We all know about trolls and I think this sums them up perfectly:
Urban dictionary definition of trolling:
Being a prick on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.Guy: “I just found the coolest ninja pencil in existence.”
Other Guy: “I just found the most retarded thread in existence.”
But when does trolling become something more sinister?
On Facebook today someone shared a post and photograph declaring this person was a paedophile and that the public needed to be warned – it would be on the ‘London evening news’. I have two problems with this:
1. We’ve all heard of incidents of erroneous vigilante justice and frankly any vigilante justice is an error in my mind and posts like these encourage that. There’s a reason there are legal processes to follow…
2. How reliable is the source? Is this a malicious post?
That second one was fairly easy to start looking in to as the person who shared the original picture hadn’t set their privacy settings: I was able to view their Facebook page which was littered with threatening abusive comments/foul language towards various individuals (and several pictures of their scantily clad rear).
I was also able to view the Facebook page of the alleged paedophile; where the photo had clearly been lifted from and the content was reasonable. Putting 2 and 2 together, it looked like the accuser had an axe to grind.
So what did I do with this information? Confront the accuser? Message the accused to give them a ‘heads up’? In the end I reported a number of abusive posts to Facebook and hope I can rely on them to take the necessary action.
I was a little concerned I might be embroiling myself in a conflict I could ignore… But ultimately isn’t the responsibility with us as users and part of the online community, to share responsibly and act when we think people cross a line?