Trolls beware! The UK is set to take a tougher stance on internet trolling. The once hazy confusion that has been surrounding the problem of how to deal with cases of online harassment, bullying and trolling seems to be clearing as Government officials finally accept what we’ve probably all been thinking for quite some time – that what you say to someone via social media should be treated no differently to what you say to someone in person.
Sending death threats and bombarding someone with vile insults online has the same horrendous consequences as having the bravado to do it face-to-face and should therefore be treated with the same severity.
There’s been a lot of uncertainty about how to tackle trolls because for a long time the internet has been deemed ‘unreal’. Affairs, bullying and crime have all seemed less serious if carried out online rather than in the ‘real world’. However, it’s good to see that people are beginning to realise that the lines that once separated the online world and the real world are becoming increasingly blurred to the point that they are one and the same.
Culture secretary Maria Miller spoke at the Oxford Media Convention this week where in a speech entitled 'The Rights and Responsiblities and the Internet Age', she said: “We have a responsibility to work together to ensure that everyone can approach the internet excited about what we can learn, what we can find, not frightened of where it might lead us. So how should we approach this responsibility?
"The starting point, I would suggest, is a straightforward principle. The internet isn’t a ‘Second Life’, it isn’t something where different rules apply, where different behaviour is acceptable – it isn’t the wild west.
"To put it simply the rules that apply offline are the same rules that apply online. The same rules offline also apply online. This is at its most clear when it comes to the law. If something is illegal offline, it is illegal online. We have laws in this country to protect our freedom… it is no different online.
"If you are vilely insulted, or threatened to attack someone in person on the street, you do so expecting to be arrested or charged. The same applies to social media.
“The veil of anonymity the internet provides may be valuable, but does not give licence to insult, cheat or exploit.”
This is music to my ears! The internet is not a lawless zone and the hurt feelings caused by nasty comments are just as real as they are offline. Hurtful words may be read rather than heard but they end up in the same place – in someone’s head. And they sadly have the same awful consequences when those who find it utterly unbearable can see no other escape from the pain than to end their own lives.
This absolutely has to stop. As incidents of trolling are becoming more and more frequent and widely publicised, society is seeing the need to adapt in order to improve its ability to crack down on trolls, and over 2,000 people were prosecuted for trolling last year.
I hope the situation will improve, and that once people see that trolling is a real world crime with real world punishments, maybe they will think twice about sending foul messages to someone.
Stamping out trolling is one of many reasons that online moderation is so very important. The safety and wellbeing of internet users is something that moderation company Crisp Thinking takes very seriously. Crisp is the only moderation provider to use a clever combination of state-of-the-art technology with highly skilled human moderators to detect not only inappropriate language but also inappropriate behaviour – ensuring unbeatable 24/7 protection from trolls and bullies.
With the culmination of public awareness, Government action and top quality online moderation, it seems that it may only be a matter of time before internet trolls become a thing of the internet’s murky past.
Check out MP Maria Miller's full speech here.