Trolling: Should we do more?

One of the most exciting things growing up as a digital native in the mid 90s was the rush and adrenaline that the internet could provide you with, linking up information, crossing continents and making the global world smaller. With the onset of social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr and the like for every one good user there’s around 10 idiots (colloquially known as trolls).

How does one spot a troll? Wikipedia has this:

Usually it is very difficult to tell the difference between a troll and somebody who is simply an asshole or an idiot. It is important to note that a troll doesn’t always resort to insults. Some of them pretend to hold ideals that are unpopular on a particular website or forum.

For example, if one signs up for a forum that is predominately pro-choice and pretends to be pro-life and makes posts in favour of that position that alone could get the same result as just insulting everybody. The best way to spot a troll is to take into consideration how long its posts are. If its posts are short then more than likely you are dealing with a troll. A good troll also doesn’t show any signs of anger in their posts so it would be best to keep an eye out for that too.

On social networking sites it is much easier to spot trolls. The first way is to look at their profile: if the user has no picture of him/herself then it is most likely a troll. It’s also useful to take a look at how old the user’s account is. The newer the account is, the more likely it is that they are a troll. Also if this user has contacted you directly on your own page as opposed to a group you are a member of then take that as a tell-tale sign.

However the last month has seen some particularly vile trolling of celebrities. Two certain examples have been: Tom Daley on his Olympics performance and Gary Barlow about the death of his daughter. Jason Manford has written an excellent blog post about the trolling he experienced on his own facebook page and a reply on why he felt it was important for him to write the first post. I recommend both of these articles.

But should we do more to prevent trolls? Should companies like Twitter ban users from posting under anonymous or trolling profile accounts? Should every user auto-ignore these users? Or are they a part of the scenery that allows us to stroke our own values and sensibilities? Are trolls as important as good users so that digital natives can appreciate the good and the bad separating the wheat from the chaff?

What do you think? Drop a comment below:

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