Trolls come in many sizes and shapes in Finland

by , under Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

I read an interesting blog entry on Iowa State Daily that gave a very good suggestion to the vicious racist stuff you find in the blogsphere: “Require identification for comments and monitor, monitor, monitor the trolls,” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. “The blogosphere is full of trolls, and some write the most vicious things. Keep them out of mainstream media, and ignore them whenever you can.”

Even if this suggestion seems pretty sensible, we must take it a step further and ask why we must have an effective troll detector. The answer is simple: spreading vicious urban tales that are racist are more hostile than meets the eye.

While it is difficult to measure how much racism and suspicion hate forums like Hommaforum and Scripta fuel, it’s pretty clear that they do have an impact on some Finns’ prejudices. Maintaining these prejudices is synonymous with sidestepping and maintaining some people’s racist perceptions.

After taking part and reading over 21,700 comments on Migrant Tales, I could pretty confidently say that trolls have inhibited debate and effectively taken our eye off the ball, or the real issue, which is finding solutions to the social ill.

One of the most ludicrous claims by Internet trolls is that if their hate speech is censored we will be undermining an important civil liberty like free speech. Apart from being utter baloney it is one of the trolls’ many red herrings on the Internet.

Trolls aren’t always anonymous. If Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP James Hirvisaari ever took part in a discussion on Migrant Tales, there is a good chance that he’d never make it past our troll detector.

One of the favorite strategies of the trolls is to take an issue like racism and accuse the victim of being the racist or changing the argument around.

Trolls are a strange bunch that are constantly demanding to be treated as exceptions. They label whole ethnic groups like PS MP Jussi Halla-aho did today in Parliament with Eastern European Roma, but don’t like to be labelled themselves as far-right racists.

In many respects their arguments on the rights of immigrants and visible minorities in our societies resembles what was debated in many Latin American countries in the 1970s: Should we have a military or democratic government in power?

Can we ever “debate” and compromise those civil liberties guaranteed in our Constitution? Certainly not but this is what anonymous and real-name trolls are actually lobbying for.

In the spiteful and myopic world of people like Hirvisaari, the argument is not only hostile to certain ethnic groups but horrifying: We have the right to tear off the Muslim veil off women because we are looking after their rights.

These types of arguments commonly used by Finland’s far-right anti-immigration extremists are nothing more than red herrings. If you think that these people are looking after your civil rights, think twice.

If you disagree with what I am writing, pay a visit to Hommaforum and read the far-right Counter-Jihadist baloney on Halla-aho’s blog Scripta and you will see what I mean.

JusticeDemon has said in the past that we mustn’t feed the trolls on Migrant Tales.  True but we should see them like the famous warning on a pack of cigarettes: Trolls are hazardous to your mental health and may seriously distort your view of other groups.


    • Migrant Tales

      Hi BlandaUpp, some people with malicious intent forced Migrant Tales to be closed for about 13 hours. When the folks at WordPress found out that it was a far-right scheme, they opened the site again. We are not going to take any chances of this happening again. We will be migrating slowly to another site this spring. Nobody will be able to shut us down the way they did.

      I noticed that people on Hommaforum were pretty happy but their party ended pretty abruptly.

  1. Native Finnish Woman

    Yes, I’m curious about that too. WordPress said it’s offline because it’s broken the Terms of Use or something. I hope it wasn’t reported to Worpress on baseless grounds or anything. I’ve heard about that kind of thing happening.

  2. eyeopener

    Hi BlandaUpp

    Nice question!! Don’t let us jump to conclusions or even assumptions. Enrique will inform us about the “downing of the site”.

    In the light and context of the recent developments on this site the “downing” send a signal, a strong one.

    We have to wait and listen to the provider’s explanation of the “closure”. Just stating that it is not according to the rules of service-provision is unacceptable!! A more and better evidenced answer is expected from WordPress.


  3. eyeopener

    🙂 MT

    They are soooooooo simple!

    But can fool other people who don’t know them. Chapeau for WordPress to recognize their mistake and open up the blog.

    Cool to be on air again.

  4. D4R

    Where is our freedome of speech? they can make us death threat on homaforum or on Iltalehti or other Finnish sites, but when we open a blog where we share our conerns they try to shut us down? Scary.

  5. eyeopener


    Scary?? No!!. Questionable?? Yes!!

    I sincerely hope that some indications are given about who has try to stop MT from transmitting their ideas in Finland.

    There are some suggestions but I am not willing to follow those. Clear and transparent communications about the perpetrators makes MT a reliable and trustworthy blog to follow.

    Don’t let us fall in the trap of the persons/organizations who have tried to shut us down.

    Vigilance, agility and critical thinking are the tools to meet our opponents.

    Cheer up, we are on-line again 🙂

  6. Native Finnish Woman

    I truly feel sickened that some people did that. I also can’t believe how dumb it is. Do the perpetrators want to associate anti-diversity opinions with the other groups that do this on the internet (religious fanatics, con-artists fearing exposure, anti-vaxxinators, hate-groups…)? If I was anti-diversity, I’d be pretty angry at and embarrassed over these vigilantes giving my opinions an even less respectable reputation.

    I’m glad you were able to convince WordPress so quickly. Some blogs never get back online after this kind of thing…

  7. eyeopener

    Hi Native Finnish Woman.

    I agree with your “feeling sick”. To try to silence people who have a different opinion. It’s so simple!!

    Diiference of opinion should not scare us. That’s not the point.Differences belong to be humanity.

    However: dispute, dicussion, dialogue about differences are not a platform to deny other opinions. On the contrary, the platform (-s) should encourage exchange of opinions positively.

    I hold the opinion that -in case of what happened- offence is the best defence. That’s sometimes very hard. Nearly crossing the line of the “acceptable”. I have done that once!! I will have to account for that at court. That’s alright with me and I will see. MT is not to blame for that.

    In contrast to the openess of MT our opponents have provoke many of us to go to the limit of acceptance. For some of the opponents this MIGHThave been the reason to complain to WordPress. We wait for further explanations.

    Migrant Tales is open and will stay open. Our opponents will never be able shut us up.

    As simple as that!!