What is Trolling?
Traditionally, trolling refers to the act of posting inflammatory or off-topic messages on a blog, online article, chat room, forum or any other form of online community with the intent of provoking an emotional response. Lately, it has become very much about people who deface social media pages and sites with the sole intent of causing grief to the families. There are also people who set up bogus social media accounts for the sole purpose of trolling a particular person’s site, or those posting on a particular subject.
A troll can be either the person trolling, or the message itself.
It’s hard to imagine why these people would do such ghastly things, but there are all manner of salacious and unpleasant people out there on the Internet. And it’s surprising who some of them are. Recently, in the UK, a police officer was found to have created fake Facebook accounts to troll a woman (Nicola Brooks), who had posted some strong opinions about a contestant singing on the British version of X-Factor. The police officer did not like what she had posted and created the fake Facebook accounts to call her everything from a child abuser to a prostitute. He also published her home address.
Nicola Brooks took legal action against the police officer, and won a High Court Judgment in June that required the names and email and IP addresses of the fake profiles to be revealed. This order led to the arrest of the police officer responsible.
A new bill has been proposed in the U.K. that could dramatically curtail online bullying and trolling by making it quicker and easier to obtain the identities and IP addresses of Internet defamers.
In Australia, The Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (the Criminal Code) Part 10.6 can be used to prosecute individuals who are “trolls”.
An Australian man was recently jailed in Australia for trolling, as was a British man.
The Criminal Code Part 10.6 regulates internet services and some of the areas that the Part encompasses are child abuse material, child pornography, as well as using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause an offence to the reasonable person as stated in Part 10.6, Division 474.17(1).
There are laws at state level that also be used to prohibit offensive online behaviour, such as Queensland’s Criminal Code, as well as the Crimes Act in both New South Wales and Victoria.
Depending on what type of trolling behaviour was undertaken, there can be a few options available to stop trolls. If an individual believes that they have been defamed, seek legal advice. However, if the trolling behaviour has included content that would normally be refused classification, or classified as X 18+ or R 18+ a complaint can be made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) who can investigate complaints relating to prohibited material.
We once again remind you to be aware that there is no anonymity on the Internet. You should always behave online as you would in real life. Authorities are getting tougher on online trolls, bullies and scammers, and laws are being amended and created toe ensure they are punished.