Trolling has previously been described as intentional, but with the intention of being humorous or witty. The term has now come to describe intentional and ill-spirited mockery, shaming, and provocation.
“Troll farms'' are a fairly recent phenomenon, that utilize both human engagement and algorithms to actively influence opinion- and decision-making by distorting online discussions and narratives. While troll farms may not directly spread misinformation and fake news, they do plant the seeds of mistrust and division. Given the importance of the internet for our everyday lives, trolls can critically impact societal and political processes, such as the election process.
For some who have been targeted with online violence, instead of moving away from online participation, they chose to respond with more speech and more engagement. Speaking openly about an experience of online abuse (in addition to utilizing institutional or alternative mechanisms of protection), can be helpful for several reasons. Naming and shaming your abuser and exposing them to public scrutiny can also be a mechanism of protection, helping you regain a sense of control and empowerment in helping others in similar experiences, and raises public awareness about digital violence. As the broader public learns the extent and scope of online abuse, they will recognize its negative effects on society and, hopefully, demand a response from State officials. If you chose this path, try to focus on sharing your experience and the personal and community impacts of an assault.
One well-known female journalist established communication with her troll over social media, in order to eventually try and meet them. She later made a series of stories out of these conversations - a creative and courageous way to counter harassment. Here are some useful tips on how to talk to your trolls, if you decide to take this path.
It is not impossible to identify the person behind online abuse. Keeping regular track of abuse also helps in documenting the digital traces left behind by the perpetrators. Using these clues, and with the help of friends, digital security experts, investigative journalists and a little bit of luck, it may be possible to identify individuals or groups responsible for abuse. Take a look at this great example from Latin America’s Center for investigative journalism - when collaboration resulted in the discovery that a group of politicians were responsible for online assaults across the continent.Tactic Media Pressure Public shaming Innovative strategy Provocation