Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trolling is Serious Buisiness

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According to Wikipedia, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.  

The term derives from "trolling", a style of fishing which involves trailing bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The troll posts a message, often in response to an honest question, that is intended to upset, disrupt or simply insult the group. (from

While there is a general argument that forwards the view that trolling is part of freedom of speech, but in other jurisdictions, it is considered a criminal offense. In the UK, Colm Coss and Sean Duffy, on different incidents, were sentenced for 18 weeks in jail for posting obscene messages on social networking sites dedicated as a memorial tribute.

One of the difficulties in regulating trolling is the difficulty in its classification. Where does one draw the line between free speech and criminal behavior? When does it stop of fun and turn into an abusive offense? Do we apply the Constitutional tests in each and every comment posted? Another issue is anonymity. Most of these trolls create numerous accounts and fake online identities to further their goals. The internet is a blanket where anyone can be whoever they want to be. How does one identify and charge a troll having over a gazillion accounts and online identities? Would such measures violate the right to ones privacy?  These are some of the many questions that need to be taken in consideration when drafting regulations regarding the matter.

Trolling is not entirely criminal or evil. Some in fact provide hilariousness in some otherwise boring topic. However, in the internet, a thin line does not exist separating the good from the evil. More of often than not, issues are often placed in various shades of gray until some form of determination arises from them. Whether or not regulations are needed for "trolling" activities, it is for the legislature and the policy makers to decide. Until then, the burden lies in the moderators and site administrators of forums and websites to exercise their godly-forum-site powers to control the menace. And for us, usual netizens, lurking around, it's pretty simple: Do. Not. Feed. The. Trolls.

Entry No. 13
Soleil Flores

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