Confronting a Troll

Troll, by Doug Wildman on Flick
Troll, by Doug Wildman on Flick

 

For once, I am ahead of the Internet curve.  This fantastic post by Leo Traynor is all over the Internets and the Twitters this morning… but yrstly was sharing it yesterday!  Does that make me some kind of opinion former?

In the blog, Traynor describes how he was bullied off Twitter by a persistent troll, and then lived in fear when he started getting offline threats too.  Eventually, he managed to track down the IP address of the troll, and found that his tormentor was the 17 year old son of a friend of his.

This is a useful piece of writing for two reasons.  First, it is an example of speech that I do not believe should be free, that it is legitimate to criminalise.  Traynor experienced sustained personal threats.  It is the very opposite of the ‘generic racism‘ and unspecified unpleasantness put out by Liam Stacey (who posted racist messages about Fabrice Muamba) and Azhar Ahmed (convicted for a Facebook rant).

I was also eager to share, because it speaks directly to an idle wish I made in an article for the Free Word website, earlier this year.  Discussing internet ‘trolls’, I suggested that an enterprising journalist might track down some of the people who do this, and find out what makes them tick. The answer in Leo Traynor’s case was the young man was bored, confused, and appeared to enjoy the feeling of power it gave him.

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