Ethnographer Whitney Phillips embedded with the trolls of 4chan, observing for years how anonymous members of its subversive "b" forum memed, pranked, harassed, and abused, all for the "lolz" — the thrill of doing something shocking.
The result: a book, "This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture," that sheds light on how and why trolls do what they do.
More than pushing the boundaries of taste within themselves — the "b" board recently made headlines for a case in which anonymous members allegedly goaded one of their own to cut off his own toe — troll behavior has had an incredibly broad impact on society. Trolling shaped the way social platforms and conversations on public forums take place. It is in no small part due to the spread of troll culture that comments sections, Facebook threads, and Twitter conversations can be minefields to productive conversation; the troll dialect is better equipped for shock and iron