Twitter Troll(ing)

Twitter Troll(ing)
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The microblogging site Twitter which has millions of subscribers and users is in the process of tightening its rules and processes to prevent abuse, among other things. This move probably comes in the wake of indignation against alleged Russian interference in the United States controversial presidential elections. In a way, this step and measure is welcome but fundamentally and essentially, the nature of the measures leaves unaddressed what has actually become a bane and curse of the virtual world, especially twitter, that is, trolling. The phenomenon and the person who indulges in trolling is called a troll who is defined “as a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll). Trolling amounts to online and virtual harassment. It can, at times, lead to very insalubrious consequences for its victims. These include depression, an angry state of mind and, in extreme conditions, even suicide. It, unfortunately, has political uses. Say, a writer or a journalist, or even a politician writes and puts something of a political nature in the public domain. His or her opponents can troll him or her to such an extent that the person in contention is silenced. The phenomenon can also be slanderous damaging the reputation of a person, sometimes forever. In either case, one bedrock assumption of social media, freedom of speech, is effectively compromised. There is also a perverse effect of the freedom of speech effect or assumption. The nature of this effect lies in the fact that overt and subtle forms of abuse and even threats can be passed off as “free speech” on social media like twitter. (It may be pointed out here that twitter or its abuse thrives on anonymity). Given the inherent potential and actuality of abuse of this medium, the measures that twitter has taken are not enough. Twitter and its promoters must devise measures that actually puts a check on or even curbs the menace of abuse and trolling. For instance, a person who is found to be indulging in abuse and threats must get automatically kicked out and his or her account suspended with a red flag. Other similar measures can be taken to give short shrift to the abuse of twitter and allied social media. If action is taken the sooner, it would be for the better.

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