Will trolls be the fall of participatory culture online? While participation should be and often is encouraged in the online community, some participatory content is insulting and hateful.
Trolling has already had an effect on the participatory nature of the online community. Knowing that trolling is an issue, many sites have moderators, who monitor comments and content before they are allowed onto the website. A lot of other sites however are using a different and cheaper system which allows the comment to be uploaded and is only removed if it is “reported” by other uses or certain words in the comment are flagged within technology filter moderation tools. Sites such as Facebook and Youtube use this method.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding trolling. People have committed suicide in direct relation to trolling and abuse over social networks. After much debate about whether trolls should be named and blamed, there have been cases where trolls have been identified and even jailed.
Although people are now aware that trolls can be prosecuted, there still seems to be a vast amount of people who continue to troll online, some even stating that the jail time is nothing and they have the right to freedom of speech.
While it is possible to identify some trolls, a lot of people that are trolling feel safe because they are anonymous online.
So the question is: is there too much freedom online and should anonymity online stay an option?
The issue here is that freedom online allows discussions to broaden and different views and opinions to be expressed. Taking this away would be like taking a step back rather than moving forward. Participatory culture relies on the freedom that the online community provides and it has started some amazing revolutions such as ‘The Occupy Movement‘.
Stafford (2012) feels debate is an important part of online community. He fears that insulting comments might eventually shut down the online debate, therefore preventing the expansion of information and awareness of the issues.
Anonymity on the other hand involves privacy. A lot of people don’t wish to have their details available to others online. While forcing everyone online to provide their details would address the trolling issue, there is a high probability that it will result in other issue. These might include; identity theft, fraud and forms of stalking.
Due to the issues that might come with the solution to stopping trolls, if people wish to keep the current participatory culture they have online, trolling will be inevitable until a better solution is found.