MySpace Tom Fake-Trolls the Twitter Trolls: Which Troll Won?

Tom Anderson gets nasty on Twitter... to prove a point about nastiness on Twitter. A blow-by-blow scorecard.

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The Contenders: In one corner, Tom Anderson, a.k.a. "MySpace Tom," the guy who founded the now irrelevant MySpace. In his "retired" after-life, Anderson has become a tech pundit, blogging for TechCrunch along with punditting to his huge Google+ following. In the other corner: Twitter trolls, as in people who say mean things for the sake of eliciting a reaction.

The Opening Round: Sick of all the complaining over Instagram's terms of service changes, Anderson decided to jump in to the ring with the following tweet to his 200,000-plus followers Wednesday night: "fear over Instagram's terms change is ridiculous... Get real folks!"

The Counter-Punch: To that Twitter user @polotapia decided to land an easy blow at the MySpace founder: "says the guys that was not able to keep a social network alive."

The Counter-Counter-Punch: Anderson likely takes these kind of hits all the time. But this time he decided to punch back with an "I'm richer than you anyway" line. He tweeted back to @polotapia: "says the guy who sold myspace in 2005 for $580 million while you slave away hoping for a half day-off." That tweet has over 6,000 retweets, with various polarizing responses attached to them. Some have called it a "sick burn," with Reddit posting it as a "deserved" response. Or does Mr. MySpace just look, as Gizmodo put it, like a "prick"?

What They Say They're Fighting About: Decency on the Internet, or the lack thereof. Anderson, in a Google+ post, explained his joke as an "experiment." The Internet entrepreneur has discovered that saying mean things on the Internet draws more of a reaction than saying nice things. "As an experiment, I've continued to sound off like a regular ol' Charlie Sheen, and the Twitter audience just loves it," he wrote. So Anderson's trolling was actually a stand against trolling. Of course, on the other side of things, he also kind of looks like a jerk. From Gizmodo's Sam Biddle: "Part of being a lucky, rich guy who is set for life because of ordinary people means not making fun of ordinary people."

What They're Really Fighting About: Anderson's real problem is with the Twitter community itself, and so this may be about the state of social networks — and the distance between them — more than one rich guy and one angry follower. "It seems the main thing people are interested in over there is showing off, one-upping each other and fighting. I've noticed that this kind of behavior before gets a lot of attention on Twitter," Anderson writes. Note the use of the phrase "over there" as a distancing mechanism. Anderson isn't part of that. He claims his following had been decreasing until these recent "experiments." On the other hand, Anderson has a big Google+ following, with over 4 million people having him in their circles. Over there he plays Mr. Nice Guy, say other G+ commenters.

Then again, is Anderson really getting high and mighty over Google+, the social network that a year and half after launch is still trying, desperately, to prove itself?

Who's Winning Now: We'd say Anderson. He has gained 9,000 followers on Twitter since the incident, he claims in that Google+ post. And, while most people seem to appreciate the joke, even more say that he's a generally nice guy — at least on Google+. Plus, this @polotapia guy's Twitter account is currently suspended.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.