Tactics

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The following tactics make up the game moves available to players during a session of INSTANT WARNET. Each one represents a real practice found across the social web. Click on each tactic to read more about their usage around the world, or to add your own examples to our database.


Level 1


  • Astroturfing : using various fake accounts and posts to create the illusion of widespread support for a movement, brand, or organisation. This tactic has become common practice in commercial and political marketing. The aim is to mislead the public into believing that the target is more popular than it really is.




  • Sockpuppeting : creating multiple fake accounts, in order to anonymously support your first one, or your overall agenda. This allows you to basically astroturf yourself. Sockpuppeting is big business in identity politics.




  • Trolling (LULZ) : posting deliberately sarcastic, inflammatory and humorous messages in an online forum. The aim is to sow discord and to entertain oneself with the misfortune of others. Think schadenfreude with a side of epic win.




  • Trolling (flame bait) : posting deliberately inflammatory messages to 'bait' other users into a so-called 'flame war' or an online rage. The aim is to derail the conversation and provoke angry responses.




  • Trolling (grammar nazi) : posting deliberately inflammatory messages which point out your target's poor spelling or grammar. The aim is to undermine your target's message and provoke angry responses.




  • Trolling (bad advice) : posting deliberately misleading or damaging advice in an online forum. The aim is to undermine your target community, sow discord and reap the lulz.




  • Trolling (questions) : this style of trolling relies on ‘pseudo-naïvety’ and is a throwback to the origins of the practice. It involves repeatedly reposting the same questions, while pretending to be civil. The aim is to bait users into replying or becoming frustrated.




  • Flagging : reporting a post or an account to platform moderators. The aim is to cause a take-down of the offending post.




  • Troll-hunting : searching for, identifying and exposing trolls or sock-puppet accounts. The aim is to undermine your target and alert other users.




  • Bot-hunting : searching for, identifying and exposing automated bots. The aim is to undermine your target and alert other users.




  • Scam baiting : posing as a potential victim to a scammer, astroturfer or troll. The aim is to lure the target into a conversation, thereby wasting their time and resources.




  • Snitch-tagging : responding to a negative or critical post by another user, by tagging the subject of that post in the comments. Your aim? To stir the pot.



Level 2


  • Spamming : sending multiple unsolicited messages to a target, for either commercial or non-commercial purposes. The aim is to make your message as visible as possible to your target.




  • Shitposting : the act of posting large amounts of context-less, absurd, unfunny or poor quality content in an online forum. The aim is to derail discussions and generally confuse and frustrate the audience.




  • Fact-checking : the process of attempting to verify or disprove claims made by another user. The aim is to alert others and challenge your target.




  • Counterspeech (shaming & labeling) : responding directly to hateful or harmful speech in an attempt to undermine it. By publicly naming and shaming the offensive post, you encourage other bystanders to identify and respond to it.




  • Counterspeech (warning of consequences) : responding directly to hateful or harmful speech in an attempt to undermine it. This approach involves reminding your target of the scope and impact of their words. The aim is to situate the conversation within legal and social norms.




  • Counterspeech (empathy) : responding directly to hateful or harmful speech in an attempt to undermine it. This approach involves reaching out to your target with a sincere appeal to discuss your differences. The aim is to change the tone of the conversation and encourage debate.




  • Trolling (concern) : adopting the persona of a member of your opposition, and posting subversive messages while claiming to share their goals. The aim is to create division, sway opinion or sow uncertainty within the group. In politics, this is often called ‘Left’ trolling.




  • Trolling (scholarly) : responding to inflammatory or hateful content by posting direct quotations from opposing theorists or scholars. The aim is to confront your target with unexpected content. This approach is inspired by Sarah Ciston's ladymouthbot, which posts feminist quotes in response to misogynist content on reddit.




  • Trolling (insult) : posting deliberately inflammatory messages which attack a specific target’s character, actions, gender or race. The aim is to intimidate the target with your brilliant diss and/or provoke an angry response.




  • Trolling (ideological) : posting deliberately inflammatory messages in support of a political or personal ideology. The aim is often about swaying the masses — the 'malleable middle' — and providing a counterweight to trolls promoting opposing ideologies.




  • Meme-making : creating and publishing a new meme to your feed. The aim could be to visualize dissent, spread a message or idea or simply to generate lulz.




  • Counter-memeing : creating and publishing memes in opposition or response to existing memes. This can ignite a so-called ‘meme-war’ between conflicting ideologies. The aim is to visualize dissent, and to undermine your target’s message and reputation by creating more successful memes.



Level 3


  • Disinformation campaign (positive) : spreading positive fake news items or misleading information in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. The aim is to improve the reputation of your target.




  • Disinformation campaign (negative) : spreading negative fake news items or misleading information in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. The aim is to smear the reputation of your target.




  • Disinformation campaign (imitation) : impersonating a figure from the opposition, and posting incendiary material in their name. The aim is to generate angry responses from the unsuspecting public.




  • Hashtag-gaming : appropriating or hijacking a certain hashtag, by posting reactionary or subversive material to its feed. The aim is to ride the wave of popularity, and confront the community around the hashtag with your message.




  • Geotag-gaming : appropriating or hijacking a certain geotag (location tag), by posting reactionary or challenging material to its feed. The aim is to infiltrate and confront the community around the location with critical content.




  • News-jacking : piggybacking off the day’s biggest news stories to draw attention to your own content or ideology. The aim is to inject your message into trending topics or hashtags.




  • Profile-jacking : copying images and text from unsuspecting user profiles to use as a template for the creation of a sockpuppet account. This is done for convenience and to make the sockpuppet more ‘real’.




  • Identity correction : a tactic popularized by the Yes Men, this is the practice of impersonating influential figures or organisations, and publishing ironic or contrary content in their name. The aim is to expose the target and draw attention to the power structures at play.




  • Doxxing : (from dox, abbreviation of documents) the practice of researching and then publishing private or identifiable information about an individual or organization. The aim is to intimidate your target and provoke others to harass them.




  • Gendertrolling : posting deliberately inflammatory messages attacking a specific gender or its expression. Targets are often women and/or feminists, and tactics may involve sexual or physical intimidation.




  • Trolling (raid) : recruiting multiple trolls to launch a coordinated attack on one person or organisation. The aim is to intimidate and overwhelm your target.




  • Trolling (fearmonger) : posting provocative content which promotes divisive politics, conspiracy theories, or other anxiety-inducing news items. The aim is to incite outrage and play on public fears and emotions.