There can be no denying that The Sun loves a good witch hunt. Whether they are searching the bushes of the local park for paedophiles or stealing chocolate from kids who are too fat and giving it to kids who are too skinny, you can always rely on a Newscorp publication to the be the moral barometer for the nation.
With their new ‘Target a Troll’ campaign the ever-considerate and benevolent folks at Sun HQ have made it their mission to stop people saying nasty things on the internet. After this presumably they will try to stop teenage boys from masturbating and then perhaps they could stop the British summer from being disappointing.
One can’t help but wonder if the great minds behind this campaign have ever actually been on the internet. Aside from its primary function as a giant pornographic library, the internet provides the perfect medium for strangers to insult each other from the privacy of their own home. You merely have to peruse the comments section on any YouTube video to realise that trolling has replaced football as the new British pastime.
Now let’s get one thing clear, the first two ‘targets’ of the campaign have been particularly nasty pieces of work. One created a Facebook group called ‘If I get one million likes I will let Maddie go’ the other repeatedly mocked the families of several dead children. Clearly these charmers aren’t going to win the Perrier award for their subtle brand of comedy. But at least what they did wasn't as offensive as actually hacking into the phones of the families of the, urm, oh.
After this presumably they will try to stop teenage boys from masturbating and then perhaps they could stop the British summer from being disappointing.
Whilst few people would feel the urge to defend these alleged ‘Trolls’ it is important to ask if the good folks at Newscorp actually understand what an internet troll really is. These two aren’t trolls at all, they’re just morons with a broadband connection, which pretty much covers everyone online right now (sorry, but if you use the expression 'LOL' then that makes you a moron).
There is much more to it than simply being offensive to the recently bereaved, trolling is an art form. A master troll is in many ways like his mythical namesake, waiting in darkness for his perfect victim before pouncing and inflicting as much suffering as possible. A Troll finds a post, blog entry or video and begins to argue with such pedantic skill as to force the victim to explode in a ball of frustrated rage. If Oscar Wilde were alive today he would most certainly be a troll.
Ultimately this whole debacle finds us once again wading into the murky waters of free speech. No one likes the idea of censorship, especially not on the internet, but the sad fact remains that there is always a minority of idiots ready to ruin it for the rest of us. People who lack a basic sense of human empathy, these people include the idiots that started those offensive Facebook groups, Jeremy Kyle and of course former Sun columnist Richard Littlejohn.
Being a writer I have found myself the victim of trolling on many occasions, some of it cutting on a deeply personal level. But did I feel the urge to run into the nearest internet café and explain, in the most patronising way possible to anyone who would listen, that we should all be nice to each other? No, I did not.
In short I say this to Rupert Murdoch and the editors of The Sun, stick to what it is you do best; celebrity adulterers, phallic vegetables, X Factor and the ongoing tragedy that is Jordan. Don't go picking fights that you won’t be able to win. On its website the Sun claims that “If you come across a troll, DON’T react – they thrive on fury.” Which seems odd as this is exactly the advice I would normally give in regards to reading the Sun. Trolls, do your worst.
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