A teenage girl’s profiles on social networking sites reveal the vile messages from internet trolls that friends say pushed her to kill herself.
Jessica Laney, 16, was found dead at her home in Hudson, Florida, on Sunday night after users on social networking sites branded her ‘fat’, a ‘slut’, and tormented her over her looks and love life.
Messages on the teen’s profile on Ask.fm – where people can post questions anonymously on a user’s page – show the constant abuse that friends claim pushed Jessica over the edge.
One user asks Jessica, ‘Can you kill yourself already?’ while another comments: ‘Nobody even cares about you.’
Her friends are now demanding the site is taken down, claiming the bullying led to Jessica’s suicide.
‘My friend Jessica Laney took her life,’ friend Valeria Canales told ABC. ‘She was constantly bullied and bullied. And she was pushed and pushed to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore.
‘Ask.fm is a website where people can ask anonymous questions to anyone they want. And that’s how Jessica was constantly put down and bullied… It needs to be shut down.
‘She was a beautiful girl & everyone loved her. She’s gonna be missed. We must put an end to bullying. Please help.’
However, officials at Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said neither Jessica’s parents nor boyfriend were aware of any bullying and said no formal complaint had ever been made to the school district.
‘We don’t even know if a crime occurred. It could have been nasty words that were said, that led this young girl to take the actions that she did.’
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With the advancement of technology leading to cheap smartphones and the internet, everyone is slowing owning a smartphone and thus diving deep into social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Quora, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google.
This exploded social media participation is leading to another psychological pandemic called Social Media Trolling.
Now, without wasting any more time, let’s dive deep into the topic…
How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?
New Delhi: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Saturday shared a photo of him watching the Ramayan on television but soon deleted his tweet and posted a new one that showed him working amid mounting criticism.
At 9:41 am, Mr Javadekar, the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, posted a photo of himself watching the Ramayan on DD National.
But faced with an overwhelming stream of criticism stemming from the government’s abrupt announcement of the lockdown that has left millions stranded and triggered panic about access to food and necessities, he deleted the post.
But the follow-up tweet by Mr Javadekar, who also happens to oversee the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Ministry for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, also angered many.
To stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 disease, the government has banned all activities except essential ones and asked people to stay at home to observe social distancing.
With all public transport stopped, many left without food, shelter, and income have been forced to undertake journeys for hundreds of kilometres on foot.
While the government has announced relief measures, it is yet to reach hundreds of thousands who are worst affected.
Trolling is defined as creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community.
Basically, a social media troll is someone who purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users.
To put it most simply and directly, when a member of the online community purposely tries to attack, disrupt, or offend within the community by posting offensive comments, photos, videos, GIFs, or any other form of online content, it is called Social Media Trolling.
The English noun “troll” in the standard sense of ugly dwarf or giant dates to 1610 and comes from the Old Norse word “troll” meaning giant or demon.
The word evokes the trolls of Scandinavian folklore and children’s tales: antisocial, quarrelsome, and slow-witted creatures which make life difficult for travellers.
One can find online trolling all over the internet, such as in the comment section of YouTube videos, Emails, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, blog comment sections, or any other open forums where people can freely express their opinions visible to the whole online community.
Trolls are the people who deliberately provoke others online, by saying inflammatory and offensive things.
They live to make people upset and angry.
They rant, post-death threats, spew hate speech. They attack an opponent’s character. And say things to appeal to people’s feelings (rather than their intellect).
They’re foes— not friends—of your business. Clearly.
Don’t mix trolls up with angry customers.
The internet is filled with people stating their opinions. Including upset folk wanting to share their negative, but sincere, beliefs.
All of us have experienced trolling in one form or the other on the various groups we might have joined on WhatsApp or Facebook.
Wait … in order to answer this question, we need to answer fifteen relevant questions first:
1. What is the background of these trollers? Qualifications? Social status? Bank balance? God knows!
2. Are they the experts on the issue, on account of which they troll a person? No!
3. Do they understand the context of the situation? No!
4. Do they personally know the person they troll? Have they met the victim in person? No!
5. Who all are responsible for that situation and the circumstances that follow? No clue!
6. What will be the impact of their trolling on social media? They are least bothered!
7. What will they gain out of trolling? Nothing!
8. What will the social media communities gain by their trolling (or opinions)? Nothing!
9. In case the person being trolled takes an extreme step such as self-injury or, in an extreme case, suicide, who will be responsible for the consequences? No idea! (There have been incidents of self-harm and suicide because of trolling in the past.)
10. Is there any procedure laid down to deal with the extreme consequences of trolling? No!
11. Who will be responsible to look after the victim’s loved ones post the accident? No one!
12. Is there any way that parents of teens can check if their kids are being the victims of online trolling? No!
Before jumping into the million-dollar description of these idiots, we need to first understand some other contextual circumstances that help trolls to flourish online.
Most people consider the internet as a platform that provides them with anonymity and uses it to victimise others.
It’s extremely easy to hide your identity on the internet and express your feelings without the fear of being caught.
Whether celebrities, politicians or regular citizens, online trolls target everyone equally.
Most of the Indian population now has smartphones, courtesy of cheaper handsets made available because of the aggressive global competition in the smartphone industry.
Xiaomi has revolutionized the Indian smartphone market by successfully reaching the obscure ends of all our suburbs, towns, and villages.
One might not even find proper electricity in some of these places, but smartphones will be ringing on top volumes in the households there still.
With Reliance Jio penetrating deep into the Indian telecommunications market since mid-2016, causing the rise of cut-throat competition in the telecom sector, any tom, dick or harry can now get a whole GB of mobile data every day for 84 days for only Rs.300!!!
Who can compete with that price?
This has directly resulted in anyone and everyone accessing the internet and create a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
More people, more are their opinions, and most of them are negative.
With 1 GB of data every day, a person can troll the entire world, every day!
So, with this situation, comes the problem of compromised online privacy, and the tricks to protect your online privacy. Online privacy can be very well protected using Virtual Private Network (VPN).
With cheap smartphones and mobile internet services, the life of a human being and all his social engagements have gotten sucked into the smart device in his hands.
As a result of this addiction to smartphones, human beings have invented several ways and means to stay connected on social media 24×7.
We have collectively crossed all limits of updating online about who is doing what, when, and where.
With increased mobile usage, comes the problem of smartphone Security which can be easily tracked by hackers, which has been elaborately covered in a separate article on smartphone security.
With the development of artificial intelligence, automation, and digitization, a lot of jobs previously handled by humans have been taken over by computers, AI, and automated machines.
For Example, Banking
Banks serve as the best example of this.
A major chunk of banking activities is now being done on the internet, thus eliminating the requirement of humans to do those various jobs.
Just by hovering your fingertip now over your mobile screen, you can successfully transfer any amount of money anytime, anywhere, and to whomever!
Cheap (Internet+Smartphones) + Unemployment + Frustration = Social Media Trolls
We should be able to relate now how cheap smartphones and internet services supplemented with unemployment give birth to Social Media Trolls.
Unemployment leads to frustration which seeks to be vented out somewhere. If a person physically tries to harass another person, bigger in size or more powerful, we don’t need to imagine the consequences.
So, the easiest way to vent out one’s frustration is by logging on to one’s social media accounts using cheap internet services, set a target, then ready, steady, and shoot! It is immaterial whether one has any clue about anything.
Competition. To survive the cut-throat competition and win the race of providing masala news 24×7, the reference point of news reporting has changed completely nowadays.
Instead of running around for actual news, reporters have developed a favourite strategy to just sit with a laptop or a smartphone, connect to very high-speed internet, and search for such online trolling happening around.
Insensitive Feeds. If they find even one such incident that might be spicy enough for their equally insensitive viewers, they turn it into a national headline, without ever thinking about the victim’s plight or consequences.
More than actual news that is worth the nation’s attention, media houses prefer to report ‘Who is trolling whom!’ This is very much observable in the case of Bollywood celebrities and politicians.
News Churning. No one is bothered about whether the reported troll is even worth reporting!
News factories need to keep running, no matter if the news being produced is good or trash; there is just no mercy at all. What could be the impact of giving such attention to a troll?
No one is bothered to find out!
Politics. During the Lok Sabha Elections of 2014, online trolling increased to a whole new level. Social media had successfully derived one equation.
Rahul Gandhi = Pappu. Now whether this equation is right or wrong, only God knows!
Image Filtering. With the many image-filter options available on social media platforms, one can apply just any number of changes to their pictures, posts, videos, etc.
Many a time, the absence (or even presence) of these filters over the pictures of a person can become a reliable source of entertainment for a troll.
Cut, Copy, and Paste. With the option of customized posts and pics freely available on the internet, we all feel extremely comfortable in copy-pasting already popular images and opinions on our social media accounts to gain likes, projecting as if we also feel the same way.
But do we practice living the same way as we project on our social media accounts?
The answer is no.
Now, if someone posts a true opinion about an issue, then such a soul finds himself flowing against the social media current, hence, inviting the trolling to start!
They often can’t spell
Trolls seem to suck at spelling and grammar. They…
Cornell and Stanford’s researchers did a study of anti-social behaviour online.
They’ll try to make you angry. Trolls exist for the sole purpose of upsetting people.
Got someone on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat stirring up trouble? By starting arguments or posting inflammatory content?
They’re (probably) a troll. Especially if they appear to be insincere in their comments, posts, or statements.
They exaggerate. A lot.
They use strong words like “never” and “every.”
Where most others would say “infrequently” and “some.”
Using extremes and superlatives are ways to inflame people.
And a good sign you have a troll to deal with.
They act entitled. Many trolls have an inflated sense of worth. They operate as if the world revolves around them (or that is should).
“Me, me, me… great, great, great. And all you others suck.” Or something like that.
If you get this sense, you’re probably infested with a detested troll.
They make it personal. Discussions, debates, arguments—all safe games for healthy talks among your online users.
Until it gets personal.
Which is what trolls do.
Rather than discuss a matter, reasonably and logically, trolls attack an opponent’s character. They’ll call people names and say things to appeal to feelings and prejudices, rather than intellect.
Trolls fail standard, readability metrics for the stuff they write. Including, using less positive words and more profanity.
fine that makes it WAAAY EEZIER to spot theez [email protected]%$%# digital SOCIOpaths!!! yaaaay happy daze!
As you can see, trolls give themselves away pretty easily.
Great. Now that you’ve confidently identified one… what do you do with them?
When a person logs onto their social media account and finds some unwanted comments regarding a picture, post, blog, profile, etc., depending upon the seriousness of the troll a sudden surge is experienced in the victim’s blood pressure. Panic kicks in.
The emotional shell of the victim cracks.
The victim starts creating an invisible defensive cover around him.
A thought process around the ways and means to counter that unwanted comment commences. Why? Due to that one unwanted comment that is visible to the whole world and every other troll who is sitting online in whichever part of the globe.
Therefore, the initial stress will slowly convert into a panic attack as the strength of the trolls increases.
This issue is truly relevant in the case of WhatsApp and Facebook groups.
A minor joke at the expense of one member in a group of 200 or more will never be taken in a light mood and may take an ugly turn.
People have even committed murders over Social Media Trolling.
Now, every troll is different. One just cannot predict the level to which any troll can stoop down to.
The last troll becomes the reference point for other trolls to starts from.
This becomes a basic time pass for every idiot online on any social media platform at that moment.
In the same manner, every victim is also different. One can never predict how a troll can affect a victim’s life.
Since a victim doesn’t know the exact identity of the troll, the level of panic just escalates.
We do not have a specific law that directly addresses this growing concern, but we do have a few sections in different laws such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Information Technology (Amendment) Act (IT Act) which make trolling a criminal act.
If any person takes your photograph, makes your videos, records and publishes your private pictures or sends them electronically to anyone without your consent, then you can take legal action against them.
Any violation of privacy is punishable by a prison term of three years.
Nowadays, we can see large amounts of improper and offensive content on the Internet which, no doubt, attracts a lot of attention.
If any person publishes any offensive sexual content on the internet, he or she can be jailed for up to seven years.
If any person tries to make physical contact or sexual advances with you, or demand for sexual favours from you, or shows pornography, or makes sexual comments about you, then you can take legal action against them by filing a complaint.
Posting sexually offensive comments against other people on social media and other platforms also makes a person liable for sexual harassment.
If any person intentionally uses any words, signs, or visible representations, or publishes anything only to harm your reputation, they can be punished for defamation.
Acts such as defaming a woman online, commenting on social media platforms, posting obscene remarks or images or videos are all covered under the offence of defamation.
If a person conceals his/her identity to threaten another, they can be jailed for up to two years.
This is very helpful and effective in dealing with online trolls.
If you are a woman and any personal insults or outrages your modesty, uses any word, makes any sound or gesture, or displays any object which can violate your privacy, then you can sue him.
Posting sexually offensive comments or pictures or videos on social media or other platforms are also covered under the offence of trolling.
If you are a woman and any person watches or captures an image of you when you are engaged in a private act, under circumstances where you would not expect anyone to watch you and if such person publishes those images, then you can take legal action against them.
Private acts may include a picture of the naked woman or a woman indulging in sexual acts.
If you are a woman and bothered by a man who follows you and contacts or attempts to contact you to make personal relations despite your lack of interest; or keeps an eye on your activities on the internet or any other form of electronic communication, then you can take action against them by filing a case under the IPC with the help of a lawyer.
With cut-throat competition in the tech market of India, it is only natural that smartphones and internet services will grow cheaper still. Automation will lead to more unemployment.
Therefore, there will be more frustration and a proportional increase in the strength of the army of the trolls!
Soon enough, survival on social media without trolling will become next to impossible.
There are some comments that — simply put — don’t merit a response.
When a comment is so far-fetched that any acknowledgement would only justify its craziness, the best response is none at all.
And when you ignore the comment, it’s a good indicator to your other readers that they should follow suit.
There is absolutely no requirement for you to invest any sort of emotion or time in thinking about the troll, as made clear in every relevant scenario mentioned above.
The troll, once ignored, will die its own death. Trolls are IRRELEVANT in your life.
Other comments might not have completely dived off the deep end, but they might be so far off-topic that it’s not worth your time to counter the argument or try to change the person’s mind.
In this scenario, you must stick to the actual topic at hand and point out where the commenter is straying from the actual argument.
When someone comments on your article with an argument that can be easily countered, it’s difficult to resist the urge to furiously type a rash response.
Instead, you should approach it like a debate.
Acknowledge the person’s side of the argument, clear up any miscommunications or misstatements, and then present your personal side of the argument.
Other readers will appreciate the time you took and will be less likely to revert to agreeing with the troll.
In case you are a sensitive person who panics over minor trolls, it is strongly recommended that you hit back the troll in whatever way most appropriate.
Just give a solid punch back.
Let it get murky.
Let the remaining trolls also learn the consequences of touching your soft side.
If the situation is not contained at once, be prepared for more trolling and things getting out of control in a phenomenal way.
Sometimes, a commenter who appears to be a troll at first glance turns out to be wise.
When someone makes a scathing comment about your opinion and — upon thinking it through — you realize she is right, let her know.
It doesn’t make you look less credible to show that you can think through things and refine your opinion.
Although we appreciate that this option is better said than done, we have seen many people live a very peaceful life, on account of Zero Presence on Social Media!
Follow this advice for once and see the 180 degrees turn in your own personal and family life.
The kids of such people are also generally not at all addicted to social media and live a happy and peaceful life like no one else.
Courtesy – YouTube
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Do you have more suggestions for us to include in this article, “How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?”?
Share your story with us in the comment section below…. we will be right there with you.
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