'Internet' is regarded as one of the most powerful sources of media that we have right now and also one of the best mediums using which information can be spread world wide. Freedom of expression has often landed many in trouble, especially if you are going loud horns against someone with esteemed position in the society. Well, these kinds of practices are very common in the virtual world of internet, which is why the term 'Internet Troll' may not be anonymous for many amongst us :). Those who have a very intimidating habit of posting controversial, offensive content on the internet are named as Internet Trolls. Unfortunately, troll activities are a hot topic of discussion among people on the internet, which is also the reason what made me write this blog, backed by a hefty research work.
Literally, 'Troll' can be defined as someone who posts defamatory messages or starts any off-topic discussions on online community such as discussion forums, blogs and chat rooms. Their main intention is to provoke visitor's response or start emotional discussions that are completely off-topic. Internet troll actually evolved at a slower pace compared to internet over the years and primarily, troll was used in reference to a person who was desperate for attention. With time trolling activities grew more aggressive in nature and, it may be the feeling of mere desperation all of a sudden that was converted into a necessity to hurt & irritate. Troll are common among social media communities on the internet, which is a very unfortunate fact. Primarily, the best means to deflect troll activities is to 'avoid' them, as trolls feed on attention and user response.
Things that exist have their own time-line and their own reason for existence, same is not the case with online trolls. As I mentioned earlier, Troll feed on attention and do not have any tangible reason for existence. Not all trolls can be termed as harmful or dangerous, especially those on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. 'Why do trolls exist?' or 'how come internet trolls initially came into existence?' is the question that has left me in grave jeopardy! But continuant research on the same topic has left me with a simple judgment that 'idleness' is the sole reason that has lead to the growth of troll activity. Internet offers a sense of anonymity to people, which is why posting defamatory messages and provocative statements makes things easier.
For instance, some find creating fake user accounts on Facebook and Twitter very interesting. These people start initiating responses from people by starting discussions on any controversial topics. It is because of timely response from other users on these discussion forums that further motivates these kind of internet trolls. Internet trolls are not specific to a single domain as in most of the cases, they harass individual internet community on a periodic basis. Their activities range from posting contradictory statements to giving confusing or provocative opinions on a given issue. A genuine internet blogger will present his or her opinion on a given situation with equal aggressiveness but a troll will always mislead a community and frustrate the members of the discussion forum.
Most of these trolls often target new bees on forums to get a rise in terms of discussions. A troll may even try to drive discussions on a forum with the assistance of a 'sock puppet' accounts. For those who are unaware of the term, let me tell you that a sock puppet is a fake identity used by a person who wishes to keep his or her identity anonymous to the world. If ignored, a troll can become totally harmless whereas a troll even possesses grave danger to users of your site when they start using abusive languages in form of hate speech and even start stalker like tactics to intimidate the users. As a site administrator you can either block the IP address used by the troll or simply report them to the authorities.
Dealing with Internet Trolls
As I mentioned earlier in the former part, the most effective way of managing or handling internet trolls is just to ignore them. Growth of internet trolls depend on your reaction against their posts or comments, which is why troll's constant effort are directed towards provoking a user. Therefore, the best way to deal with them is to ignore them or avoid paying attention to their posts and in extreme cases simply 'block' them. Not many of us acknowledge the fact that some trolls have temporary existence as they do not have any direct attacking intention on their because on the first part, they do not have any reason in doing that!
Political trolls are primarily the result of dissatisfaction on any political issue at large and a perfect example for the same can be the recent conviction of a man for posting anti-religious messages. The group known as 'Anonymous' are into anti-government activities because they feel highly provoked by the government's decision to ban file sharing sites. For simple troll activities, the perfect example can be of a stranger who didn't like your Profile Pic or a person who has a different point of view against your opinions.
If you wish to play a bit smart, which you feel you are then the best way to manage these trolls can be asking relevant questions and posting relevant response to their contradictory statements. If a troll is posting negative remarks about your Display pic then simply ask him the reason as of why he didn't like your pic! Make sure you do not sound offended by their remarks or feel provoked because that's what they want. Even if you feel provoked, its better you don't show it to them. Deploying moderators on your website or tracking down IP addresses of repeated offenders and blocking them will assist you to some extent in keeping your website clean from malicious activities.
Everything has a dark side, even internet does and troll activities covers a small spectrum of that dark side, which I was trying to unveil. Let's hope someday we have strict cyber laws to create a line of demarcation between a crime and simple hate activity. People who are indulged into such online activities should be educated about the consequences instead of direct trial.