you're reading...

I Troll, You Troll, We All Troll Daily: The Problem With Trolling

The Hammill Post

Whether in a bad mood or under a ton of stress, several people, including you, have unintentionally trolled unknowingly by posting impulsively or without editing.  This comes from a lack of social sensitivity, since some individuals are not mature enough to receive disagreement.  So, engaging in a recurring behavior that he or she does not distinguish as trolling starts to be problematic…


Intent” is often associated with the anti-social behavior of trolling.  Trolls only want to disrupt an online community.  Under a false pseudonym, certain trolls are disguised as individuals who act sympathetic to the topic of discussion, but are actually attempting to spark arguments among the believers in the message board.

Here are some practices trolls use to achieve his or her intentions:

  • Bullying & harassment
  • Emotional rants
  • Challenging other’s motives
  • Posting inaccurate “facts”

There are two types of trolls: intentional trolls and unintentional trolls.  Though possessing different motives, intentional trolls purposely disrupt Internet forums, while unintentional trolls do it without knowing, both end in the same result.


A Troll’s Motivations

While some people are motivated by political or financial gain, others concentrate on defaming individuals or ruin online memorials, but all intentional trolls brag for the lulz.


Claire Hardaker, Lancaster University graduate who earned her MA in Language Studies and her PhD in Linguistics, concluded in her thesis Trolling in Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Communication that for his or her own personal pleasure a troll’s objectives are to cause a disturbance and to initiate or aggravate conflict.  Specifically, she states,

Motivations seem to be as varied as the individuals who are found to troll – they can be trivial, for example, boredom, psychological, e.g. emotional/social issues, political, e.g. the right of [perceived] wrongs, personal, e.g. grudges against exes…


So, holding some sort of persistent feeling of resentment stemming from a past incident has a role in what motivates trolls.

Dr. Phil, a psychologist with his own American television program, claims individuals only participate in repeated behavior if it pays off for him or her.

Here are some ways trolling pays-off for people:

  • Power
  • Attention & recognition
  • Expressing emotional release
  • Immaturity





Targeting members who post naïve questions, trolls commit a virtual act parallel to physical assault, cyber bullying.  Still, most of the time trolling goes unpunished.  However, there are a few countries that have enacted laws against trolling.  In the United Kingdom, under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, it is a crime to send offensive, indecent, explicit or threatening messages.  As a result, if an individual is found guilty, he or she can be sentenced to time in jail.  While in the United States, though the 1st Amendment rights make prosecution for troll speech infrequent, all 50 states passed laws against cyberharassment, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking.



Twitter: Jofi Joseph

Posting indecent and spiteful messages on Twitter, White House national security aide Jofi Joseph was fired from his position as director in the non-proliferation section of the National Security at the White House.

It took the White House around three months to trace the tweets back to Joseph, who was using the handle name @natsecwonk to anonymously taunt senior administration officials, mock Democrat and Republican politicians, criticize policies he was help developing, and disclose internal government information.


Tweet 1 Tweet 2


Trolling is considered a side effect of online anonymity, since many virtual hangouts do not require individuals to use his or her real name.


Rider University’s cyber-psychologist John Suler claims,

People can’t see you.  You can’t see them.  You can’t see if people are cringing or looking uncomfortable, and so trolls continue to say things they would never say in a room full of people.


This is known as the disinhibition effect.  Precisely, due to a lack of inhibition resulting from anonymity, cyberspace prevents face-to-face cues individuals rely on to determine what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.  In other words, hiding behind anonymity, intentional trolls write comments he or she would not normally consider posting online if not anonymous.

Several people dispute over whether or not anonymity should be eliminated on the Internet.  On the other hand, removing anonymity causes its benefits to overshadow the damages done by the trolls.  Specifically, accessible to any individual, corporation, or government at any point in time, forever, people do not wish to have his or her real name on every single comment they post.  Thus, destroying an individual’s privacy is not the answer to prevent trolling.



Putting An End To Trolls

Attempting to eliminate trolls by preventing comments to be posted within a message board inhibits the growth of an online community.

As an online place for exchanging ideas, a forum is seen as a means for individuals to meet his or her personal desires.  Forum participants are permitted to make a formal complaint about trolls to a website’s board administrators, allowing the admins to notify trolls or decline their user IDs by using an IP address.  Particularly, IP addresses help detect intentional trolls who comment under multiple virtual identities or create new IDs once his or her original username has been deactivated.

Another time consuming, yet effective method of stopping trolls, pre-moderate, involves a moderator to approve comments before being posted.  Therefore, improving on postings delays, the post-moderating system reduces the time wait by briefly posting all comments, including inappropriate ones, until a moderator looks over them.


How To Deal With YouTube Trolls


Many programs are better at avoiding spam than at monitoring trolls, since effectiveness depends on the personal expertise and diligence of a forum’s administrators as opposed to the trolls.



As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has become an effective weapon against trolling.  With more than 500 million active members, Facebook demands individuals to use his or her real name, in which everyone complies willingly since they do not want to deal with fake friends.  According to the firm’s founder Mark Zuckerberg,

Having more than one identity is an example of a lack of integrity.

(The Economist Newspaper Limited)


In order to increase members’ credibility on other websites besides Facebook, Zuckerberg aimed to make this policy on a firm’s comment service widespread.  In his first attempt to do so he failed, but once launching an updated version on March 1, 2011 more than 17,000 websites were using it successfully.  For that reason, Facebook’s comment service gave way to the rise in the quality of comments, rather than the quantity of comments posted.

Yet, Internet traditionalists complain that the new service causes anonymity to be abolished.  Without anonymity it is challenging to organize protests on social networks and self-censorship becomes an issue, but most of all comment services give up the community of users, its most valuable asset.

(The Economist Newspaper Limited)


In conclusion, by enabling a small subgroup of people to acquire the power to harm a website’s usefulness for every biddable participant, trolling has become a major issue on the Internet, in which unintentional trolling has been rarely acknowledged and overlooked as part of the problem.  It is evident that trolling is not going away anytime soon, but there are several techniques to moderate trolling and its impact online.




No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: