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Flamebait is a message or post intended to arouse controversy. The flamebait can be introduced into any type of digital forum such as a social media platform, a comment thread or anywhere else that people interact online.
The word “flamebait” is a noun for the actual message or content that is being used to try to promote an emotional or passionate response. The person posting flamebait is often called an “Internet troll” or simply a “troll.” The activity of posting flamebait may be referred to as “trolling.”
The use of flamebait says various things about the digital world. It speaks to the potential of the Internet to amplify human emotions and opinions, and to facilitate all kinds of awkward interactions. Many of these interactions are public, in the sense that they occur in public digital forums. People then have to navigate between their behavior online and their behavior in public spaces. Flamebait can also illustrate the ways that societies are polarized around issues, or the ways in which different groups of people interact. Those analyzing flamebait may talk about personal power struggles or particular relationships both online and in real life.