Accessability Links


Tuesday 12th November 2019

The rise of the internet and social media has allowed everyday people to voice their opinions and feelings on a sometimes massive scale. While this can be a good thing and has raised the profile of various charitable causes, events etc. many people are using social media and the internet as an outlet for online trolling – a way of spreading hate, abuse and bullying.

Of course, to counteract trolling on the internet completely, we need to get to the root of the problem, and racism, prejudice, and misogyny are just some of the things that fuel the ‘troll’ fire. But many argue that whilst stopping feelings of hate altogether may be a difficult task, more of a focus should be had on not giving abusers the platform to reach their victims so easily in the first place.

An issue that has been heavily debated in the tech industry recently is how technology firms should be doing more to control online Trolling… 

Labour MP Stella Creasy said ‘trolling is still not being taken seriously enough by police and tech companies who already have the tools to stop internet abusers’. It would seem that if these exchanges of online abuse were taking place outside of cyberspace, in the public, the authorities would be all over it, however, the fact that the abuser chooses to attack their victim behind the safety shield of a laptop makes it seem a lot less serious.

Creasy goes on to explain ‘If someone sends you flowers, if it’s someone you’ve asked never to contact you again, that’s really creepy. But online, unless they’ve said they want to murder you, the police and CPS don’t get it.’

Victims of online abuse are frustrated that tech companies are seemingly not recognising the magnitude of the abuse being experienced through their platforms and think these large firms are simply ‘turning a blind eye’.

Many argue that technology companies have the power to pretty much shut down online abuse on their sites altogether, but are choosing not to...

In an article by Jessica Valenti she states ‘If Twitter, Facebook or Google wanted to stop their users from receiving online harassment, they could do it tomorrow. When money is on the line, internet companies somehow magically find ways to remove content and block repeat offenders.’ Jessica refers to the strong stance Youtube takes on no copyright infringement on any of its video uploads, and how hot they are on sniffing out the culprits and blocking them from using their site. However, you only need to scroll through the comments underneath a music video to see the level of abuse recorded on their site every minute of every hour. 

Jessica raises the question ‘So, if these companies are so willing to protect intellectual property, why not protect the people using your services?’

Stella Creasy has stated that the only way to make serious waves in solving the issue would be to start treating the online world in the same way as the offline world. Abuse is abuse, it doesn’t matter where it takes place. Online abuse should not be trivialised because of the fact the abuse doesn’t happen in person. Stronger, recognised repercussions should be put in place for those that troll online.

Is progress being made?

It’s a long road ahead in terms of ridding online abuse, however, it seems some form of progress is being made.

Robert Buckland, speaking to The Guardian, said the CPS is continuing to revise its social media guidelines, “Online abuse can sometimes be worse than face-to-face abuse because it is all-pervading and does not end at the school gates or allow for privacy at home. The director of public prosecutions has met several social media providers, and the CPS will continue to work with them on measures to improve the reporting and prosecution of such abuse.”

In 2016, The CPS introduced new laws that could see those who create derogatory or humiliating content jailed!

In a recent BBC documentary featuring Jesy Nelson (of girl group Little Mix) it highlighted the detrimental impact online bullying is having on people across the world and also highlighted that there is still a lot to be done in terms of tech companies shutting down trolling accounts and combating online abuse.

Anti hate group the CCDH ( Centre for Countering Digital Hate) have created a guide 'Don't Feed the Trolls' which draws on new and leading-edge research to explore the psychology of trolling, why trolls behave the way they do, and the best way to deal with them. 

The CCDH also highlight in the guide that social media companies need to work better with anti-hate experts and mental health organisations, to "fundamentally rethink how they adjust their systems to deal with existing and emerging troll tactics".

What are your thoughts? Should tech companies be held responsible? Should they be doing more to stop online abuse? Or, is it down to the police to crack down?

We’d love to get your views on this. Tweet us @AmsourceTech. 

Follow the hashtag #AntibullyingWeek for more articles and news on online trolling and how it can be tackled.

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