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  • Writer's pictureAmy Carter


Has ‘trolling’ becoming the norm due to the growth of social media platforms?

With this generation being social media obsessed, and social influences ruling the internet, trolling is becoming a part of everyday life.

There are currently 3.499 billion active social media users globally (April 2019). This represents 45% of the total global population and shows a 6.1% increase since April 2018.

The UK alone has 45 million social media users, equating to 67% of the population. With these excruciating figures, is trolling online inevitable?

It has been documented in the media that the majority of the victims of trolling are celebrities.

Recent examples include;

- Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson

- Geordie Shore’s Holly Hagan

- Strictly’s Mike Bushell

- Football legend, Gary Lineker

- The brain of Countdown, Rachel Riley

The most recent example of the effects of online trolling was told through the recent documentary by Jesy Nelson. She explained how her life was turned ‘upside down’ after she won the X-Factor due to constant trolling online

Within the documentary, the Little Mix star opens up for the first time about her suicide attempt and said: “I just remember thinking, I just need this to go away, I’m going to end this”.

Jesy said: “We were all told we had to have social media and it completely changed my life.

“The whole world had an opinion on me and they weren’t good ones.

"From the minute those comments started it became one of the worst times of my life.

“I wasn’t known as one of the singers from Little Mix. I was always known as the fat, ugly one. It literally consumed every part of me.”

This is just one of the many examples of the effects of online trolling. And thankfully there was no tragic ending unlike many other cases. So why is there no punishment set in place for people who post negative comments online?

It won’t come as a shock that not everyone is going to like or agree with everything someone puts online. However, we pose the question of, should their be a punishment for online trolls, and why?

We asked this question to 6 members of the public, and this is there response...

Laura May, 19, Guisborough who studies Accounting at Teesside University

"I totally disagree with trolling and would like to think that people are punished for what they say online.

"The consequences that trolling can have on celebrities or normal every day people can be devastating but, I don't how they would actually police the matter.

"People can take opinions in different ways and something that may offend one person, may not another

"So how could you differentiate between an offence and just a nasty comment?" says Laura.

Glynn Williams, 62, Plumber from Middlesbrough

"I totally believe that online trolling should be punished.

"Trolls think they can hid behind the shadows throwing insults, criticism and often very hurtful remarks out in a public forum with no opportunity for the victim to respond.

"It's under the pretence of debate however, it is a cowards way to bully" Says Glynn.

Dominic Thorp, 20, Middlesbrough who studies Computer Science at Teesside University

"I think it totally depends on the level of the insult.

"If the comment was meant to be a joke then fair enough however, when it becomes more than a joke that's when I believe they should receive a harsh punishment" says Dominic.

Emma Gettings, 18, Middlesbrough, Student at Sunderland University

"I completely agree with punishing people who troll online.

"Everyone has a different perception of comments they're receiving, especially online as the tone of voice is stripped away, making it difficult to get the intended meaning.

"It has a huge detrimental effect on people's mental health and I feel that anything causing any other person harm is punishable, yet where is the boundary set between a meaningless comment and an offence?" Says Emma.

Joseph Wheatley, 18, Middlesbrough who studies Games Art at Teesside University

"I don't think there should be a punishment for online trolling because everyone has the right to freedom of speech and can say what they like.

"Even if the comments are negative, it could be seen as comedy in their eyes.

"You have the option to block or remove people online if you don't like what they are saying" Says Joseph.

Zack Wilkins, 22, Middlesbrough who studies Games Art at Teesside University

"I definitely believe that there should be a punishment for online trolling.

"If it leads to suicide it should be seen as the same crime as manslaughter because I believe they have caused the death of that individual" says Zack.

The answer’s to the posed question highlights that the public has a mixed opinion on whether or not there should be a punishment for social media trolls.

Diane Abbott, has stepped down as shadow Home Secretary and demands that there should be a crackdown on the anonymity of online trolls.

Abbott wants social media companies to make it harder for online trolls to remain totally anonymous.

“The huge rise in online abuse has to do with the anonymity, and my view is that we should make it harder for people to be anonymous online” she says.

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