Reading10: New Kid in Town

Trolls are those who attempt to sow chaos throughout the internet. They are not in the majority of internet users but they are extremely vocal. Trolls are similar to hecklers. In both cases an individual or small group of people are able to hide within a larger group providing them with a sense of anonymity. These people then will put out often hurtful messages in an attempt to cause other problems. The anonymity is the big issues in both cases, but it is often heightened on the internet. On sites such as reddit, twitter and similar sites, users are provided a level of anonymity. The user is able to choose their own name and then simply change accounts at will with any connection between the two very small. This anonymity allows people to have a seperation from those they are causing chaos for. It is much easier to be hurtful when there is something in between the person doing the hurting and those being hurt. This relates to cyber bullying. Where compared to traditional bullying, cyber bullying can be totally anonymous and always has physical distance between the bully and the victim. The screen makes the messages being sent or the pictures being shared separate from the person being attacked. There is also no immediate visible effect with cyber bullying. While many people may be put off from bullying face to face, because then they have to witness the victims distress, when a screen is between the two parties, that same emotional connection is lacking. The position of companies in these situations is often difficult to understand. While they should try and create as open and safe a space online as possible, it is difficult to monitor all aspects at once, and even then there are privacy concerns. I think companies should attempt to stop all cyber bullying that could cause people, however that is simply not possible, because to do so is to attempt to limit the freedom that the internet represents and even if it was totally safe, people would likely not use it because it would lack this freedom of expression. The best companies can do is to flag any extremely bombastic statements and if a user has a history of this hand out bans on a case by case basis.


Gamergate is an example of the minority being extremely loud. In this case the small group should probably have been more closely monitored so that they could not gather to propagate the hate as much. Gamergate also is an example of the problems with anonymity. Gamergate is a closed bottle ecosystem like mentioned in the article by Kyle Wagner. With the combination of anonymity and the ability to connect to people with similarly extreme views from far away while not having to talk to others, the problem just got worse. Cyberbullying is a problem, but one that doesn’t have an easy solution. The internet is a great place but if we are to properly protect children from harassment we would have to severely restrict their access to the internet and strictly monitor it, while this is probably a good idea for children of a certain age, the question is when should this restriction be released. Trolls are a systemic problem that will never be able to be completely eliminated like hecklers, the best method of dealing with trolls is to simply ignore them, or report them if the message is to extreme. I think real name services make sense, but are will be very hard to implement, while it would create more of responsibility among people, it would not be able to be enforced, most people would want to be able to customize their profile to better represent themselves, and by remaining anonymous and choosing a name we are more able to do this. I personally do not use any real name web sites. I don’t use them simply because I don’t feel the need to. Online discussion is great because it allows people to create more real discussion amongst themselves and others from around the world.