Think before you send your vicious comments to writers or public figures on the Internet- while you may believe you can hide behind privacy laws and the first amendment for anything nasty and unwarranted you deem necessary to post, that may no longer be the case. As Slate reports, Carla Franklin sued her trolls after, “being repeatedly called a whore.” Now, the rude commenter will have to reveal his (or her) identity to the world.
A former model also sued and won after being called a skank by an anonymous blogger as some judges are forcing writers (and commenters) to reveal their names so that defamation suits can be filed.
Not all lawsuits have resulted in victories for those who were trolled. In 2008, a California appeals court reserved the right of anonymous commenters to “flame” in comment sections and message boards after a woman and her company were anonymously trolled on the Internet- the comments were extremely offensive and went beyond reviewing her company, but she still lost in court.
Fortunately, the courts are not the only place to fight trolls. In a Wired magazine article, the writer discusses how algorithms are now being designed to search out phrases and words that indicate that a comment is irrelevant to the discussion or is too negative for the particular forum or comment section. In addition, some of the algorithms can actually determine the mood of the person leaving comments, which could then be indicated by cute, little emoticons next to the posters’ name or comment. If the post is seen by the program as too inflammatory, it can be deleted or ignored.
THIS SITE gives information on how to identify a troll and while the site is a little humorous in nature, it recognizes the sad reality that most trolls face- they have nothing better to do with their time than to stalk ordinary writers/vloggers and the occasional celebrity. In addition, trolls are usually not all that genius as is indicated by the obviousness of their comments. Most Youtube comment threads demonstrate the lack of intelligence of the average troll fairly easily.