*MOTHERBOARD: Trolling Scholars Debunk the Idea That the Alt-Right’s Shitposters Have Magic Powers, by WHITNEY PHILLIPS, JESSICA BEYER, AND GABRIELLA COLEMAN
The scholars scoff that online "trolls" put Trump in the White House, parse what the word really means in 2017, and why it's important.
" ... More than fake news, more than filter bubbles, more than insane conspiracy theories about child sex rings operating out of the backs of Washington DC pizza shops, the biggest media story to emerge from the 2016 election was the degree to which far-right media were able to set the narrative agenda for mainstream media outlets (This point is ably argued by internet scholars Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, Hal Roberts, and Ethan Zuckerman).
Consequently, to assert that alt-right shitposters were a deciding factor in Trump's victory risks minimizing the broader cultural, societal, and media trends that influenced their influence. Worse, when coupled with the aforementioned assumptions about the interchangeable relationship between the alt-right, "trolling," 4chan, and Anonymous, the claim that "trolls caused Trump" bestows a kind of atemporal, almost godlike power to what is no more and no less than a bigoted subset of a faction of an ever-evolving, ever-unstable, ever-reactive anonymous online collective. This faction was never a "skeleton key" to Donald Trump's Presidential ascension—but they sure as hell want people to think they were."