At the end of the day, for regular internet users as well as trolls, there is no such thing as being anonymous online. Any clever hacker, competent staff at internet service providers, government authorities and the clever folk managing social media companies can find out the identity of trolls. They just don’t want to bother.
Somehow freedom of speech has been translated into allowing the nasties out there to attack innocent people with verbal abuse and even threats to personal safety. And the more vicious the attacks it seems the less inclined the folk, such as Twitter in this instance, are to do anything about it.
Two Trolls go to Prison
But in a well publicised case in the UK two nasty trolls have been sentenced to prison terms. A victory for decent behaviour. A victory for the defence of victims and a great outcome for the previously condemned to ‘sitting duck’ status.
The internet has allowed people the opportunity to viciously attack other people for no reason whatsoever. And they feel they can do this because they can hide behind a bunch of anonymous accounts and hidden identities.
You can’t hide
But this is a misnomer. There is no such thing. Everybody can be found. There just has to be sufficient will to bother to do the hard work. It’s all very well for companies such as Facebook or Twitter to hide behind the ‘use at your own peril’ kind of attitude. It can only last so long. Surely at some stage your customers are going to get annoyed.
And this is precisely what happened in the case of Ms Caroline Criado-Perez who was attacked via Twitter for wanting to promote having a woman portrayed on a UK bank note. Not exactly what one would consider a mind blowing contentious matter, one would think.
In response to an online user movement Twitter finally introduced a ‘report abuse’ button. After all, at the height of the nasty campaign, Criado-Perez was getting 50 rape and murder threats per hour. That’s no small attack. Of course sending two trolls to prison is hardly going to dent that kind of vitriolic abuse.
But what it does, by sending these two rather pathetic individuals to prison, is to broadcast a warning to other trolls. You can be found. And where people really want to, they can stop being a victim and get the authorities to step in. Of course they shouldn’t have to. Surely society should allow a woman to campaign to have a famous woman on a bank note and not be attacked for this? You’d think.