A “troll”, in internet slang, is someone who deliberately upsets others by starting arguments or posting unnecessarily inflammatory messages online. In recent years, trolling has increased and forced online websites such as YouTube to develop ways for users to moderate their video’s comments section. Popular Science also followed suit and shut down its comments section entirely. Indeed, for trolls, the anonymity of the internet is the perfect playground. (Lewis, 2014)
The rise of the online community over the years has risen to new heights and the targeted audience has adapted to all ages and genders. Female’s online have increasingly been on the receiving end of sexist, abusive and violent threats. Take for example 23 year old student Jenny Haniver who regularly plays online multiplayer games where players have the ability to communicate via headsets. Haniver is regularly abused online by males for being a woman and has even received threats to rape or kill her and her family. (metrowebukmetro, 2012)
When a person is online they can be required to create a username. This username is normally a nickname and therefore places the person behind an online screen which hides their real name and identity. With this screen in place any actions online are not directly related back to the user so a sense of anonymous is created.
Karalee Evans states that “Trolling is not a new thing, it existed even in the days of MySpace and GeoCities. What seems to be on the rise, is compliance trolling and the phenomena of anonymous digital misogyny. When did faceless men decide it was acceptable to take it upon themselves and threaten women online with death threats, rape threats, violence and sexism?” (Evans, 2011)
Online trolling is essentially attempting to take away women’s voice in the online public sphere. Female journalists and gamers who are constantly faced with a barrage of sexual abuse and violent threats are becoming less reluctant to post their equal opinion online due to trolls. Anonymous trollers online need to be educated about their actions and the consequence which can result from trolling.
Evans, K. (2011), Men call me things: it’s not as romantic as it sounds, abc.net.au, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3659712.html, Accessed 15th May, 2014
Lewis, J. (2014), Internet trolls are also real-life trolls, The guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2014/feb/25/internet-trolls-are-also-real-life-trolls, Accessed 15th May, 2014
Metrowebukmetro, (2012), Under fire: Women who dare to play video games, metro.co.uk, http://metro.co.uk/2012/09/28/under-fire-women-who-dare-to-play-video-games-587905/, Accessed 15th May, 2014
Thorpe, V., Rogers, R. (2011), Women bloggers call for a stop to ‘hateful’ trolling by misogynist men, The guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling, Accessed 15th May, 2014