Shadow-banning is being practiced and trolls are being given access to hidden posting aids and extra protection
Topix forums are the number one internet community forums linked to newspapers in America.
From their website:
Topix is the leading news community on the Web, connecting people to the information and discussions that matter to them in every U.S. town and city.
A Top 10 online newspaper destination (comScore, March 2008), the site links news from 50,000 sources to 360,000 lively user-generated forums. Topix also works with the nation's major media companies to grow and engage their online audiences through forums, classifieds, publishing platforms and RSS feeds
They are heavily invested in, by the 3 biggest newspaper corporations in the country.
From their website:
Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Topix LLC is a privately held company with investment from Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) and Tribune Company.
And indeed, these three corporations invested $15-million dollars in Topix in 2006. From their website:
November 6, 2006
Topix Receives $15 Million in Additional Funding from Tribune, Gannett, and McClatchy
From Local Media Watch: Indeed, its potential was deemed so great that Gannett, Tribune and Knight Ridder paid $60 million for it in 2005, expecting it to play a key role in the future of local news.
But these figures are deceiving. Nowhere on their website do they show the investment paid from the other companies to Topix by consolidating with them and the futures market profits are also not shown. Nowhere.
Also is not shown the huge profits they make via affiliates. Topix is hiding how big they are.
These forums have become notorious across the nation for the number of trolls clogging their threads, and the degree of baseness of the human conversation going on there. It is truly insane. Open racism is everywhere, as is vicious condemnation of the poor, public school bashing, immigrant bashing, slander, malice, humiliation, belittling and bullying.
CEO Chris Tolles says he likes it that way, says thats where the money is:
"But Jeez, why is it that all the old newspaper guys think there's some giant pile of money at the top of the trust pyramid? There isn't. All the money is at the bottom. In the muck."
All of this "muck" has been written off as a necessary by-product of Free Speech and been tolerated, even though some of the behavior exhibited in 100-million comments on Topix, is base and inhumane. It has been proven that trolls, at their worst, are hired and trained disinformation agents, commentators who intentionally disrupt discussions, spread racism, attack important social services and bully real-person commentators. This has been proven by this 2007 article:
Make no mistake: GOP is paying trolls to "blog attack"
And yet trolls openly run all over Topix forums, in fact they are supported by Topix! The company has engineered its forums to be especially troll-friendly, giving certain trolls hidden access to programming tricks that allow them to maneuver the forums way beyond the average commentator. I have conducted an investigation, here are my findings.
These are some of Topix's devious troll-friendly, everyday practices:
• Topix practices a form of censorship called "shadow-banning". A commentator will be blocked from the forums, without any contact or warning notice email from the Topix company. They will then, continue to see on their computer, every comment they write posted to the forums. Unbeknownst to them, they are the only ones who can see these comments, every other Topix viewer does not see their comments. This programming dirty trick, can fool a banned commentator into commenting for months and months without realizing their writing is not being seen. I have been twice shadow-banned from Topix. The first time it took me over two weeks to discover it. I was lucky, it could have been months. Topix is also able to shadow-ban a single comment, the commentator sees it, no one else. This is happening on all Topix outlets and this article decries the practice: Chris Tolles, Topix Whoremonger and Bile Dealer Chris Tolles Also Pathfinder in Censorship and Shadow-Banning"
• Moderated commenting trick. Once a commentator has been put under moderation (and I have been), a 3-5 minute delay is put on their comments before they are published. The trolls are then notified, thus given time to come up with a response and attach it to the comment. I ran a test on Topix, posting 28 comments after midnight, each time my comment was published 5 minutes after I had written it, with a troll comment already attached to it. I took screen shots of the entire process and documented the times.
• Topix trolls steal commentator's usernames. Once a person's username has been stolen by a troll, a commentator can never use that name, in the specific lettering the troll typed, ever again. This becomes especially dangerous, when a commentator uses their real name. This happened to me. The trolls on the Pasadena Star-News Topix forums would lift my real name and post comments as "me". There was nothing I could do about it except to follow them around the forums calling out comments I did not write. Many slipped away from me, without my seeing them. You can imagine the danger to a person in this. My opinion was being forged. The image below shows the troll using my full real name.
• Topix trolls forge username accounts. The identity theft problem at Topix goes even beyond name-stealing. Topix trolls forge usernames. A troll forged my user-profile and posted comments as "me" with my name, picture and registered profile sitting right next to them. My many appeals to the feedback link, the only resource Topix offers to file complaints (no phone number is offered) took days of filing complaints to Topix for them to remove the comments with my name and picture on them, I did not write. Here is one of my pleas to Topix to remove the forged comments:
• Trolls posting on Topix use software that enables them to change the city of origin listed beside their comment. Topix hides the ISP address of every single commentator. Trolls are able to post with fake ISP addresses from different cities. A single troll can, therefore, pretend to be many different people. Topix trolls are able to name the city of origin to list with their comments.
• Topix allows trolls to build attack forums and attack polls on Topix that the empowered trolls can rig. A troll can build an attack forum pages and pages long to persecute a target. An abuse report link is left off of the abuse polls by Topix. Complaints to the Feedback moderator take days and weeks to be heard, before Topix eventually deletes these forums. The troll then simply builds a new one. I have been a troll target on Topix and had 17 attack forums built, attacking me and my blog, the Pasadena New Progressive. Apart from deriding comments, the trolls would lift other comments I had written, skew them, and then re-post them as their comment. Here is an image of one of the attack forums built on Topix, also shown is a forged troll comment with my user pic and real name.
• Topix supports trolls by not blocking them from their forums, no matter how outrageous or bigoted their behavior. Also by responding slowly, if at all, to complaints filed against the trolls and flags on their comments. Topix trolls bully commentators and put out thousands of racist comments. No blow is too low to go. These trolls will attack someone's family, hurl insults and personal condemnation, racial and sexual slurs, the works. Flagging their comments is ineffectual, although sometimes after many days, a comment will be removed. Should it take days to remove a harsh, racist comment? No, it should take minutes!
Until Topix is confronted and forced to abandon the devious and unethical practices its forums are practicing including censorship, troll enhancement and troll tolerance, in no way, shape or form, can whats going on there be considered Free Speech.
Sample Topix troll-loaded forum
Sample Topix troll-loaded forum
Did you all hear me out there? Topix is not practicing free speech!
In providing secret programming aids and protection for their truck-load of trolls, they are supporting and encouraging the troll's messages, which are harsh - and are spreading racism, hate and fear across America.
In bullying off real-people commentators, they are intentionally skewing the balance of discussions on the forums. It should be noted that there are many on Topix who are fighting back and sometimes regaining a balance. These are heros on Topix.
Chris Tolles is openly claiming to have opened the door for a lessening of media ethics and seeking his fortune in the "muck".
"Topix [owned by the three largest news media corporations] is the bubonic plague of the internet"
© 2010, Virginia Olive Hoge - all rights reserved
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In 2012, Open Salon mistakenly took down this blog. When it was put back up, all of the original posts were there, with only my comments left though.
Here are the original comments from this post.
I can relate to everything you've said.
From my research and time spent on varirous Topix Forums , I do believe they are in league with the same evil which pulls the strings attached to people like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and other well known shills who spew out the same crap. Being a non-christian Animist, I joined Topix's Pagan forum in a effort to connect with like-minded people, but instead found a place full of right-wing raunch where partisan politics and the war against Islam were the top threads instead of Pagan Spiritualty and life.
Racist right-wing trolls, hackers and all around bad ethics make up the Topix Forums. I wouldn't be a bit surprise if they attach some nasties on people's computers. Wouldn't be the first internet forum that did.
September 11, 2010 01:55 PM
Its out of control Jim. They are threatening our lives, threatening to hack into our computers, outing our personal information. I have been threatened with rape, repeatedly, and the troll doing it, a name changer whose real name is Kelly, keeps carping about my Open Salon posts, saying nobody reads them etc.
I asked her, "am I that big of a threat?"
apparently. Open Salon has an exclusive on this massive media corruption scandal story.
September 11, 2010 08:16 PM
These guys at Topix somehow tapped my phone and then began to post my phone conversation.
November 27, 2010 05:30 PM
wow, Jack, thats awful. I have had my Topix PM's hacked, my computer threatened to be hacked, my life has been threatened many times. I am so sorry to hear of your experience.
November 28, 2010 11:20 AM
Yes, these trolls are quite resourceful. They always let me know that they know where I live, my name, and as I stated they posted a short blurb to let me know they have listened into phone calls.
Is there organized crime on Topix? You bet there is.
November 28, 2010 10:19 PM
This booklet "Is the Devil in your laptop"? is a great way to understand the "social engineering" being done on Topix.
November 28, 2010 10:22 PM
Another good read. Topix poses a real threat.
November 28, 2010 10:32 PM
wow. Yes, there sure is Jack, I can vouch for this as well. Its one thing to say you support an atmosphere of absolute free speech, its another entirely to manipulate this atmosphere in service of real deviance.
November 29, 2010 11:12 AM
My stalker troll is able to censor comment replies, she is able to block comments entirely, she is able to rig Topix polls. She is empowered, apparently by the company unless I here from them otherwise, and she is super-mean and directed.
November 29, 2010 11:14 AM
Appropriate breaking news story regarding Wikileak
November 29, 2010 01:52 PM
Like Wikileak, Topix is also a terrorist organization
November 29, 2010 01:55 PM
What, Wikileak is a terrorist organization? I thought they were being persecuted?
November 29, 2010 02:52 PM
Julian Assange- Australia
Hacking and charges
In the late 1980s, he was a member of a hacker group named "International Subversives," going by the pen-name "Mendax" (derived from a phrase of Horace: "splendide mendax," or "nobly untruthful"). He was the subject of a 1991 raid of his Melbourne home by the Australian Federal Police. He was reported to have accessed computers belonging to an Australian university, a Canadian telecommunications company Nortel, and other organisations, via modem. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to 24 charges of hacking and was released on bond for good conduct after being fined AU$2100. The prosecutor said "there is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what's the expression—surf through these various computers
November 29, 2010 03:31 PM
Starting in 1994, Assange lived in Melbourne as a programmer and a developer of free software. In 1995, Assange wrote Strobe, the first free and open source port scanner. He contributed several patches to the PostgreSQL project in 1996. He helped to write the 1997 book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier which credits him as a researcher and reports his history with International Subversives. Starting around 1997 he co-invented the Rubberhose deniable encryption system, a cryptographic concept made into a software package for Linux designed to provide plausible deniability against rubber-hose cryptanalysis, which he originally intended "as a tool for human rights workers who needed to protect sensitive data in the field." Other free software that he has authored or co-authored includes the Usenet caching software NNTPCache and Surfraw, a command-line interface for web-based search engines. In 1999, Assange registered the domain leaks.org; "But," he says, "then I didn't do anything with it."[
November 29, 2010 03:33 PM
Assange has said he is constantly on the move, living in airports. He has lived for periods in Australia, Kenya and Tanzania, and began renting a house in Iceland on 30 March 2010, from which he and other activists, including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, worked on the 'Collateral Murder' video
November 29, 2010 03:35 PM
wow. see, its the immunity from prosecution that people are not getting when they cannot comprehend the danger of cyber-criminals. For instance, if an anonymous troll posts a death threat to me on Topix, Topix will protect the identity of that troll, not delete the comment, and declare no responsibility for it. I can go to law enforcement and they say there is nothing they can do because the poster is anonymous. So, until I am dead, no crime has happened, none.
November 29, 2010 04:19 PM
that is fascinating about Julian Assange, Jack
November 29, 2010 04:45 PM
This "Topix" operation isnt about "ad revenues" or money at all really. This is a top down fascist operation where Topix is able to spy on citizens, profile them, invasion of privacy, etc. This is what is really going on.
The "Tolle Trolls" can observe the habits of millions of Americans, perhaps report them to law enforcement, mess with their credit report, etc.
The Justice Department should shut Topix down, but the problem there is the organized crime interests that run Topix, enjoy a very high level of support and protection inside the Justice Department.
I have been watching this for over a year. They have hacked all my information and are not shy about letting me know. They also intentionally "hint" or make a deliberate "mistake" when "taunting" me. This allows them a degree of deniability. Instead of feeding back my address they'll intentionally list a residence that is just slightly off the truth.
November 30, 2010 10:01 AM
WIKILEAKS whistleblower Julian Assange has been placed on an Interpol "red list" over allegations of rape, federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland confirmed yesterday.
As the website mastermind set his sights on the corporate sector, his elevation to the red list places him in the highest category under Interpol's international wanted list.
But in an interview published in Forbes magazine, Assange said his next set of secret documents focused on a large US bank. "It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms," Assange told the magazine, adding: "For this, there's only one similar example. It's like the Enron emails."
November 30, 2010 10:47 AM
wow, Jack, that is so scary. do you have links of where you post?
I have had my stalker troll threaten to have access to my bank account and all my computer passwords. she uses threats and fear to try to bully me off Topix, but it hasn't worked, I call her my motivator, it has spurred me on to keep going. If Topix had one bit of sense, they would pull this troll off my back because she just makes me angry and that motivates me.
I have actually found some great writers on Topix, incredible writers, I have urged Topix to market this creativity.
November 30, 2010 10:55 AM
Still think you're dealing with "trolls", then read these bios.
Richard "Rich" Skrenta (b.1967 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a computer programmer and Silicon Valley entrepreneur who created the search engine blekko.
In 1982, as a high school student at Mt. Lebanon High School, Skrenta wrote the Elk Cloner virus that infected Apple II machines. It is widely believed to be the first large-scale self-spreading personal computer virus ever created
After his stint at AOL he went on to cofound Topix LLC, a Web 2.0 company in the news aggregation & forums market. In 2005, he and his fellow cofounders sold a 75% share of Topix to a newspaper consortium made up of Tribune, Gannett, and Knight Ridder. Currently, he heads the startup company Blekko Inc, an internet search engine, which began public beta testing on November 1, 2010 and recently gained Marc Andreessen as an investor.
MarNetscape's IPO in 1995 propelled Andreessen into the public's imagination. Featured on the cover of Time and other publications, Andreessen became the poster-boy wunderkind of the Internet bubble generation: young, twenty-something, high-tech, ambitious, and worth millions (or billions) of dollars practically overnightc Andreessen-
Andreessen is an investor in social news website Digg and several other early-stage technology startups, like Plazes, Netvibes, CastTV and Twitter. His latest project is Ning, which launched in October 2004. (actually its the RockMelt browser launched in 2010 see below)
He serves on the board of Facebook, eBay, Kno, Hewlett-Packard, and Open Media Network, a combined Kontiki (VeriSign) client and media player, launched in 2005.
Andreessen married Laura Arrillaga in 2006. She is the founder of the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, and the daughter of Silicon Valley real estate billionaire John Arrillaga.
November 30, 2010 11:05 AM
The creaters of Topix all come out of the AOL milieu. Don't forget that narco terrorist group known as FARC had always used a special AOL account to communicate, launder drug money, etc.
AOL was essentially aiding the FARC in their cocaine and terrorist operations.
November 30, 2010 11:12 AM
Look at the latest "Highschool" hostage story out of Wisconsin. I'll guarantee you the suspect was a devotee of these "point and shoot" video games.
The suspect shot and killed himself as police were approaching.
This was same thing with the Columbine shootings and all the other school shootings. The shooter had become a brainwashed "game player".
The same interests that created these "video games" also created TOPIX.
November 30, 2010 11:32 AM
wow, so scary Jack. I have long wondered about the violence of video game playing. Wow, interesting.
November 30, 2010 12:19 PM
Whats going on in the Silicon Valley Jack??? And is it connected to the Hoover Institute at Stanford?
November 30, 2010 01:19 PM
The key to understanding what Topix is all about:
LSD Freaks Meet Cyber-Hackers
In 1974, Stewart Brand, chief propagandist for both the psychotropic drug revolution and the personal computer revolution, published a collection of his previously published essays under the title, II Cybernetic Frontiers. Two of the essays consisted of interviews he had conducted with Gregory Bateson, one of the architects of the psychedelic revolution in America, through his posting at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital, where much MK-Ultra experimentation took place. Bateson was one of the four or five most influential members of the Cybernetics Group. The other, longer essay in the book, ``Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums,'' was first published in the December 1972 issue of the leading counterculture publication, Rolling Stone.
Brand began the Rolling Stone piece with the startling boast: ``Ready or not, computers are coming to the people. That's good news, maybe the best since psychedelics.'' He continued, ``It's way off the track of the `Computers--Threat or Menace?' school of liberal criticism but surprisingly in line with the romantic fantasies of the fore-fathers of the science, such as Norbert Wiener, Warren McCulloch, J.C.R. Licklider, John von Neumann, and Vannevar Bush. The trend owes its health to an odd array of influences: the youthful fervor and firm dis-Establishmentarianism of the freaks who design computer science; an astonishingly enlightened research program from the very top of the Defense Department; an unexpected market-flanking movement by the manufacturers of small calculating machines; and an irrepressible midnight phenomenon known as Spacewar.''
Brand provided a detailed explanation of Spacewar, perhaps the very first computer war game to be designed. ``Ah, Spacewar. Reliably, at any night-time moment (i.e., non-business hours) in North America, hundreds of computer technicians are effectively out of their bodies, computer-projected onto cathode ray tube display screens, locked in life-or-death space combat for hours at a time, ruining their eyes, numbing their fingers in frenzied mashing of control buttons, joyously slaying their friends and wasting their employers' valuable computer time.''
Beginning in 1963, when the U.S. space program was moved out of the military and housed under NASA, J.C.R. Licklider convinced his boss at ARPA (what would later be called DARPA) to devote a fraction of the agency's budget to computer research. At the time, the Department of Defense was the world's largest consumer of computers. Licklider became the director of an ARPA unit called IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office), and, over the next years, disbursed millions of dollars to a wide range of computer and Artificial Intelligence research centers.
Until 1969, when the Mansfield Amendment placed restrictions on how the Pentagon could spend its research and development money, there were no boundary conditions on the kinds of projects that IPTO could bankroll. Billions of dollars went into the early development of computer networking, computer graphics, ``virtual reality,'' simulation, and other key facets of what, today, is a $9-11 billion-a-year commercial industry of point-and-shoot video games. The Media Lab at MIT and the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab were two of the magnets for this money and the research work which fueled both the Pentagon training-simulation programs and the evolving video-game industry.
In his book On Killing, Lt. Col. David Grossman recounts how the advent of high-speed computers allowed the social engineers, responsible for training soldiers to overcome their aversion to killing, provided an unsurpassed technology for stimulus-response behavior modification. The increasingly realistic video graphics, the advanced work on neurological processes--all hallmarks of the cybernetic ``man-machine'' project--transformed the U.S. military into a force of programmed killers, and ultimately became the social engineers' ``weapon of choice'' for twisting the minds of millions of America's youth.
The social engineers seeking to fulfill Adorno, Horkheimer, Russell, and Huxley's visions of a perfectly engineered society, led by a ``scientific dictatorship,'' were never far removed from the computer and AI labs where the technologies were being developed and tested.
November 30, 2010 02:16 PM
Wow. So do you believe this is all about the encouraging of inhuman behavior to produce a scientific dictatorship? also to use Topix to spy on and to gather personal data on people?
November 30, 2010 02:31 PM
did you see this Jack? http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article24643.html
November 30, 2010 03:33 PM
Virginia, the banks are already bankrupt. Look at the 100,000 person protest in Ireland over the last week. Besides it is these same bankrupt financial interests that created TOPIX and other social networking sites.
It is definitely "mind control" and "social control".
The events on TOPIX leave no doubt that there is a "gang" of souless cyber hackers running loose with sophisticated software, used to target the population.
The government should shut down TOPIX and confiscate all the infrastructure.
November 30, 2010 05:21 PM
wow. scary Jack. its explains a lot though. For instance, did you see my post about the death threat to Obama that took 31 days to remove?
November 30, 2010 05:46 PM
another thing Jack, if what you are saying is true, is that I have had a Monster troll on my back my entire time on Topix.
This human beast has done literally everything possible to demean, threaten and scare me in thousands of comments, its absolutely ridiculous the trolling I have endured on Topix. She changes names/characters all the time to mass troll me day and night with vile threats, name-steals, the works. She is a sadist.
No one could have endured, Jack, what I have on Topix, or few. I was one of the rare people, all that abuse made stronger and stronger.
November 30, 2010 06:03 PM
November 30, 2010 06:24 PM
The TOPIX trolls are very similiar.
Good for you for standing up to them.
What I don't like is they are able to spy on you.
November 30, 2010 06:26 PM
According to Crowell, the NSA has a great deal of expertise in
securing communications, and it wants to ensure that
products bought by the Defense Department meet NSA standards. "In addition, as part of the NSA's intelligence mission, [the agency needs] to have a thorough understanding of where commercial products are headed."
Taher Elgamal, author of the Netscape data-recovery plan, who
recently left Netscape to start his own venture, said Netscape had no choice but to maintain constant contact with the NSA. "They're costing the industry a lot of money," Elgamal said. Others agree.
"Everyone in Silicon Valley, including us, has to have specific staff - highly paid experts - to deal with them," said Chris Tolles, security group product manager at Sun.
"Their job is to wrangle this from a policy standpoint."
Sun has had run-ins with the NSA in the past. Two years ago, the NSA objected to Sun including encryption in the exportable version of Java 1.1. The end result was that Sun stripped encryption out of Java 1.1 and the software was delayed by about six months.
November 30, 2010 06:44 PM
oh no. just great, Jack. its bad enough when they threaten invasion into your personal life, its scary to think it could go further.
November 30, 2010 07:10 PM
can you explain what encryption means Jack?
November 30, 2010 07:12 PM
I guess this says it all:
"The NSA wants software vendors to make sure that any product with strong encryption have some way for the government to tap into the data."
November 30, 2010 07:13 PM
I knew the severity of the bullying I was enduring was wrong. I was like "the hell with you, you are not going to bully me off Topix". But I have been continually surprised, by the ferocity of it.
November 30, 2010 07:17 PM
People are forged by their circumstance.