Trolling is now a 24x7 online job that has its own faithful set of followers who diligently churn out one-liners, repartees, memes

Trolling is hard work mate say experts ICU and Troll Malayalam
news Trolls Tuesday, June 07, 2016 - 18:36

Irrespective of geographical settings, Malayalis are a witty bunch who can come up with quick humorous retorts for any occasion. And with the advent of the online world, Malayalis all over the world are having a blast trolling anything and everything that comes under their radar.

 So what if it’s trolling…that too is hard work, mate! It requires dedication, quick thinking, an unconventional approach to the mundane and an imagination that goes wild with humour.

 Trolling is now a 24x7 online job that has its own faithful set of followers who diligently churn out one-liners, repartees and memes on any contemporary issue that is guaranteed to go viral on social media. Their universal motto is: Nothing -we repeat- nothing is considered to be holy ground. Trolls rush in, where even angels fear to tread.

 One such hard-working ‘Mallu’ group who prefers to call themselves the International Chalu Union -popularly known by their acronym- ICU has over a lakh members contributing to the online troll world.

 ICU which initially started off as a group of peers in Orkut, later transformed into a well-liked group on Facebook group that seems to increase its fan base by the minu te and its opponents by the second.

 With the disproportionate amount of flak it generates with each post, the actual group has no option but to operate in a secretive mode. It is only after initial screening and monitoring the bulk of posts that they receive, around 60 administrators then pick what they deem the best of the lot and post it after duly editing the same on their official Facebook page which is supported through crowd-sourcing and has roughly around 5 lakh followers.

You can be part of the ICU group only if an existing member adds you to the group or if you are approved after you leave a message on their Facebook page.

 The content of Troll Malayalam -another popular troll group- is actually generated by a sacrosanct Facebook group that consists of around 2 lakh members. Maintained by 18 administrators, the content is then reproduced on the official page, after the requisite filtering and re-working of the posts.

Both these pages have their own special teams to take care of all aspects of the editing involved, be it the picture quality, language, font size and the style of reproduction. Each post usually takes around quarter to half an hour to be made into its final avatar.

 Hiran Venugopalan -one of ICU’s administrators- says that they receive around 300 to 400 posts a day, out of which only 10 to 14 posts are put out on the page each day. 

 On the other hand, Subhash Nair -an administrator of Troll Malayalam- claims that their group receives around 1500 to 2000 posts every day, of which only 14 to 25 posts are uploaded on the page per day. 

Criteria for selecting a post

 Hiran lists out all that are a strict no-no. Any post that involves personal harassment, communal undertone, anti-women sentiment, political and sexual insensitivity, homophobia, double meaning and crass words are rejected outright. They also try and filter out boring and repetitive material.               

To cite an instance, Hiran recalls that the group received a lot of posts about solar scam accused Saritha Nair that were personally demeaning in nature. The group naturally refrained from uploading the same, thereby leading to many people tagging them as pro-UDF. 

Troll Malayalam operates in a similar fashion. Apart from posts that are politically incorrect and ones which can be deemed to construe personal harassment, they also refrain from putting up posts that are anti-reservationist and revengeful in nature.

“If we troll Mammootty, then we are tagged as pro-Mohanlal. If we troll UDF or BJP, then we are pro-CPI(M). But what people don’t understand is that we troll every one, irrespective of our own personal beliefs and opinions,” chuckles Hiran.

For Subhash, apart from the abuses and tags, he has also had the (mis)fortune to be at the receiving end of death threats. “I have been getting a lot of death threats. At first, it was kind of scary, but now I don’t take them seriously,” he chuckles. 

Religion is another controversial topic and both groups have received a hell lot of hate messages for a few of their posts involving religion, so much so that the pages were blocked multiple times on Facebook.

The Modi ‘Bhakt’ army too has it in for these trolls with them regularly invading both these pages on Facebook. Terming them a ‘public nuisance”, Subhash opines that Modi seems to have become a religion in himself and that such blind worship is indeed worrisome. 

Interestingly, both groups unanimously agree that there are five topics that by default generate the maximum opposition, if and when trolled. These are religion, Kerala politics, Mohanlal, Mammootty and Narendra Modi.

 They do however admit that they do not get it right all the time. Hiran confesses, “Many a time, we put up posts based on incomplete or misleading information. When such instances are brought to our notice, we do make sure that we pull down the post at the earliest and issue a speedy apology for the same.” 

Trolls are humans, after all!

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