I HATE BULLIES and I see internet trolls as bullies. So I hate internet trolls. But aside from Facebook, where I can keep them curbed by excluding them from my comment thread, I have little interaction on social media platforms on the internet. Consequently, I have little interaction with bullies and trolls on the internet.
Oh, I see them when I’m out and about reading articles and essays on other sites—whether news sites or opinion sites. I occasionally interact by leaving a comment that I hope is read as being full of witheringly dry irony. But I do know use those other social platforms, so I have not had to face the ugliest trolls in the world. 1
While I have picked up some knowledge along the way, I am unfamiliar with Reddit—except by reputation. It seems it’s a favorite haunt of particularly nasty, right-winged trolls. (I know: Is there any other kind of troll?)
For someone of my disposition to venture into Redditland would be like willing myself into a lifetime of exchanging hostilities with critters who seem to grow bigger as they absorb the hostilities surrounding them. So, I stay far from that region’s borders.
I found this great image accompanying “Confessions of a Former Internet Troll” by Matthew Saccaro. I had intended to use it as this article’s header image until I found Troll Hunter.
An experiment curbed hate speech
I found this article titled “Reddit tried an experiment to curb hate speech” by Eric March for UpWorthy (September 12, 2017). The subtitle is “In 2015, Reddit decided to run some of the haters out of town.” Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued. The following four paragraphs are a truncated and edited version of March’s article:
In 2015, Reddit, known for its wholesale embrace of free debate, banned several of its most notorious forums, including a hub for white supremacist jokes and propaganda, and a board on which users heaped abuse on fat people.
In 2015, Reddit banned a forum for white supremacist jokes and propaganda and a forum which heaped abuse on fat people.
Critics worried the ban would be ineffective. Wouldn’t the trolls just spew their hate elsewhere on the site? We now have evidence that the ban worked:
• Through the banning of subreddits which engaged in racism and fat-shaming, Reddit was able to reduce the prevalence of such behavior on the site. 2
• Those who migrated to other subreddits, became beholden to existing community norms that restricted their ability to speak hate freely. 3
March concludes his piece with what would seem to be common sense: “Any attempt to moderate an open web forum will inevitably have to balance protecting free expression with the right of people to exist on the internet without fear of abuse. For vulnerable people who, like most, are living increasingly online lives, it’s a small measure of relief.”
Finally, in case I forgot to mention it, I hate bullies.
FEATURED IMAGE: This photo is from the 2010 Norwegian movie Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter or Trollhunter). Mike Hale of The New York Times called it a “clever and engaging mock documentary,” but thought it too long. The special effects were “created with a computer-graphics budget that we can assume was far short of the Hollywood standard [but] are surprisingly lifelike and frightening.”
1 I know, I know: there’s little room on the Internet for irony and Poe’s Law and all, but every now and then I talk (deceive?) myself into believing that even my arch-enemies are smart enough to get the pointed humor and the irony.
2 Subreddits are subsidiary threads or categories within Reddit that allow users to focus on a specific interest or topic in posting content that gets voted up or down by relevance and user preference.
3 Reddit’s removal of copycat forums before they could reach critical mass was also cited as effective.