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"Team Ninja Trollhunters" - fighting 'climate change denial' on Twitter by... erm, trolling

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The 'ninjas' fighting climate change denial on Twitter

Maria and Arthur, members of Team Ninja Trollhunters, stand next to each other wearing face masks to hide their identity

Maria and Arthur, two of the 'ninjas', fear that revealing their identities could put them at risk



I meet Maria and Arthur at the top of a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, in a small coastal town in Spain.

They ask me not to reveal their real names or their exact whereabouts. Over the years, they have made countless enemies on the internet, and they believe stepping out of the shadows could prove dangerous.

"For you to be able to do your work, and not be scared of the consequences, you really have to fly under the radar," Maria tells me.

In 2019, she helped set up Team Ninja Trollhunters, a group of 25 people from around the world who came together to fight climate change denial on Twitter.

"For me, it was a necessity to show that many things that are being tweeted are wrong," Maria says.

Like some of her fellow vigilantes, she has a background in science, which comes in handy when looking through complex research.

But, with her blue Snoopy t-shirt, Maria does not immediately strike me as a "ninja" - and neither does her softly spoken partner, Arthur, whom she recruited into the group.

"We fought many battles together and we also had a lot of fun," he says.

When the group first came together in 2019, part of its time was spent fact-checking false or misleading claims they found on Twitter.

The "ninjas" spotted claims going viral and responded to them with links to factual information - academic papers or scientific reports.

"But after a couple of months, you realise you don't make an impact because, for most of these people, facts are irrelevant," Maria says.

from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-65114966


Oh dear me, these pesky do-gooder fact-checkers that don't like it when people express an opinion contrary to their ingrained narrative.


It's probably no surprise that the 'tactics' they employed in order to carry out their 'mission' will sound so familiar to many.



The "ninjas" began keeping tabs on prominent Twitter accounts which disputed the basic science of climate change. Whenever those users tweeted something which broke the platform's rules, they would report them.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether they get suspended because of Covid-19 misinformation or Nazi symbols," Maria tells me. "When they're gone, they're gone."

Thousands of hours of slow, painstaking work paid off - or so the "ninjas" like to believe. They claim that, as a result of their actions, about 600 Twitter accounts promoting climate change denial were suspended.

"When I engaged climate change deniers, I noticed some of them got agitated. So I continued to do it, until the point they showed harassing behaviour [against me], which is not allowed," he told me. "Then you can get rid of them."

I suggest to Arthur that his behaviour may not be dissimilar to that of an online troll. "You could say that, because it is partially true," he replies.


Who's trolling who then?


As for Maria and Arthur now...



Maria and Arthur have now left Twitter, but other members of the group have stayed there. Their online battle continues.

I have spoken to several of the group's current members, and they described a recent "uptick" in climate misinformation circulating on Twitter.

For Arthur, this proves just now relevant the "ninjas" continue to be. "If just a fraction of regular people would do what we did, we would be much louder than all deniers together."

"Online battle" lol


The way I look at this, every good 'debate' needs two sides. Trying to shut down any debate, by getting those with contrary views suspended or banned, is not any way to 'win' such a debate. It's just another form of 'narrative enforcing'.

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22 minutes ago, Grumpy Owl said:

The way I look at this, every good 'debate' needs two sides. Trying to shut down any debate, by getting those with contrary views suspended or banned, is not any way to 'win' such a debate. It's just another form of 'narrative enforcing'.


I quite agree.

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