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Why has Twitter banned 1500 accounts and what are NPCs?

Why has Twitter banned 1500 accounts and what are NPCs?

Postby smix » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:30 pm

Why has Twitter banned 1500 accounts and what are NPCs?
BBC News

URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-45888176
Category: Politics
Published: October 17, 2018

Description: The Trump-supporting right has a new favourite meme and it's being shared far and wide to troll their political opponents.

npc-meme.jpg

Twitter has suspended hundreds of accounts after users on pro-Trump Reddit forum r/The_Donald coordinated efforts to set up 'non-player character' profiles mocking liberals on the social networking site. The trolling campaign was born out of the characterisation of liberals as automatons incapable of independent thought on areas of Reddit and 4chan. In 24 hours there were more than 30,000 uses of the term NPC on Twitter, and Facebook pages dedicated to the trend have amassed tens of thousands of followers.

npc-meme-cnn.jpg

So what is an NPC?
It's a video game reference. Non-player characters (NPCs) are controlled by the game's artificial intelligence rather than the player. As a result, they're limited to certain scripted responses and actions. In a 2016 post on 4chan, one anonymous user referred to people "who autonomously follow groupthinks and social trends in order to appear convincingly human" as NPCs. "If you get in a discussion with them it's always the same buzzwords and hackneyed arguments," the poster wrote. "It's like in a [video game] when you accidentally talk to somebody twice and they give you the exact lines word for word once more." In recent months the term has been adopted enthusiastically by right-wing social media users. It's frequently used interchangeably with social justice warrior or SJW as a catch-all term for their political opponents.
Who's the grey guy?

npc-wojak-feels-guy.jpg

Wojak, aka Feels guy, is a simply-drawn character already used widely online. The character "is often used as a reaction image to represent feelings such as melancholy, regret or loneliness," according to Know Your Meme. The modification of Wojak's face to replace his emotive expression with a crudely-drawn, generic blank expression has become one of the most popular visual representations of the meme. As well as Wojak, images of prominent liberals were also modified. Colin Kaepernick, the American football player whose refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem to protest against police violence on African-Americans drew heavy criticism from President Trump, is among them. Other individuals whose images were doctored include Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who accused subsequently-confirmed Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, an allegation he strongly refuted.
How has it spread?

twitter-npc-avatars.jpg

As the term became more widely-used, a group of Reddit users on one of the most vociferously pro-Trump corners of the internet hatched a plan. Members of subreddit r/The_Donald, which has more than 667,000 subscribers, created scores of Twitter profiles featuring grey NPC faces. When some of the accounts started tweeting false information regarding the upcoming mid-term elections, Twitter took action to suspend a number of the accounts.
Who cares?
Well Twitter, clearly, since it has suspended profiles set up to spread them. And many conservatives are upset by that action. Plus what looks like a row over a meme sits in the broader context of ongoing culture wars. Trump supporters complain liberals denigrate them all as fascists or Russian bots. Liberals are angered by their mass characterisation as snowflakes or NPCs. The Trump-supporting right has proven itself adept at spreading memes online. Researchers from University College London who analysed a huge database of memes discovered the 4chan message board /pol/ and subreddit r/The_Donald were particularly effective. "We find that /pol/ substantially influences the meme ecosystem by posting a large number of memes, while r/The_Donald is the most efficient community in pushing memes to both fringe and mainstream web communities," the study's authors wrote.
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What Is NPC, the Pro-Trump Internet’s New Favorite Insult?

Postby smix » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:04 am

What Is NPC, the Pro-Trump Internet’s New Favorite Insult?
The New York Times

URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/us/p ... r-ban.html
Category: Politics
Published: October 16, 2018

Description: Twitter has barred hundreds of right-wing accounts for posing as soulless, “nonplayable” liberal activists.

NPCs.jpg

Last week, a trolling campaign organized by right-wing internet users spilled over onto Twitter. The campaign, which was born in the fever swamps of 4chan and Reddit message boards, involved creating hundreds of fictional personas with gray cartoon avatars, known as NPCs. These accounts posed as liberal activists and were used to spread — among other things — false information about November’s midterm elections. Over the weekend, Twitter responded by suspending about 1,500 accounts associated with the NPC trolling campaign. The accounts violated Twitter’s rules against “intentionally misleading election-related content,” according to a person familiar with the company’s enforcement process. The person, who would speak only anonymously, was not authorized to discuss the decision. If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Here, we try to unpack the NPC meme, what it means and why it’s causing trouble on Twitter.
What is an NPC?
NPC means “nonplayable character” or “nonplayer character.” It’s a term, borrowed from the world of video games, for a character that is controlled by the computer rather than by a player. An NPC often advances the game’s plot by saying scripted lines, or assisting the playable characters in some way. A classic example of an NPC is Navi, a character in the 1998 video game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time who acts as a navigator for Link, the game’s protagonist.
What does this have to do with politics?
Several months ago, users on 4chan and Reddit, the online message forums, started using the term NPC to refer to liberals. These people, they said, join the anti-Trump crowd not because they are led by independent thought or conscience to oppose President Trump’s policies, but because they’re brainwashed sheep who have been conditioned to parrot left-wing orthodoxy, in the manner of a scripted character. As a Reddit user, BasedMedicalDoctor, explains in a thread about the appeal of the meme, NPCs are “completely dependent on their programming, and can’t do or think on their own.”
Is there more to the NPC meme?
Sort of. There is NPC Wojak — a crudely drawn, gray cartoon avatar with a pointy nose and a blank face. NPC Wojak is a variation of Wojak, an old cartoon (also known as “feels guy”) that has become a kind of collective mascot for the far-right commenters online. In recent weeks, users on 4chan and Reddit have made all kinds of memes featuring NPC Wojak. Here is one:

npc-robot.jpg

And this is a thing … why?
It’s a long story, but the short version is that a group of young, extremely pro-Trump internet trolls have spent the past several years mocking anti-Trump people as whiny, easily triggered snowflakes who are primarily motivated by social acceptance rather than by logic and critical thinking. Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters — including, as of last week, Kanye West — put their support for him in the language of freethinking rationality and paint the other side as being motivated by blind loyalty and identity politics. (Mr. West said of his pre-Trump-supporting days, “I was programmed to think from a victimized mentality.”) The NPC meme fits neatly into this narrative and offers Mr. Trump’s online supporters an easy shorthand way to paint liberals as humorless prudes who say “Drumpf” because the HBO host John Oliver told them to, who march in protests and put on pink “pussyhats” because they’re the popular things to do, and whose views can’t withstand scrutiny. (And then, when progressives object to a meme that portrays them as unthinking automatons, it becomes another piece of evidence: See? The left can’t take a joke.)
So what happened with Twitter?
Late last week, a group of users on r/the_donald, Reddit’s largest pro-Trump forum, decided to take the NPC meme to a wider audience. They created dozens of Twitter accounts using fictional NPC personalities, the NPC Wojak avatar and bios like “fighting against Nazi Racist Drumpf Fascist Cheetofinger.” They used these accounts to follow and tweet at one another, as well as at liberals, creating the semblance of an army of resisters mindlessly repeating anti-Trump talking points. The campaign began as a joke. But a few of the accounts started posting misleading information about the midterm elections, including encouraging liberals to vote on Nov. 7. (Election Day is Nov. 6.) This was a bridge too far for Twitter, whose rules prohibit giving out knowingly false voter information.
Are these people actually trying to interfere in the election?
Probably not. Evidence suggests that these are mostly just attention-starved gamers looking to impress one another by “triggering the libs” with edgy memes. But not everyone gets the joke. State officials are already worried that voters will be fooled by deliberate social media campaigns that contain incorrect voting information. Similar types of disinformation spread on social media in 2016, which makes companies like Twitter nervous.
Are these Russian bots?

npc-bear.jpg

Probably not. (Although some of the NPC accounts may have been automated, there is no sign that Russia is involved in this.) Mostly, it appears to be a 4chan joke that spiraled into some mild voter suppression.
Aren’t you giving these trolls the attention they’re seeking by writing about them in The New York Times?
Yes, probably. But understanding how these things happen, and how easily joke memes can escape the internet’s seedy underbelly and morph into actual tools of influence, is part of understanding the mechanics of modern politics. As we’ve learned, ignoring trolls doesn’t always make them go away.
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The NPC Meme Is an Invitation to the Middle

Postby smix » Mon Jul 01, 2019 12:29 am

The NPC Meme Is an Invitation to the Middle
The Epoch Times

URL: https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-npc-m ... 89283.html
Category: Pollitics
Published: February 3, 2019

Description: Of all the memes that have been levelled at the radical left, the innoquous NPC has hit closest to home. The meme has quickly gained traction to become one of the most popular viral creations in the ideological online left vs. right war waging across North America. Sometimes described as pro-Trump, the NPC meme is actually far more broad in its utility. NPC refers to what is known in the gaming community as a non-player character. These characters run a pre-programmed pattern and have no capability for independent thought or behavior. They are peripheral characters with no utility to advance the game or operate outside their program. The implications are obvious. The meme itself is a crude stick-figure face superimposed on the face of someone who is spouting ideological rhetoric. CNN news anchors are a favorite target.

msnpc-news.jpg

It is not explicitly insulting or offensive and doesn’t divide across gender or racial lines. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any overt offence in its bland aesthetic. Yet the NPC meme has struck a nerve because it speaks to an uncomfortable truth about the ideologically possessed and their distortion of facts in favor of emotion. The meme is geniusly strategic in that it simply questions a person’s ability or willingness to think objectively. It doesn’t divide across any other line. Although it has mostly targeted the left, it can be applied equally to anyone who is ideologically possessed. It has proven hard to reckon with for those it has been levied at, because to offer any ideologically tinted defense is to admit its validity.
Middle Ground
The conservative viewpoint on most contentious issues, such as abortion, climate change, and gender neutrality, are not discussed in the mainstream media. They are simply dismissed or hijacked by those whose sole goal is to ensure that the opposing side doesn’t get a voice. Feel strongly about an issue? Fan the flames of division and make sure your opponent is left humiliated, silenced, and defeated. It’s not a war of ideas, it’s a war of ideologies. In this polarized climate, the rarest and most constructive conversations are taking place closer to the middle where proponents agree to disagree and discuss and weigh issues on their merit. Debate through analysis of the facts as they are, not how we wish them to be, assures that issues can be dismantled and debated on their merit, not on their affiliations. The middle ground appears to be uncommon but there is ample evidence to suggest that the majority of North America is more nuanced than the major news networks would suggest. The networks need ratings and with the monetization of the news, sensationalism sells and soundbites rule. Twitter, the favored megaphone of the irrational is, by its very nature, nothing more than a shallow means of reducing the necessarily complex to the ideologically simplified. Long-form discussion, the kind necessary to unpack complicated issues, is rare but absolutely necessary. The Munk debates, for example, allow the popular, polarizing figures of our time to debate and defend their ideas on a respectful, inquisitive stage where each can speak in turn, relying on the validity of their argument to win the day. Steve Bannon’s recent Munk appearance in Toronto was met with the same protests that accompany any public platform given to conservative thinkers. But democratic institutions depend on free-thinking and free-speaking individuals. It’s not productive, to say the least, to cow or be cowed into submission by threat or coercion. The left has been more fervent and politicized in recent years. By blocking conservative speakers from campuses and drowning out those who disagree with their worldview, they may feel that they are winning a certain victory. It has become increasingly obvious, though, that their tactics are the result of an inability to articulate any thought that departs from the ideological programming. Hence the NPC meme has, for all of its rudimentary characteristics, eloquently and effectively exposed these shallow tactics for what they are: An attempt to hijack free thought and replace it with an ideological lense that will homogenize and subordinate the people.
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