Trolls, Comments & IP Addresses Unmasked

For more than a year the Johns Creek Post has been criticized not only for some of the content and conclusions in their posts submitted by volunteers from throughout the Community but also for some of the comments left by readers. Our articles were on issues that were affecting all of us: Traffic, 400-foot tower, Billboards & more. All of our posts are still there, to read at your leisure.

Multiple times we had messages from Council Members who did not like a comment someone left.  They were the opinions of the commenter. They were not the position of the Johns Creek Post.  Vulgar comments were not allowed. 

Should we hide those comments for those with delicate feelings?  Or should we as a community know how people are feeling, even if we disagree with them? Frankly, we are all adults, and living in one of the most educated communities in Georgia, we can generally separate fact from fiction on the web.

Last fall, as political races headed into the home stretch and criticism, reached a crescendo, we were surprised. We worked hard to ensure that our questions for candidates treated all candidates equally.  The deadlines were the same for all. There were no exceptions. If you cannot do your homework during the election, how will you do as a Council Member every two weeks with 4-day deadlines?

The critics were lined up at the Public Comment section of the meetings to attack the Johns Creek Post. Reviewing the comments we noticed that there were comments submitted with different monikers and coming from the same IP address.

ip

Every machine on a network has a unique identifier. Just as you would address a letter to send in the mail, computers use the unique identifier to send data to specific computers on a network. Most networks today, including all computers on the Internet, use the TCP/IP protocol as the standard for how to communicate on the network. In the TCP/IP protocol, the unique identifier for a computer is called its IP address.

Source: https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/what-is-an-ip-address.htm

What is a Troll?

A troll is a member of an Internet community who posts offensive, divisive & controversial comments – Wiki

We discovered that two of the loudest voices in our community also happened to be posting under several aliases. 

At that time, we asked ourselves should we reveal this information and decided No. 

We did not want to possibly affect the outcome of the 2017 election in this manner.  And frankly, we did not care that they used the variety of names they used. Some are actually quite funny.

Fast forward to yesterday where a topic on Cyber Bullying was added to the agenda in a very hasty fashion, and we had to make a choice.

Mayor Bodker even called on the public to unmask the trolls.

After thirty minutes of verbal attacks blaming the Johns Creek Post for what ails this City, we decided we needed to share the information we have.

Below are screenshots of the information we presented last evening and how we connected Councilman Lenny Zaprowski to a specific IP address. 

Back on June 9th, 2017, the JCP owner received a text message from Councilman Lenny Zaprowski, regarding a comment he submitted on the HUD funding post. 

Lenny_text_June9_2017
Note: date & time stamps correlate on the text message & 1st comment below
With that IP Address, we were able to find other comments with different monikers.
Most of the comments would cast Councilman Lenny Zaprowski in a Positive light, in addition to topics or candidates he favored.
Clues in these comments suggested additional IP addresses were being used.
Many comments were submitted with PFrancis@Protonmail.com in the contact info. It is a fictitious email address according to an email verifier.
Another IP used by "Paul Francis" led to a long string of comments with different monikers, found in our archive.
Overall, 3 IP addresses were used since 2015.

The Average person uses Three IP Addresses:
Smartphone, Home & Workplace

Councilman Lenny Zaprowski Denies making the anonymous and fake name comments and claimed his IP address was “Spoofed”. 

What is IP Spoofing, and how likely could that have happened? 

Spoofing

A spoofing attack is when a malicious party impersonates another device or user on a network in order to launch attacks against network hosts, steal data, spread malware or bypass access controls.

Source: S4curity

Here is a great video explaining the intricacies of how this is done. 

After watching, do you think this was done to Lenny over a period of 3 years?

Could this be done on the Johns Creek Post Website?

Highly unlikely.

Our website has from inception uses Cryptographic Network Protocols. This includes Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Shell (SSH) & HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) as well as other secure protocols. 

The Politics of Free Speech

1)  We wanted to share the data we have and point out the hypocrisy.

2)  We show that it’s NOT just people that they have deemed “haters” that post anonymously.  We allow comments that hate on the JCP too.

3)  We demonstrate integrity by not having revealed it during the 2017 election cycle, when Lenny Zaprowski was up for re-election.

4)  People will be allowed to continue to post anonymously. Many in the community fear of being bullied by Elected Officials for expressing opinions about the Government.

What it is that Councilman Lenny Zaprowski & Mayor Bodker are seeking?  An end to criticism?  Only criticism they feel they deserve and approve of?  Or just a general end to any discussions at all?

Finally, we must state 99% of the comments they are referencing as being derogatory are being posted on their own Facebook pages.  So why haven’t they done what they can to eliminate the issues for themselves? Why haven’t they blocked them? Why are trolls on their Facebook pages, Johns Creek Posts problem to solve? 

Mayor Bodker stated he and the City cannot control Facebook, why does he expect the JCP to do so? 

Why did the Mayor include in his budget passed Monday night, tax dollars which allocated a whopping $465k for Four Communications Staff that maintain Social Media, and $12,500 for ads on Facebook and Twitter?

Talk about Hypocrisy…

13 thoughts on “Trolls, Comments & IP Addresses Unmasked”

    1. Agreed. We felt that we did not want to make this personal. After all, elections are supposed to be about real issues. That this City Council discussed for any amount of time individuals posting on their PERSONAL Facebook pages and blaming the JCP for it was inappropriate. That time would have been better spent discussing traffic light timing. And if you disagree with a user’s comments at the JCP, I’d suggest anyone state your rational and logical response. The readers are more than capable of analyzing the comments. They do it daily at many other social media websites.

  1. Your understanding of IP addresses is vague at best. The IP address above is from AT&T U-verse, somewhere in the Johns Creek area. It’s very possible that this IP address is associated with a business account, perhaps even a coffee shop. It’s equally possible that this IP address which you allude to as being a Council member’s IP address is completely unrelated to the Council member, but has everything to do with what internet they were connected to when posting.

    As someone who doesn’t live in John’s Creek, I find this drama entertaining!

    1. Visit Bing.com, and type in IP Address. You will see the IP address from your comment. Post from where you are again tomorrow, and the address is not going to change(if you are at the same location).

  2. Thank you for the enlightenment JCP editor. It’s no surprise if in deed a JC councilman was trolling the JCP and making comments anonymously to make himself look good. Classic!

  3. I think Lenny should explain to the council how one can actually spoof to a specific IP address. This would be quite educational.

  4. As a network professional, you really need a better grasp on how IP’s work. For IP V4, which appears to be what you are discussing here, almost all companies use what’s called “NAT”. One public IP address that’s shared amongst 10K users who then have a private IP behind it. That Public can switch out several times throughout the day, or not. If you pay extra for a Static IP, like most businesses, then the IP won’t ever change. Comcast tends to give out an IP, and it never changes, until you reboot you router. I use Tmobile for my cell phone, and though some various games I play, I know people from 7 other states that show up with the same IP as me. My wife for instance also uses Tmobile, and 9 out of 10 times, shows the same public IP address.

    Not saying in this instance that it’s not who you say it is, or someone in their household. We have all seen and heard instances lately where spouses are trolling for their husbands, with or without their knowledge.Just saying, IP only tells a part of the story.

    1. As an experiment, I rebooted my router and my IP address remains the same. It has been the same for years.

      But for the sake of argument, what are the odds of one IP address randomly assigned being used for posting comments over a 15 month period would be assigned to 1 person twice, and three other names, all commenting on similar subject matter at one web site like the Johns Creek Post? Oh, and the legitimate name? They would have been assigned the same IP address 15 months apart? Does that sound random?

  5. Wow! This is really fascinating stuff. Considering the outcome of the election in 2016, much of this would never have happened. Let’s say, for example, if Hillary had won. Just saying.

    I try to focus on the fact that no one has done one thing from the city council to stop the cutting of trees at the discrimination of the owner. We need an immediate moratorium on all current and upcoming construction requests. A moratorium makes so much sense.

    You have refused to listen to my words. City Council of Johns Creek, “I am Johns Creek” or at least that’s what the You Tube video says. Listen, I’ve lived here way before we were Johns Creek and I imagine I’ll be here long after the city council has changed dramatically.

    Mayor Bodker, you said you will not seek reelection. This is the perfect chance for you to make a great showing before you leave. Moratorium. It’s not a hard concept. There is no logical reason not to have a moratorium. Please.

    Momma nature

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