“In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
Female journalists and bloggers have recently started complaining that they are threatened or insulted online. The so-called trolls post or email threats about raping or crimes even worse.
In order to support each other and get a debate started about this – at the least – unfriendly behaviour towards women, blogger Sady Doyle encouraged women to share the insults women receive online (http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/11/07/why-are-you-in-such-a-bad-mood-mencallmethings-responds/). On 7 novemer 2011, the hashtag #mencallmethings was trending topic on twitter. The hashtag is used by female bloggers and journalists to retweet anonymous insults they receive on a daily basis.
Jessica Valenti, called one of the top 100 inspiring women and one of the most influential bloggers of the 21st century by the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/08/jessica-valenti-100-women), says to the Sydney Morning Herald:
“I can’t remember the last day where I opened my email and there wasn’t a piece of vicious (often sexual, often violent) hate mail there. I also don’t write about it because these days I’m loath to give any attention to harassers – in part because that’s what they’re so desperate for, but also because the threats have become so bad that my life offline has been seriously impaired by it and I’m just plain scared. But that’s the goal of harassers – to scare, to terrorise, but most of all, to shut us up.”
According to Boston-based blogger Courtney Stanton, one out of four comments she gets on blogs, are from an anonymous ‘troll’ trying to provoke a debate by posting pro-rapist comments.
New Yorker Shelby Knox was told ‘to die in a fire’ and Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore said that she could not even have some comments made public because of their vulgarity.
The Guardian invited a panel of British bloggers to debate about this issue, and find possible solutions to this problem. A suggested idea was sending comments of this sort straight to the police, but there is doubt among the bloggers whether this will have any effect.