Trolling is a phenomenon that has swept across websites in recent years. Online forums, Facebook pages and newspaper comment forms are bombarded with insults, provocations or threats. Supporters argue it’s about humour, mischief and freedom of speech. But for many, the ferocity and personal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech.
In its most extreme form it is a criminal offence. Last year, Sean Duffy was jailed for 18 weeks after posting offensive messages and videos on tribute pages about young people who had died. One of those he targeted was 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde, who had been killed by a train. ‘I fell asleep on the track lolz’ was one of the messages he left on a Facebook page set up by her family. Colm Coss was jailed for 18 weeks after posting obscene messages on Facebook sites set up in memory of Jade Goody, the Big Brother star, and several other dead people.
Trolling appears to be part of an international phenomenon that includes cyberbul
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