There has been another wave of online discussion about ‘trolling’ on social media platforms like Twitter. The latest round of debate began after Caroline Criado-Perez wrote about the hideous abuse she received during the course of her campaign to keep a woman on the £10 note.
I have contributed a few comments in the past on this issue, and do not have anything new to say on the current controversy, save to say that at some point (it may be now, it may be later) the politicians will seek to impose legislation on this kind of speech. I mentioned this conundrum during my #ORGcon panel discussion with David Allen Green et al in June.
In the meantime, a few quick links:
- Look at how quickly trolls retract when they realise the real-world implications of what they have written. And I have linked before to a fascinating article by Leo Traynor on what happened when he tracked down a troll… (or rather, someone who was posting racist death threats).
- An article by Mic Wright at the Daily Telegraph and this post by Flashboy are both keepers on the impracticalities of censoring or policing a social network like Twitter.
- The Twitter feeds of Laurie Penny and David Allen Green (New Statesman columnists, the pair) tend to say pertinent things about online discourse in general, and the issue of trolling in particular.
Twitter sometimes combines the Two Minute Hate and Lord of the Flies in a way neither Orwell nor Golding would have been surprised at.
— Law and Policy (@davidallengreen) December 9, 2012
I worry that this will become the norm: Man says nasty thing on the internet, nice people get upset by nasty thing, nice people demand something be done about nasty thing, police pursue easy conviction (all the evidence is online after all, and there are a million willing witnesses), nasty man gets convicted, and everybody slaps each other on the back for having done their bit. The thrill of active netizenship.
This could end up corrosive: increasingly narrowing the online social sphere so it is eventually only available to the articulate and right-thinking, and fools will suffer real-world punishment.
And here’s Charlie Brooker writing about how most online discourse is just hot air, and he wants to produce less of it. His 2011 article about the online harrassment of Rebecca Black (singer of the awful ‘Friday’) is relevant to the current furore, and worth another read.
Finally, I enjoyed Musa Okwonga’s poem ‘Invisible Men‘.
Which reminds me of this quip of mine from earlier this year:
— robertsharp59 (@robertsharp59) May 24, 2013