I understand why people do it, I never have, not because I couldn’t mind you but because I never felt the need to be like that. I am so far from that consciously that it makes me sad to think about those that do, even sadder still for those who receive it.
I have never been the victim of a troll, well unless you count the odd comments from someone in Nottingham but they were not trolling more inviting conversation. Plus I must know them in some form as they would only know the site has been updated by following me on twitter or my FB page.
He/she are harmless really when compared to the darker earthier side of the net. A place where YouTube comments always descend into sexual, racist and generally frightful abuse of the uploader or each other’s comments. A place where it’s ok to threaten to rape or kill someone because they took a stand on an issue or dared to put forward an opposing idea.
Since the early days of the internet people believed they were anonymous from each other. Sitting safely at a keyboard thinking the world couldn’t touch them for what they do. Of course they were totally wrong but that myth seems to carry on. Why else would people act in such a way to each other?
Ok, well yes of course they think being anonymous gives them the right to say what they feel deep down inside, the niceties of being human are taken away and replaced with bigotry and hatred. Yet, when they are arrested they want the media to think they are nothing like that.
They come out of the police station apologising for being drunk or getting carried away with the crowd. After the soldier Lee Rigby was murdered in London earlier this year, a total of 11 people were later arrested for making “racist or ant-religious” comments on social networking sites.
Recently Caroline Criado-Perez was subjected to a barrage of anger on twitter with threats to kill or rape her because she headed a campaign to get women on the British bank notes. From 2016 Elizabeth Fry (the only woman, apart from the Queen) would be replaced by Winston Churchill on the £5 note.
Criado-Perez successfully campaigned to have more women on bank notes especially considering that Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale are the only two women to appear on bank notes since 1970. The campaign resulted in Jane Austen replacing Charles Darwin from 2017 on the £10 note. A worthy cause soured by trolls.
There is not going to be an easy fix to get rid of the internet’s unwanted. More and more police time is going to be taken up on social networking sites hunting out those who feel it necessary to abuse people they don’t even know.
I know there has been pressure on Twitter by MP Stella Creasy for Twitter to put it’s house in order and prevent this type of hate speech. We should rely on the sites to put their houses in order. Why should they? They have a duty to be open and allow free speech and who says they should be given the power to act like the police.
Education is the only way forward, not just telling people it’s wrong, but making people aware that they can be found, and found rather easily by law enforcement. There also needs to be clearer guidance as to what malicious communications are and clearer penalties if these rules are broken.
We need to educate sociality that abuse will not be tolerated either online or in the real world. Homophobic, raciest or bigoted comments are not welcome and do not forward any debate or sociality. We don’t need a nanny state as Dave Cameron thinks, telling us how to behave online, we need healthy forum, like the online world where we can form opinion and we don’t need that stifled by trolls or governments.
PS: Just as I finished writing this Stella Creasy has informed police that she too has been received death and rape threats because she backed Caroline Criado-Perez and asked question of Twitter about how they plan to stop this kind of abuse.