Atavisionary lists seven traits of the disinformation artist. Here are the three I found most important for distinguishing between the organic critic and the professional social media agent tasked with discrediting a target:
- They never actually discuss issues head on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.
- An odd kind of “artificial” emotionalism and an unusually thick skin — an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance. This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial. Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their presentation. But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the “image” and are hot and cold with respect to emotions they pretend to have and the more calm or normal communications which are not emotional. It’s just a job, and they often seem unable to “act their role in type” as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation. You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later — an emotional yo-yo. With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game — where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth.
- I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author. For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education.
Another observable trait is that the hasbaran will usually take on the role of shepherd for the organic community even if he isn’t responsible for creating the platform in the first place. He’ll guide them back to the target again and again when they get sidetracked or become interested more in tangential topics. And despite his leadership position, he’s usually the person who reveals the least personal information about himself despite being one of the most frequent posters.
The “artificial emotionalism” observation is important, because the paid disinfo agent usually has a very calm demeanor that is entirely at odds with his professed motivation of outrage. He also gets extremely evasive whenever the community’s attention is directed at him, in stark contrast to organic leaders, who relish every opportunity to talk about themselves and love to make themselves the primary topic of discussion.