In Latin America, the business of trolling threatens Twitters disruptive power

Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo This American Life did a special on politics in Afghanistan. They noted that in order to be a politician in Afghanistan, one needs to command a personal armed militia. That’s how politics is practiced in a fragmented country with a long history of violence, and without a stable, credible centralized authority. In the quaint and relatively peaceful Andean nation of Ecuador, snuggled between Colombia and Peru, a similar phenomenon takes place: politicians don’t require armed guards, but they do require their digital equivalent: Twitter troll centers, or businesses that sell online harassment as a service. Indeed, much of the country’s public debate, or lack thereof, is now defined by the anonymous accounts that threaten, cajole and, ultimately, aim …