Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

The Effect of De-Individuation of the Internet Troller on Criminal Procedure Implementation: An Interview with a Hater

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

The Effect of De-Individuation of the Internet Troller on Criminal Procedure Implementation: An Interview with a Hater

Article excerpt


Internet trolling is proving a problem for many people and organisations that make up networked societies. The term itself is proving controversial, as 'trolling' once reflected the posting of provocative messages, whereas it has now been extended to cover the posting of offensive messages also. One could therefore conceptualise trolling, in its current form, to include both Internet abuse and data misuse. There has at present been no effective case study into what makes Internet trollers tick so that it is possible to understand how to effectively deal with them. Case studies as early as 2008 identified the existence of Internet users that abuse others (e.g. Snerts) and those that entertain others (e.g. Trolls). More recent studies have linked this humorous kind of user, the 'Troll' to transgressive and abusive forms of posting messages, by people who self-describe themselves as 'trolls.'

Trolling in general is the posting of messages via a communications network that are intended to be provocative, offensive or menacing. It is possible to differentiate the different types of trolling into two categories to ascertain which is offensive and which is productive. The more positive kind is called 'kudos trolling', and the offensive kind is called, 'flame trolling'. Newspapers across the world are publishing stories each day of such offensive and menacing trollers, called Snerts in the trolling research sphere (Bishop, 2008; Bishop, 2013) and mistakenly "trolls" by the mainstream media. A common agreement is that there is a type of troller known as a 'Hater'. These are a very specific type of Snert, which one could call a 'Domination Snert' as they go out of their way to bully a specific target (Bishop, 2012b; Bishop, 2012c).

Hater Trollers and the Deindividuation of Internet Trollers

Deindividuation is a psychological state where inner restraints are lost when individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals (Demetriou & Silke, 2003). Feelings of deindividuation are known to weaken a person's ability to regulate behaviour, resulting in them engaging in rational, long-term planning to target others where they are less likely to care what others think of their behaviour (Seigfried, Lovely, & Rogers, 2008). Deindividuation is an important part of depersonalization, which is characterized by a decreased sense of self-identity, self-awareness, and lower level of self-control (Chao & Tao, 2012).

Such definitions of deindividuation appear to be perfect descriptions of Snerts and Hater Trollers. Such Internet users target their victims, consciously and purposely as a way to get discomfort from trying to dash their confidence, to get a sense of satisfaction they wouldn't otherwise. It is known that when Internet users lose the ability to judge information about others that is often supplied through visual and auditory cues, they are both more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour, such as trolling, and to misinterpret the meaning intended by others (Lampe, 2012).

Hater trollers when presented with a user or website where someone "puffs themselves up" or otherwise presents a very confident picture of themselves tend to target these people for their abuse. Even if the reason these people are presenting this information are trying to build esteem when they have a difficult life, as Lampe (2012) argued, without such information being obvious, it can lead to the rise of Hater trollers who target a particular individual.

Deindividuation and flame trolling as a consequence of 'empathic spectrum conditions'

Unlike is commonly thought about bullies, including cyber bullies, they are often cold and manipulative experts in social situations, organising gangs and using subtle, indirect methods (Sutton, Smith, & Swettenham, 1999). The Internet is a fertile environment for such people as its means of surveillance often has less than adequate controls over potential abuse (Smith, 2011). …

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