Trolling: Who does it and why?

An internet “troll” has been jailed for mocking dead teenagers on various websites. Public figures, including Stephen Fry and Miranda Hart, have also been victims of trolling. So what is it and why do people do it?

The word comes from a Norse monster but the troll is a very modern menace. For some it’s the internet equivalent of road rage, vandalising a grave, or kicking a man when he’s down.

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.

In its most extreme form it is a criminal offence. 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. more at BBC

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  • By Andrew Duffy, Postmedia News September 14, 2011

    An Ontario Superior Court judge has tossed out a defamation suit launched by an Ottawa blogger, Dr. Dawg, who claimed that an Internet chat room post damaged his reputation by calling him a Taliban supporter.

    Justice Peter Annis’s decision adds to the emerging body of law that governs the Internet’s unruly marketplace of ideas.

    It gives political bloggers new licence to slug it out online – and even employ the occasional low blow when the debate turns nasty.

    “If this decision stands it makes a Wild West saloon out of the blogosphere: It becomes a place where normal defamation law seems to be suspended,” said Ottawa’s John Baglow, a.k.a. Dr.Dawg. The retired bureaucrat and former executive with the Public Service Alliance of Canada vowed to appeal the decision.

    Annis ruled that Baglow was not defamed last year by a post that said he is “one of the Taliban’s more vocal supporters.”

    The statement was made on the Free Dominion website in the course of an acrimonious debate – taking place on three websites over several days – about federal politics and the legality of Canadian Omar Khadr’s military trial in the U.S.

    More at the link.

  • is not always the same as being a troll.

    Being a shite troll usually involves being an immature ass and nothing more, but c’mon now … let’s not give a bad name to the fine art of trolling because of a few bad apples. I mean, we still respect the office of the President, right?

    Ya know who the greatest troll of history was? Socrates (insert photoshop pic of Socrates representation with words, “They see me trollin’, they be hatin’.”)

    Sometimes a troll is sincere, like a conservative going onto a liberal blog and just arguing for the sake of pissing everyone in the thread off. Many times, a troll is just in it for the lulz. I truly enjoy taking the opposite position from people and just arguing. I’m happy to argue against something i actually agree with, especially if the person i’m arguing riles me for whatever reason. For example, i’d troll the shit out of Al Gore, not because i don’t agree with climate science but because i hate Al Gore.

    But fer realz, just harassing people is internet thuggery not trolling. imo.


  • they are all trolls in one sense or another. There are different levels of trolls depending on the level of disruption achieved. 🙂 However in the Brit cases it seems more about legislating good manners.

    “Easy is an adjective used to describe a woman who has the sexual morals of a man.” ~ anon 😀

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