A concern troll is someone who will pretend to be a part of a group in order to cast doubt on their cause and undermine their efforts.
In other words, they will pose as an ally of the group just so they can damage it from within.
Let’s say, for example, that a politician called Joe Malone is running for mayor. In a couple of weeks, he will be facing off against the current mayor, Sara Hudson.
Malone’s supporters have a Facebook group where they discuss the campaign and share news articles about it.
A few days before the election, one of Sara Hudson’s supporters decides to join the group and create the following post:
“I’ve been a huge fan of Joe Malone for years. I will be voting for him this Friday. However, I do wonder if he has enough experience for this role. Does anyone else think that he should maybe wait for another couple of years?”
This is a perfect example of “concern trolling”.
In this case, the person is pretending to be a supporter of Joe Malone just so they can raise fake “concerns” about him.
In reality, they have no intention of voting for him. They are just trying to sow discord and raise people’s doubts about his experience.
Why do people use concern trolling as a tactic?
Concern trolls know that their words carry more weight if everyone believes that they are a part of “the cause”.
They also know that being honest about their political affiliations will get them nowhere.
As a result, they will insert themselves into the group and then attempt to erode everyone’s confidence from within.
Take the following example:
“I am a supporter of Sara Hudson. However, her voting record on city taxes has made me disillusioned. I will probably vote for Joe Malone next week, even though I dislike him.”
This poster has never supported Hudson. Instead, he is a long-time supporter of her challenger.
Here is another example of concern trolling:
“I am no fan of Party X. However, I will be voting for them in the next election. I am sick and tired of how Party Y is handling the economy.”
In this case, the person is attempting to paint themselves as an unbiased observer.
By pretending to be neutral or independent, they can give off the impression that “the tide is turning” and that the common person is starting to side with Party X.
The goal here is to try and sway undecideds by making them believe that the momentum is swinging in Party X’s favor.
As you can see, concern trolling is a dishonest tactic that political zealots will use to sow discontent among opposition supporters.
Although it is common on political message boards, you will also find it elsewhere.
By and large, this type of troll can appear in any group that shares a common belief.