Aunty has an article about trolling up. it seems that the MSM doesn’t really understand the practice – or, indeed how to deal effectively with it.
Trolling is a phenomenon that has swept across websites in recent years. Online forums, Facebook pages and newspaper comment forms are bombarded with insults, provocations or threats. Supporters argue it’s about humour, mischief and freedom of speech. But for many the ferocity and personal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech.
Well, yes, those of us who have been frequenting blogs, fora or in the early days, usenet will be familiar with the problem.
Different administrators have differing approaches. Some will merely argue free speech, no censorship, and allow them to fester until, presumably they become bored and move on. I can see the point being made – after all, if you run a site that is all about liberty, is it not contradictory to then delete comments?
Well, no, actually.
The way I put it on our blog, is that the comments section is like our front porch. It faces the street. You may drop in and join the conversation. But you are on our property and if you cannot respect the basic rules of civility you will be asked to leave or if necessary compelled to leave. There is speech which invites a conversation or at least a response in kind, and there is “speech” which is nothing more than vandalism. We harm rather than help the cause of free speech if we pretend the latter should be given the same respect as the former.
It is not illiberal to have a policy that removes spiteful or insulting speech that does nothing to further the discussion. There is a difference between this and the cut-and-thrust of debate that becomes heated. So far on this site we have deleted very few comments and long may that continue. However, I have no compunction whatsoever in removing the kind of garbage that B&D or Obnoxio choose to tolerate. People masquerading as others to insult and generally abuse the hospitality of the site is not an exercise in liberty and it does not harm the cause of liberty to show such idiots the door. You would do so if they behaved as abominably in your own home. Blogs and fora are, after all, private property. “My gaff, my rules” applies.
So, all that said, what is the problem? After all, the delete button is a simple enough device to operate, is it not?
In its most extreme form it is a criminal offence.
You were there before me, weren’t you? Don’t deny it. Trolling is childish, puerile and obnoxious, but that it should be a criminal offence is a massive over reaction. It is, after all, just words on a virtual page. Words that can be expunged – remember that delete button you admin types?
On Tuesday Sean Duffy was jailed for 18 weeks after posting offensive messages and videos on tribute pages about young people who had died. One of those he targeted was 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde, who had been killed by a train. “I fell asleep on the track lolz” was one of the messages he left on a Facebook page set up by her family.
So, delete and ban. Simple. And Facebook has a privacy setting. Set it to invite only those you wish to see it, or is that too much to ask?
Trolling appears to be part of an international phenomenon that includes cyberbullying.
Y’know, if I wasn’t already in a state of despair at the cretin-like nature of many of my fellows, I would be hanging my head in my hands at this stage. Look, it is really, really simple. Set your Facebook page to let only those in whom you trust. If someone abuses it, delete and ban. Open sites such as this one are moderated, so again, delete and ban. If someone came here and behaved as the two recently gaoled felons were, I wouldn’t dream of calling in the police. I’m all grown up now and can manage the situation all by myself. I… wait for it… delete and ban. I’ve done it a couple of times over at my own place when people got out of hand. I will do it again should the need arise. So, repeat after me; delete and ban, delete and ban. There, it really isn’t that difficult is it? And plod can get on with the business of chasing real villains.
The First Amendment of the US Constitution protects free speech and makes it difficult to punish people who post offensive messages. But concern over internet vitriol is growing.
Yes? And? So?
Facebook’s former marketing director Randi Zuckerberg and Google head Eric Schmidt have both suggested anonymous posting should be phased out.
And there we have it, folks. Because some people are too weak willed to delete and ban or walk away from the computer, because they feel bullied (I can tell you what bullying, real bullying feels like and online insults ain’t it), we are supposed to sacrifice our identities. Never mind that many of us conceal our real identities so that we can speak more freely without it impacting on our offline lives, never mind that the vast majority of online discussion between anonymous and pseudonymous folk is civil and harmless, oh, no, some people feel bullied and can’t cope with it, so as is usual when there is a small problem (problem is overstating it, frankly) we all have to pay the price.
One of the difficulties is that trolling is a broad term, taking in everything from a cheeky provocation to violent threats. And why people do it continues to baffle the experts.
They aren’t very expert, then, are they? Trolling is very specific. A cheeky provocation is not trolling. Actually, neither is a violent threat – it is a violent threat. Trolling is clearly recognised and defined.
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
As the linked article points out, our wonderful MSM has redefined it to mean something rather different.
The usual advice applies of course, “don’t feed the trolls”. However, Dom Joly takes a different approach.
“There’s something about a bully that really annoys me,” he says. “They’ll say something online that they’d never dare to say to your face.”
True enough. Irritating, of course, but mostly harmless. So, don’t feed the troll. Simple, eh? Nope, clearly not.
“One guy tweeted from his work account that he hoped my kids die of cancer. I let the MD of the firm know and the guy was fired. I felt no guilt, he should have gone to prison.”
What an arsehole – no, not the troll. He doesn’t deserve to go to prison and he didn’t deserve to lose his job. Talk about over reaction. But, isn’t that where we came in? Thin skins all round, it would seem…
Some think regulation is needed…
No, it isn’t.