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Trolling and The Rise of the Internet Trolls

Updated on March 29, 2012
An internet troll ready to heap abuse on anyone or anything for no reason whatsoever!
An internet troll ready to heap abuse on anyone or anything for no reason whatsoever! | Source

The title of this hub sounds like a science fiction movie. I wish it was. Unfortunately, internet trolling is an issue that is causing problems for many people.

What is trolling?

Trolling is the termed used for nasty and abusive comments left usually anonymously on the internet. Click onto any news item on any website, and you're sure to find comments left by people who use the plarform to vent their vitriol, because they can do so anonymously. Often, trolling can turn into cyberbullying which has become a very real problem. Usually, otherwise nice people use language they'd never use face-to-face with other people in 'real life'. Perhaps this cover provided by the internet has the effect of making it seem less real and harmful than it really is, or perhaps these individuals don't care. Whatever the case, this is trolling and it is pretty cowardly.

According to the National Crime Prevention Center over 40% of all teenagers with Internet access have reported being bullied online during the past year.

Who are the internet trolls?

Perhaps all of us at some point have jumped at the opportunity of expressing anger in a way we wouldn't in 'real' life. However, the problem is that some people take it to an extreme, such as this article relates (takes you to the BBC News website), where the BBC presenter Richard Bacon has had to deal with a torrent of abuse that has included abuse focused at his own family members. When small scale trolling turns into cyberbullying, it's clear that internet trolling is a real and probably growing problem.

The Law Courts

Readers will probably be aware of more and more cases being taken to court, where someone has said something particularly offensive or dangerous. Often, the punishments handed out to internet trolls can seem out of proportion with their crime.

In some cases, it's just one moment of madness – or drunkenness - that can lead to a jail sentence (BBC News link). In this recent story, Liam Stacey, a 21 year old, was jailed for 56 days in the UK for racially abusive language left on Twitter following the collapse of a footballer. Likewise, harsh sentences were handed out to people who used Facebook to incite violence during the British riots last year (2011).

Overall, it looks like the law is being specifically tough on people who use the cover of the internet to seemingly incite hatred or violence even in cases where it was never meant to be taken as such. A message is clearly being sent out.

Getting to Grips with A New and Powerful Social Medium

This tough approach to using the internet to voice certain socially disruptive opinions isn't surprising. The internet is a hugely powerful platform and ideas can have wide repercussions. Some critics of harsh sentences tend to say that punishing people over an opinion aired over the internet is contrary to freedom of speech.

But consider this: If someone were to stand up on a box on a sidewalk and start spouting vitriol and inciting violence and social unrest, they'd quickly be taken away by the police. This is no different to using the internet as a platform even if it doesn't seem like it. And that is danger of the internet. In fact, as a platform the internet is far worse than just a box on a sidewalk. Someone's voice isn't just heard across one block but potentially across the whole world.

Like everythin in life, new things take time to settle down. Human nature tends to exploit and bend the rules as much as possible when offered a new social or economic medium. The internet is no exception. It will take some time for people to become properly educated over correct internet use, and perhaps the law courts have been instructed to play their part in that respect. Pleading ignorance doesn't work as an excuse.

Certainly, younger people today don't seem to understand the consequences of what they do online. Many are getting into real problems being too vocal on Facebook for example, with minimal security settings in place. Future employers are known to have a look at a prospective candidate's online presence, only to discover aspects of a person's personality which should have been aired only at home or in a private diary. Unfortunately, it also shows an employer that a potential employee has an somewhat unintelligent approach to managing their online presence, which is criticial in this day and age.

Managing Your Online Presence

The real issue behind trolling probably comes down to little understanding about how to manage one's online presence – and not comprehending sufficiently the far ranging effects of using social media sites to express views and opinions. Education in that respect is paramount and currently it looks like too little is being done to rectify the knowledge gap.


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    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 5 years ago from Wales, UK

      Now that is a possibility too

    • profile image

      JC 5 years ago

      Their prospective employer probably is an internet troll.

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 5 years ago from Wales, UK

      Er.... ok?

      This hub wasn't about cracking down on trolls. It's about high-lighting the issues - and also that managing one's online presence is an essential part of life today. People forget the fingerprint they leave online, and more and more people are failing to get certain jobs because their prospective employers have a good snoop around and sometimes don't like what they see.

    • profile image

      JC 5 years ago

      Go ahead and crack down on trolls. You only create more rebellion, hence more trolls.

      You will lose.

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 6 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thanks for interesting comment Mr.Happy, I too used to have immediate issue with bullies at my school. Out of a some sense of fairness or rightness I'd get in their face as soon as possible, but it seemed to be a good approach. That was definitely activity within inactivity :-). It's sad that some young people are driven to total despair over the issue.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Usually, otherwise nice people use language they'd never use face-to-face with other people in 'real life'. - I am inclined to say that it's all nothing (after reading your last article) ... Now to just play along, I will say that I am not sure if the people trolling on the net are actually nice people all around and they just turn into trolls when the computer gets turned on ... Maybe, who knows ...

      I am going to indulge all the way regarding the bullying subject. Why not let the ego have its way for a little while ...

      I am of the opinion that bullies can be calmed down with their own poison. I have jumped in between bullies and their targets many times. I started laying it down to bullies when one annoyed me a little too much in public school. I dealt with him in the staircase of the school while we were going from one class to another; there were no teachers around. He behaved after that and not only that he behaved but he became a good example for others to behave as well. Word goes around ...

      In highschool was the same ... I kept my eye out for bullies and whenever I saw one acting-up, I stood-up and got in his face. It's been quite the experience with bullies for me ... they are mostly all talk. It certainly bothers me that they try to pray on those who are perceived as weaker than them. That is basically what gets the nasty wolf out. Haha ... it's all good, I can play any game needed to be played.

      I think that people who are bullied most of the time have some issues with self-esteem. Therefore, I encourage people to build-up their self-esteem in order to withstand donkeys/bullies.

      Thanks for the article and the discussion. All the best!

    • Mattallica profile image

      Mattallica 6 years ago from Hollywood

      No problem :)

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 6 years ago from Wales, UK

      Mattallica, thanks for visit and comment!

    • Mattallica profile image

      Mattallica 6 years ago from Hollywood

      Wow great hub, thanks for informing the masses on this subject. Some of these trolls just take it way to far.

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 6 years ago from Wales, UK

      valleyforge84 thank you for commenting. It is a serious subject. What you mention is truly horrendous. I want to write more on the subject, not just in an introductory way and hope to do so soon.

    • valleyforge84 profile image

      valleyforge84 6 years ago

      Good hub. Wish it expanded on the consequences more of the young on the internet. A 12 year old girl who's mother is friends with my mother was found hanging in her closet. Many believe it was internet bullying. This is serious and is taking our children away and needs to be stopped. voted up.


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