Friday, October 17, 2014

Trolling on Social Media Networks

When I was child I thought a troll was an ugly little figure who lived under a bridge waiting to threaten The Three Billy Goats Gruff as in the fairy tale of the same name.

Nowadays though, there's a very different kind of troll who waits online to goad people.  We've seen it this week once again when Judy Finnegan made some comments regarding rape on the ITV show, Loose Women.  Whether people agree or disagree with Judy's comments [after which she apologised for], it does not give people licence to verbally abuse Judy and her daughter, Chloe Madeley, via Twitter, Facebook or any other media network for that matter.

Yesterday, there was an article published in the newspapers where Richard Madeley, Judy's husband and Chloe's father, hit back at the trolls threatening Chloe with rape.  He promised they would be tracked down and the inference was that prosecution lay ahead:

I've seen evidence of trolls myself on Facebook.  This was partly to do with my decision to leave that particular social media network.  It was almost as though there were people there waiting to find a chink in a discussion to jump in and upset others.

I set up a local group on Facebook which was popular and had almost 1500 members.  It was well controlled with administrators to monitor things if they got out of hand.  But one day someone I didn't know from my home town joined, he claimed to be writing a novel and an editor [which I have found evidence for.]  Yet, that person tried his best in one discussion to upset as many people as possible with his comments.  I think he viewed himself as a 'Keyboard Warrior'.  He was picking on the wrong group as our group was full of fun and light hearted.  For some reason, most of his comments were aimed at me.  He asked to see evidence I was published.  I showed him links to the books I'd had published. After that he kept on and on. 

I think looking back on it, he might have been jealous to see I've had a few books published, whereas he'd been working on the same novel for years and was unpublished.

Finally, an admin decision was made to remove him from the group, not just because he was verbally attacking me, but upsetting others. 

I later Googled his name and saw evidence at various writing forums where he was winding other people up too.

It makes you wonder where these people get the time to deliberately look for people to wind up.  Are their lives so boring and pathetic that they have to goad others?

It's almost as though the trolls are too cowardly to say these dreadful things in real life so hide behind their computer screens where they probably think they sound brave but in reality they're the opposite.  A lot of people don't even realise there is a Malicious Communication Act which can end up with the person who is harassing others ending up in prison:

Unlike a verbal harassment where it might only be someone's word against the accused [if there are no witnesses], whatever is written in an email or on a Twitter/Facebook account is there for all to see, and even if deleted can be retrieved.

Bad news for trolls but good news for your average Billy Goat Gruff!


Teresa Ashby said...

Trolls seem to thrive on attention - but they get in your face and are very hard to ignore. Rather like the fairy tale trolls living under bridges. Perhaps the Malicious Communications Act is a sort of Great Big Billy Goat Gruff! x

Lynette said...

Too right, Teresa! I think the best thing to do is not respond if possible and block them. Every time I've responded things have got worse. I've found Facebook the biggest problem, I've never experienced it with Twitter, though of course celebrities do.

I remember reading about a boxer who was trolled on Twitter and he managed to track the troll down, who was petrified when he discovered the boxer was outside his front door. He ended up apologising on national TV!