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TrollThrottle --- Raising the Cost of Astroturfing

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-11-29, 18:13 authored by Ilkan Esiyok, Lucjan HanzlikLucjan Hanzlik, Robert KünnemannRobert Künnemann, Lena Marie Budde, Michael BackesMichael Backes
Astroturfing, i.e., the fabrication of public discourse by private or state-controlled sponsors via the creation of fake online accounts, has become incredibly widespread in recent years. It gives a disproportionally strong voice to wealthy and technology-savvy actors, permits targeted attacks on public forums and could in the long run harm the trust users have in the internet as a communication platform. Countering these efforts without deanonymising the participants has not yet proven effective; however, we can raise the cost of astroturfing. Following the principle `one person, one voice', we introduce Trollthrottle, a protocol that limits the number of comments a single person can post on participating websites. Using direct anonymous attestation and a public ledger, the user is free to choose any nickname, but the number of comments is aggregated over all posts on all websites, no matter which nickname was used. We demonstrate the deployability of Trollthrottle by retrofitting it to the popular news aggregator website Reddit and by evaluating the cost of deployment for the scenario of a national newspaper (168k comments per day), an international newspaper (268k c/d) and Reddit itself (4.9M c/d).


Preferred Citation

Ilkan Esiyok, Lucjan Hanzlik, Robert Künnemann, Lena Budde and Michael Backes. TrollThrottle --- Raising the Cost of Astroturfing. In: International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS). 2020.

Primary Research Area

  • Algorithmic Foundations and Cryptography

Secondary Research Area

  • Reliable Security Guarantees

Name of Conference

International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS)

Legacy Posted Date


Open Access Type

  • Unknown


@inproceedings{cispa_all_3160, title = "TrollThrottle --- Raising the Cost of Astroturfing", author = "Esiyok, Ilkan and Hanzlik, Lucjan and Künnemann, Robert and Budde, Lena Marie and Backes, Michael", booktitle="{International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS)}", year="2020", }

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