Sites such as Facebook, online forums, blogging sites and newspapers comments have all become a platform and a stage to bombard people with insults, provocations and insulting threatening language. This causes huge distress to the recipient of such messages. Supporters of trolling see it has harmless fun but for the majority of people it affects, it is far from fun.
Trolling is a form of baiting online which involves sending abusive and hurtful comments across all social media platforms. It is another term used for bullying as no matter how you dress it up, it incites people to make comments to people that elicit further comments such as “go away and die” or “you are so disgusting, I hate seeing you around”. The messages are meant to cause the most distress they can and no consideration is given to the victims by the people who troll online. Trolls go to great lengths in making their messages as hurtful as they can so that the recipient of the messages that are sent believe and are convinced that what has been said is true. The difficulty is that most of the people who troll online send the messages anonymously and therefore makes it difficult to identify who the sender is. The person on the receiving end of these comments often feels isolated and does not tell anyone that they have been receiving such distressing messages.
Most, if not all, messages sent to cause distress, are linked up to Facebook. For instance, Ask.fm can be directly linked to Facebook, so any message sent to a person being bullied via Ask.fm, will automatically feature on the wall of their Facebook account. This adds to the distress felt by the recipient of the message as it can be viewed by a mass audience, some of which, even though they may be deemed to be ‘friends’, will join in with the abusive messages.
The internet is governed in the UK by the Communications Act 2003 and also covers messages sent by text, e-mails and mobile phone calls. Under Section 127 of the Act, it states that it is an offence to send messages that are ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.’