ANTI-TROLL.ORG IS THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE ANTI-TROLL ALLIANCE
WE ARE A COLLECTIVE ORGANISATION ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNING TO MAKE 'TROLLING' A RECOGNISED CRIMINAL OFFENCE
“Freedom of Speech does NOT mean Freedom to abuse people. People who ‘Troll’ online are in effect guilty of Cyber-bullying, and we believe should face the same punishment as the crime of Cyber-stalking. This is why we are campaigning to have Trolling or Cyber-bullying re-classified, so that it can carry the same punishment as Cyber-stalking. We hope to have Trolling included in the The current US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law, and have that law updated to suit as such.”
– Colin J Todd 2010
WHAT IS A ‘TROLL’?
A ‘Troll’ is a person who posts a deliberately provocative or abusive message to a newsgroup or message board, with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.
These people are essentially a type of ‘Cyber-bully’, who get off on other people’s pain or distress.
That is why many of us hardcore Anti-Troll campaigners are campaigning to have Trolling or Cyber-bullying re-classified, so that it can carry the same punishment as Cyber-stalking. We hope to have Trolling included in the The current US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law, and have that law updated to suit as such.
We classify Trolling the same as Cyber-stalking, because lets face the facts - Trolling is exactly the same as cyber-stalking, though with a limited timespan.
While cyber-stalkers concentrate on only one target, the Troll can have up to 100 targets (the number of victims in the forum he posts) per day, and can move from group to group creating more and more victims.
HOW CLOSELY RELATED ARE ‘TROLLING’ AND ‘CYBER-STALKING’?
Let’s look at the definition of ‘Cyberstalking’, and see just how closely it relates to the mentality of a Troll, or ‘Cyberbully’.
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. The definition of "harassment" must meet the criterion that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.
A number of key factors have been identified for cyber-stalking:
Many cyber-stalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or Amazon.com. – The exact same methods that Trolls employ to abuse their victims.
Attempts to gather information about the victim.
Cyberstalkers / trolls may approach their victim's friends, family and work colleagues to obtain personal information. They may advertise for information on the Internet, or hire a private detective. They often will monitor the victim's online activities and attempt to trace their IP address in an effort to gather more information about their victims. – ANOTHER common tactic that your average Troll employs to abuse their victims.
Encouraging others to harass the victim.
Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his/her family in some way, or may post the victim's name and telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit. And yet ANOTHER common tactic that your average Troll employs to abuse their victims.
The cyberstalker will claim that the victim is harassing him/her. Bocij writes that this phenomenon has been noted in a number of well-known cases. – And yet ANOTHER hallmark of your average Troll.
Attacks on data and equipment.
They may try to damage the victim's computer by sending viruses. – Exactly what Trolls do.
Ordering goods and services.
They order items or subscribe to magazines in the victim's name. These often involve subscriptions to pornography or ordering sex toys then having them delivered to the victim's workplace. – ANOTHER typical Troll tactic.
Arranging to meet.
Young people face a particularly high risk of having cyber-stalkers try to set up meetings between them. – And yet ANOTHER Troll tactic. (Please see our article ‘Why do people Troll’ below for the links between Trolling and Pedophiles)
As you can see from the above, ALL of these methods of abuse / harassment are ALSO the key factors of Trolling / Cyber-bullying.
Cyber-stalkers meet or target their victims by using search engines, online forums, bulletin and discussion boards, chat rooms, and more recently, through online communities such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Friendster, and Indymedia, a media outlet known for self-publishing, in exacty the same way as Trolls. They may engage in live chat harassment or flaming or they may send electronic viruses and unsolicited e-mails, in the exact same way as Trolls do. Victims of cyber-stalking may not even know that they are being stalked. Cyber-stalkers / Trolls may research individuals to feed their obsessions and curiosity. Conversely, the acts of cyber-stalkers / Trolls may become more intense, such as repeatedly instant messaging their targets.
More commonly they will post defamatory or derogatory statements about their stalking target on web pages, message boards and in guest books designed to get a reaction or response from their victim, thereby initiating contact. In some cases, they have been known to create fake blogs in the name of the victim containing defamatory or pornographic content, just as Trolls do.
When prosecuted, many stalkers have unsuccessfully attempted to justify their behavior based on their use of public forums, as opposed to direct contact. Once they get a reaction from the victim, they will typically attempt to track or follow the victim's internet activity. Classic cyberstalking behavior includes the tracing of the victim's IP address in an attempt to verify their home or place of employment.
WHY DO PEOPLE ‘TROLL’?
We have been studying Troll behavior for many years, and find that the main reason they act this way is because of mental health issues or psychological problems. This has been discussed in depth with psychologists and therapists, and they have come to the same conclusions: That trolls are people with serious socialogical, psychological and deep-seated mental issues, stemming from either sexual abuse, mental illness, and problems with their sexual identity.
Do you really think any sane person would want to go onto a discussion board, with the sole purpose of starting an argument, if they were not mentally ill? These people would not act that way in the street in front of a random stranger, so what gives them the right to do it in an online environment? They are deluding themselves if they think that trolling is acceptable behavior. In my opinion, Trolls should be banned from the internet, and made to attend classes for their 'mental health issues', and be made to discuss why they feel the need to upset / harass / defame / belittle people online.
To understand why people 'troll' you first have to understand mental illness. Trolling is a sign of someone who is mentally ill, or who is emotionally unbalanced and angry at normal people for some reason or other.
We find that most people who are trolls do this for 5 reasons:
1. An abusive childhood.
The highest percentage of trolls have been abused in their childhood, mainly sexually. You will find that a family member, often their father/grandfather/uncle, has been interfering with them in a sexual manner, leaving them with deep-seated emotional and psychological problems. This makes the child withdrawn and often angry at the world, and many of these type of Trolls suffer from sexual inadequacy, and problems with intimacy with the opposite sex. This leads to negative thoughts and frustration, and they vent their frustration by attacking other people online. You will find these types of trolls often post the most violent or abusive posts, mostly towards women because of their sexual inadequacy.
2. Mental illness / Mental Health Problems
Mentally ill people are the next highest percentage that make up trolls. Children with learning difficulties, ADHD, dyslexic or have emotional problems or some other sort of retardations. These trolls are the easiest to spot, as their spelling, grammar, and overall posts are quite horrendous. Sometimes it is even hard to understand what they are saying because of their bad grammatical errors.
3. Homosexuals in denial.
The next highest percentage of trolls is made up of repressed homosexuals, or homosexuals in denial. Children with homosexual tendencies, who are often confused with their sexual identity. Most of these type of Trolls are generally immature young men, many of whom are still in their early teens, so it seems to me immaturity and sexual inadequacy would be the main factors. While normal young men are out chasing girls, acting the way boys should, these Trolls would rather spend their time harassing grown men in forums and discussion boards. It does have all the hallmarks of problems with their sexuality. These types of trolls are easy to spot also, as their posts are generally made-up of sexual innuendos, references to sexual acts, discussions about the size of their manhood, or immature rape fantasies. You will find that many of these people have problems with sexual intimacy or sexual inadequacy.
4. Social Outcasts
The next highest percentage that make up Trolls are what we could class as ‘social outcasts’. People who, for some reason or other, have turned their backs on society’s ‘norms’. These people are unable to fit in at school / college / the workplace, and because of this harbour a deep seated hate for all that is normal. Most type of people in this group display sociopathic tendencies brought on by a deep seated inferiority complex. They see everyone as their enemy because of their feelings of worthlessness, inferiority, and negative emotions. Most of this group are the type of people who regularly cut or self-harm, are loners who listen to anti-social music (punk / loud aggressive heavy metal), or are part of the ‘emo’ or ‘Goth’ community (A dangerous teen sub-culture that were responsible for the Columbine High-School tragedy).
5. Sexual Predators
The last of the group that make up ‘Trolls’ are what we like to refer to as ‘Sex Predators’. These types of Troll like to masquerade online using a profile of young boy, though they are much older. These Trolls spend much of their time Trolling forums and social networking websites for teenage girls to harass and verbally abuse. While their victim may not realise this, they target these girls so to gain access to their personal information, list of their friends and acquaintances, and gain access to their personal photograph sections.
This is the most dangerous type of Troll, and the ones in the highest risk factor to children. Though we estimate that around 60% of ALL Trolls have pedophile tendencies, and download pictures of child-abuse, child-rape, and animal-rape and abuse, this 5th category pose a VERY REAL threat of actually carrying out a rape to a child.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH A ‘TROLL’?
The best ways to deal with trolls are the following :
Ignore postings that you suspect may be from trolls.
Don't invest any of your self emotionally until you have verified beyond all doubt that the person you are dealing with is genuine Beware of off list emails that praise and flatter, or seem to evoke sympathy.
If you feel yourself beginning to like someone, ask first: how much verifiable data do I have about them?
If you do get involved in anyone, seek out verifiable data. Trolls will provide some data that will lead to dead ends; real people will provide some data that is open-ended and leads to a myriad of sources which enable you to verify their genuine status If you must respond to a troll posting, don't get involved in the argument; limit it to pointing out that the posting may be considered as trollish, for the benefit of other list members.
Put the suspected Troll on your block or banned list.
Write to the listmaster to highlight what is happening.
Write to the postmaster of the troll's domain. Keep it simple, polite and to the point (they are very busy!). Include your evidence (e.g.: offensive emails) and the full email header information, so that the troll can be properly traced.
Contact the Troll’s ISP. (This can be easily traced by using their IP Address) Note: Many Trolls may be using the computers at their works / school / college to post their abuse. If you find out where the abuse is originating, contact the IT Department of their school / college / place of employment, and give them all the information, including IP address, times when the abuse happened, email address that the abuse was sent from.
Listmasters can also make their lists restricted, and conduct a security analysis of each list application before allowing them to subscribe. This is probably easier to do in areas that have professional associations or qualifications.
HOW CAN I DEAL WITH A ‘TROLL’ IF THEY REFUSE TO STOP THEIR CAMPAIGN OF HATE?
An assortment of agencies and organizations are working to improve internet safety and advise people on dealing with online harassment.
Most internet service providers have terms of service that prohibit abusive behaviour, but don't do much to put an end to trolling. Ed Opperman, president of Opperman Investigations, says, “...the Communications Decency Act of 1996 ("CDA") Section 230(c)(1) shields providers of interactive computer services from liability for the actions of the individuals using those services. Since they have no liability for the actions of their members they make very little effort to identify them or even discourage the cyber harassment of other members.”
Complaints To Internet Service Providers
Making a complaint is often a convoluted process that involves finding the right form to fill in, only to discover that marking an inappropriate message as spam is the solution offered. When the complaint is received and investigated, the response is typically unhelpful – unless the offending message came from one member to another, they won't do anything.
Recipients of unwanted emails are referred to Halt Abuse or WHOIS and invited to conduct their own investigations by contacting the internet service provider of the originating email. When it can be proved that the abusive email did come from another member, the service providers claim that they cannot disclose the action taken on another user's account with a third party. There is no way of finding out what is being done.
Complaints To Cyber Crime-fighting Authorities
The efforts of Jayne Hitchcock, president of Halt Abuse, to bring the issue of cyberstalking to the attention of the law enforcement community has borne some fruit in terms of the offence being taken more seriously, but, to date, there are no federal laws that can be brought to bear on any but the most egregious abusers. Even then, a material threat or proof of actual damage to an individual must be proved.
Complaints about all forms of harassment are accepted at cybercrime.gov, where they are directed to the IC3 Internet Crime Complaint Center. While it is unlikely that anything will be done to stop abusive or unwanted material being sent, they do keep a record of troll activity so that, when they finally do cross the line and commit a criminal offence (cyber harassment is a misdemeanour), their other activities can be brought to light when the case goes to court.
When threats are made, complaints are directed to the local FBI office and the local police. If the abuser can be identified, launching a civil case is a possibility. If illegal behaviour is proved in court, criminal charges may be brought.
Cybercrime Support Groups
Organisations such as Halt Abuse, Cyberangels and Wiredsafety.org are run by volunteers to fight online harassment through education of the general public, education of law enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims. They have a range of articles on their web pages giving advice on internet safety and what to do when targeted by trolls. Associated helplines and forums offer emotional support, and some of them have connections to detective agencies and law firms to enable victims to identify and prosecute their tormentors. While the problem of cyberbullying and trolling isn't going away, the proliferation of volunteer groups working in tandem with law enforcement agencies is giving people a chance to fight back – and occasionally win.
NEW TROLLING / CYBERSTALKING / CYBERBULLYING LEGISLATION
The current US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law is found at 47 USC sec. 223.
The first U.S. cyberstalking law went into effect in 1999 in California. Other states include prohibition against cyberstalking in their harassment or stalking legislation. In Florida, HB 479 was introduced in 2003 to ban cyberstalking. This was signed into law on October 2003.
Some states in the U.S. have begun to address the issue of cyberstalking: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York have included prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation. Alaska, Florida, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and California, have incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws.
Texas enacted the Stalking by Electronic Communications Act, 2001.
Missouri revised its state harassment statutes to include stalking and harassment by telephone and electronic communications (as well as cyber-bullying) after the Megan Meier suicide case of 2006.
A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications.
Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors
Cyberstalking has also been addressed in recent U.S. federal law. For example, the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Still, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level.
Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim's immediate family; and still others require the alleged stalker's course of conduct constitute an implied threat. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.