In every fairytale, the princess is bewitched by the evil step mother, in every action movie the superhero is set upon by the evil villain: with all things good comes bad. Similarly, with the advancement and openness of the internet, we too are plagued by trolls and online bullies who lurk within our screens.
With the advancement of technology, opportunities are provided but some chose to abuse and destroy these privileges for the rest of us. This is the case with the freedom of users on the internet. Let me introduce ‘the troll’; the online user who is usually anonymous and purposely sets out to create conflict and controversy across media platforms with offensive and racist/sexist behaviour. Trolls exploit the openness of these online platforms with distasteful comments, photos and spam; most will remain untouched unless formally reported.
This online graffiti has caused what is known as the ‘chilling effect’ on free speech as fellow users now refrain from stating their opinions online through YouTube and other public forums, for fear of legal prosecution. The goodness of free speech is being sabotaged by online bullies/trolls.The beauty of the internet being an opened platform is that people can state their opinions reaching a large audience fast so why do some push the boundaries and use offensive, threatening material? Racist, sexist and offensive comments are not tolerated in public places like schools and cafes in the real world so why do people think it is ok to distribute them across the web? That is because the culprits involved have the sanctuary of their computer screens; anonymous to the world.
This leads to the big debate. Should open media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook follow the trends of other sites turning into a restricted platform; filtering the public comments displayed on their sites? This would not only punish the social media platforms but would have a domino affect on users: all because of the few trolls who want to ruin it for the rest of us. By filtering comments on internet sites, valuable content will be lost and we will begin to see the return of Gatekeepers.
The openness of the internet has so many advantages and positives attributed regarding the publication of free speech. It is unfortunate that this privilege could be jeopardised in the future due to such a small minority. Trolls Beware; your days are numbered.