only in this case, it has the potential to impact his job as he risks alienating readers.

    This, also, goes both ways. Mr. Pearlman states: "Quite frankly, I wanted to hate him. I wanted to bash him. I wanted to plaster his name, address and personal information atop a column on CNN.com, so that when someone Googled his name for future employment, they'd find the words 'Sent me a link to pornographic material.'"

    Yet, in the article, Mr. Pearlman only uses first names and does not vilify the commenters, instead portraying them as real people who were ashamed at being called out for their behavior. I find it difficult to find even one fault on the part of Mr. Pearlman, who appears to have conducted himself quite honorably, and find it very puzzling that you do.

     

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  32.  
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    DOlz (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bad

    That someone wants or needs to behave in an uncivilized manner isn't acceptable in a three year old. It also should not be acceptable or an excuse for someone old enough to know how to use a keyboard.

    As for being "relatively harmless", there have been articles here and news reports elsewhere how internet harassment has had devastating results. We have a duty as members of a society to treat each other with respect even and especially when we disagree with each other,

     

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  33.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Troll: to post something in order to deliberately get a reaction.

    Troll harder, noob.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Uhh that comment,

    "Not only Techdirt but also Digg, Rededit, Slashdot and any other public forum that has those things probably would have voted you down.

    You are delusional and annoying."

    didn't feel like a trolling effort to me. That one,

    "Waht is truly classic is having people "vote" my comment down. Just proof that the sheeple will protect the dear leader no matter what. North Korea ain't got nothing on Techdirt."

    did feel like a trolling effort. And it was annoying, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Did I ever tell you how much I hate you Mike? :D

     

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  36.  
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    tc, Jan 25th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: Bad

    Why in the world would you think it's "fun" to be an ass online while anonymous?

    I wonder if people who think/act that way are damaged. Are they're lives so empty or shallow that they need to rile someone up to feel they are having fun? Do they lack the intelligence to contribute to a discussion in a meaningful way so instead they seek to kick the sandcastle?

    We may never know.

    Frankly I think it's awesome that Mr Pearlman called these anonymous cowards on their crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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