Internet Trolling: Should It Be Illegal?

Submitted by: ferdyfred 5 years ago in
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14898564

A UK internet troll has been jailed for mocking dead teenagers on various websites. Should trolling be against the law?
There are 56 comments:
Male 275
How do you know? i mean you dont get out much..
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Male 639
This post is stupid... anyone who reads it is clearly an idiot.

Sorry, I just couldn`t resist ;)
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Male 697
Trolling isn`t bullying. And I mean by definition.
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Male 17,512
Essersmith: You must really love me then, to give me that much attention. I must disappoint you though, because I`m straight.
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Female 144
It should be legal to punch someone in the face if they instigate it.
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Male 26
Well, there`s a difference between the flash of vitriol on a public forum and determined, continued pursuit and harrassment of an individual over a period of time.

Given that sensitivity to comments can differ wildly between individuals, it`s a hard to judge when a person has gone too far and I find myself leaning towards advocating the ignoring of morons over pursuing litigation or legal procedings.

Of course, directly emailing an individual, as highlighted by HalfPintRoo (and especially considering the content specified), is a step too far towards harassment to be permissable.

Freedom of expression in the UK is less a right and more a series of types of expression you have a right to be protected from.
Insulting and harrasment are two of them.

How this interacts with the internet, whether the location of the poster, target or the comment is primary in enforcement of law, is an area deserving of scrutiny.

Buggered if I know.
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Male 303
Free speech includes hate speech.

You ban non-nice individuals saying this poo you both make everyone unaware that they`re non-nice individuals and you set the dangerous president that the government can determine what you can and can`t say.

Free speech is an intrinsic and inherent right and cannot be removed by any man or institution.
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Female 2,764
I hope you never experience what those families have experienced. I hope your mother never has to either.
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Male 191
What`s the difference between making fun of someone on a comedy sketch and making fun of someone on the internet? Both are meant to be funny. People took offense at both. What`s the difference? You personally didn`t take offense at the comedy sketch, but you took offense at the internet sketch? I`m sorry to break it to you, but the last time I checked, no one person was king of the world.
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Male 191
So emailing pictures to people is illegal? Oh, well then I think nearly every internet user is at fault and should be thrown in jail. The recipient of the email took offense at the picture? I think nearly everyone on the internet has taken offense at at least one picture, and for every picture that`s uploaded to the internet, at least one person takes offense at it. Does that mean everyone who uploads pictures to the internet should be thrown in jail?

The point is that "offensive" is a relative term. What one person finds offensive, other people find hilarious. For example, I nearly always laugh at comical depictions of muhammad, whereas muslims take offense at any depiction of muhammad, humorous or otherwise.
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Female 2,764
I suppose the case where trolls were emailing leaked pictures of a beheaded accident victim directly to her parents is ok too. After all, your rights and freedoms would have been violated if you weren`t allowed to do that, right?
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Female 2,764
There is a huge difference in making fun of someone for a comedy sketch and going on a memorial page for a dead child (public or not, who cares) and posting something hateful and unfunny just because you can. My head is spinning in shock that so many of you don`t see the difference between freedom of speech and hateful trolling. What he said is not expressing opinion, he said something completely out of line on a page were those filled with grief visit to support one another through a hard time.
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Male 191
They set up a facebook page and allowed anyone in the entire world with a facebook account to post on it. Someone posted on it. And then went to jail. Sounds drating stupid. The fact that it was "offensive" is extremely relative. Like is pointed out in the article, comedians more often than not make fun of people in order to get a laugh. If the people were really that up in arms about the post, then they shouldn`t have opened the facebook page to comments. Seriously. I fear for society when bullying on the internet is this big of a deal. We`re setting up the next generation to be nothing but whinny emo bitches.

The conspiracy theorist inside of me is also sounding the alarm bells. This sounds like a convenient excuse to allow the government to silence anyone who says things that they don`t like. Like groups who use facebook to organize protests against unpopular governments. Far-fetched, maybe, but something to keep in mind.
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Male 275
Dont be silly, i only harass you.
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Male 17,512
Essersmith: You`d likely go back to harassing people crossing your bridge.
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Male 15,832
We often forget that the UK does not have a Bill of Rights.
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Female 2,764
@jamie76- thats exactly what I meant by offensive opinions. Nothing wrong with what you said at all... but again, "I fell asleep on the tracks, lolz" on a teenagers family memorial page is trolling... Surely you see the difference
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Male 2,345
the UK has so little freedom left anyway this does not surprise me. This is total and utter bullpoo still and no one should ever be arrest for trolling.

everyone that does not like that can sucks balls...now go call the police and have them arrest me for trolling.
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Female 407
That`s just pathetic.
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Male 2,033
There are two sides to every story, and the BBC has definitely skewed this one. I recommend you get the otherside of things before passing judgement.
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Female 3,598
[quote] Instead, if you excessively troll, 2 government agents come to your house and bitch slap you for 20 minutes.[/quote]
^^^THIS!!! YES FOR THIS!!!^^^^
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Male 10,855
"I disagree with what you say, but I`ll defend to death your right to say it."
-Voltaire
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Male 14
The unfortunate nature and junk byproduct of relative freedom of speech. Hardly surprising that anonymity breeds toxic self-indulgent posting but the alternative "cure" is worse than the disease IMHO.
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Male 3,431
Don`t make trolling illegal, make severe ass kickings legal and do away with anonymity. Shoot man, Trolling can be great for a laugh, but that guy wasn`t a troll, he was a worthless arsehole.
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Male 15,510
I hope it becomes Illegal but then again we would lose like 80% of IAB users then
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Female 472
This guy is scum, plain and simple. However, on the issue of should trolling be illegal..I don`t think so.

Instead, if you excessively troll, 2 government agents come to your house and bitch slap you for 20 minutes.(and post pics on a website so we can all get a laugh.)
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Male 25,416
His tact was not cool... trolling can be fun when your only keeping it like you would around friends. But he pro-actively made fun of dead people in a very fowl way and did deserve what happened.
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Male 275
No, if we ban it, what would guys like TrollrJak do all day then? productive things? hah.
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Male 3,147
@Baelzar "It`s dangerous to start categorizing free speech."

Trouble is, this isn`t the UK starting it, we started a while ago, for instance what the wesboro baptist church get away with over there could be classed as a hate crime here - so this is just another step in that direction of putting ever increasing caps on freedom of speech.

on one hand it`s sometimes nice to see dickheads shut up.... on the other, it shouldn`t be the state shutting them up it should be their peers.
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Male 11
4 south wales minors died last week and some tasteless drat made a facebook group mocking them causing offence to thousands. shove your free speech up your ass
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Male 2,422
George Orwell approves. If the UK wants to be a totalitarian nanny state (the lamest kind of totalitarianism ever invented) that`s fine. But in the U.S. if the WBC protesting funerals is protected speech then so is "trolling"(whatever the legal definition of that is).
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Male 1,399
Of course not. This is even a question?

It`s dangerous to start categorizing free speech.
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Male 2,841
Welcome to the future, where having a sense of humor will get you arrested.
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Male 109
No its not against the law to be a cowardly non-nice individual.
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Male 218
trolling families who lost someone is pretty low
but making a facebook memorial is stupid

a regular memorial will do just fine
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Male 3,147
Besides, the courts can`t really do any worse to that guy than nature`s already done... he`s not only a trolling dickhead, he`s a really drating ugly one. Which I guess is why a lot of trolls do it... it`s not like they must get lots of positive attention in real life social interactions.
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Male 3,147
It`s the thin end of the wedge... I think the UK government has been waiting for a case like this to come along so they can justify tighter controls over the net, all whilst giving a veneer of only doing it to protect the vulnerable - wno don`t really need their protection in this way.... the site owners could have blocked the guy`s IP address at any stage, could have just removed any offensive messages, had the site self policing with all the other people just calling the guy a dickhead and making him look silly for trolling. But none of those easily imposed measures would have made headlines or got any sort of support for the government stepping in and taking more control of the web... the freedom on it frightens the life out of governments and I doubt there is one government out there that wouldn`t censor to the level of the chinese if they thought they`d currently get away with it with the electorate.

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Male 749
The definition of `trolling` in the article is way too broad. I always thought it was being intentionally offensive to provoke a reaction, more the fishing reference than the monster reference. Including cyber bullying though, makes no sense to me.

But to the question at hand. People found ways to handle people who are rude face to face, I suspect it won`t be long before society will find a better way to correct those who are rude on line. I would not want to see that happen through criminal prosecutions though. We have too many laws as it is.
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Male 90
If so, i want to be a internet cop
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Male 3,425
There`s a line. Pointless or stupid comments are annoying. Linking an unsuspecting person to lemonparty can be pretty hilarious and won`t cause any long term damage. Even tasteless jokes can be funny, if not largely due to the shock value. However, directly targeting the grieving families of dead people "for the lulz" makes you a real piece of sh-t, anyone who does that should really get a life.

I think the punishment was a bit extreme, but maybe it will act as a deterrent.
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Male 1,920
Q.Did anybody catch what the charges were?

A. Duffy pleaded guilty to two counts of sending a communication of an indecent or offensive nature.

Source
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Female 2,764
When it comes to trolling, I think there is a nice clear line from that and "free speech". Debating about a hot topic or personal (even offense) opinion is free speech. Saying "I fell asleep on the tracks lolz" on a memorial page for a dead teenager is trolling, not a matter of free speech. Creating online identities is one thing, using them to torment someone (such as a 13 year old girl) is trolling!
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Male 12,365
Off on a tangent...are trolling and flaming really considered the same thing nowadays? They were quite different when I started online.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Did anybody catch what the charges were? Surely they can`t send a person to jail under the charge of "trolling", or "making fun of" someone.[/quote]

They can in the UK. Public Order Act 1986, as amended 1994 and 1995. Also Criminal Justice Act 2003.
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Male 12,365
[quote">You can`t stop people from being non-nice individuals just because it hurts people`s feelings.[/quote">

You can in the UK. Well, you can`t but the authorities can. Totalitarianism in the law has been quietly increased by deception for decades now.

Public Order Act 1986

Sections 4, 4a and 5 - note the annotated amendments which change the defence of being in a private dwelling to exclude internet use - "had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling".
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Female 1,589
Did anybody catch what the charges were? Surely they can`t send a person to jail under the charge of "trolling", or "making fun of" someone.
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Female 3,727
Well, I hope not. I mean the hits on IAB would drop DRAMATICALLY! ;-)
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Male 3,894
Freedom of speech. That`s all there is to say about it--I don`t approve of your message, but if that`s the cost of having that right for everyone, it`s worth paying.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Eh...iffy on it. On the one hand, people are genuinely being hurt and some of what trolls do violates personal security (stalking, death threats, etc.).[/quote]

Violating personal security in any significant way is already illegal in the UK and has been since before the web existed. The laws were written to be independent of media and they`re overly broad and vague anyway (so they can be used against protestors of any kind, if the authorities want to do so).

What`s being talked about is actually quite different, despite how it`s being portrayed. The intent is to continue to demonise the internet for having fewer automatic controls than the real world, so that more controls can be imposed without effective objection being possible. Eventually you`ll have to verify your identity to go online at all, so everything you do can be easily tracked.

[quote]On the other hand, freedom of speech. I think if it doesn`t cause someone endangerment...then no.[/quot
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Male 38,457

It`s easy to say what that guy did is bad,
but where is the line between trolling and free speech? It can get blurry.

The family should have just kicked the guys ass.
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Female 2,674
People who do poo like that are idiots, but they shouldn`t be put in jail for it. It`s freedom of speech. You can`t stop people from being non-nice individuals just because it hurts people`s feelings. I wouldn`t be happy if it was my family members, but there is a block feature on facebook for a reason.

Now if it`s death threats or harassment, that`s a different situation. Simply making fun of someone`s death isn`t a danger to anyone though.
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Male 383
Tricky..I suppose this fills a fine line between freedom of speech and harassment.
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Male 1,237
Wow I can`t believe what I`m reading - Talk about a totalitarian approach to free speech! Ironic that they feature a photo of Stephen Fry, who I`m sure would object to such harsh measures.. Where do you draw the line?

I feel for the families and the people posting this junk need to get a life -But trolling is one thing, harassment of bereaved relatives is another...
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Female 1,743
Free speech shouldn`t be illegal.
However, someone needs to hit these fools over the head with a crowbar and teach them some manners.
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Female 295
Eh...iffy on it. On the one hand, people are genuinely being hurt and some of what trolls do violates personal security (stalking, death threats, etc.). On the other hand, freedom of speech. I think if it doesn`t cause someone endangerment...then no.
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Male 13,624
Link: Internet Trolling: Should It Be Illegal? [Rate Link] - A UK internet troll has been jailed for mocking dead teenagers on various websites. Should trolling be against the law?
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