Why have trolls emerged? What does their existence say about our culture as we watch, follow and “retweet”?
Trolls have emerged because online, social sanctions that humanity has relied on and developed for centuries, exist less. On the internet, there is a screen of anonymity, as well as less immediately visible consequences for your actions. Trolls themselves might not be the worst, but the way they present themselves online is. Their existence says that we feel freer to take on a persona online, to temporarily step into someone else, because there are no consequences ‘in the real world’. Additionally, trolls invoke ‘shock value’, and occasionally become popular because of their trolling. Which seems like a pretty negative part of our culture.
Milo Yiannopoulous, who was recently banned from Twitter after trolling SNL’s Leslie Jones, made the following statement about the role of trolls on the internet. “The space we’re making for others to be bolder in their speech is some of the most important work being done today. The trolls are the only people telling the truth.” Do you agree or disagree? Use one of the examples from the article in your answer for support.
I think that the space we are making for people to be bolder in their speech is some very important work. The most radical of ideas can only come when people can speak. However, there is a difference between a rape/death threat and saying something like, “Trans people also deserve rights”. It is the responsibility of the moderators of a service to police and sieve out which bold speeches are valid and which should be banned. Saying a that Leslie Jones is a “black dude” and telling your fans to go harass her, is certainly a bold type of speech, that can only be done in a space such as Twitter. But should that space be protected? No.
With freedom of speech being one of the bedrocks of our democratic republic, how do we a nation reconcile and police the borderline hate speech rants of some trolls with one’s right to freedom of speech? Use one of the examples from the article in your answer for support.
Free speech is the right to express any opinions without censorship from the government. First of all, hate speech is not protected under free speech, and the inability to use and access an internet service such as Twitter or YouTube is not a violation of this amendment, because Twitter and YouTube are not the government. I’m really glad that the article repeatedly refers to Twitter as a ‘service’ rather than a platform.
What is one of the counter-trolling strategies suggested in the article? Do you believe it is or can be affective?
One of the strategies as outlined in this article suggests sending messages of kindness to people who are being subjected to trolling. I don’t think that this is very efficient, because the human brain always picks out the things that went wrong or were bad about an experience (in order to avoid making those same ‘mistakes’ in the future). Another counter-trolling measure proposed by Emily May with her service Hollaback!, posts photos of men who harass women on the street in order to name and shame them, is a more effective strategy. I think that people who attend Nazi rallies should be photographed and the internet should publish their names, so that they can be avoided.