December 31, 2012

Are trolls killing the internet?

'Trolling' subjects web users to often offensive content, threatening speech.

Social media networks and online discussion forums are often the site of cruel, crude and hurtful comments left by people who identify themselves as “trolls.” Their main purpose is to provoke outrage and generate attention for their exploits, which include posting malicious comments on Facebook memorial pages or aggressively harassing just about anyone who uses the internet.

The spread of trolling culture has prompted discussions on free speech and whether such bad behaviour online needs to be policed. So why is online trolling is so prevalent? And which is more at fault for its spread, the internet or society?

In this episode of The Stream, we speak to:

Aaron James
Associate Professor of Philosophy, UC Irvine

Whitney Phillips @wphillips49
Lecturer, New York University

Members of The Stream community also join us via Google+ hangout.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.