Lawyers describe internet trolling as the first cousin of online harassment
Internet trolling is the act of making unsolicited, persistent random comments in an online community to provoke emotion and reaction. Online trolls often intend to seek attention by causing upset, alarm and distress in people, whilst hiding behind (somewhat naively) their screens.
Internet trolling is the act of someone making unsolicited random comments in an online community (social media platforms, forums, blogsites) that are controversial, in order to provoke emotion and reaction and if you are a target of internet trolling, we have no doubt that you may be experiencing anger, anxiety, stress, health problems, sleep issues and deep concerns about all areas of your life, along with the worry about how to get help from someone who understands what is happening as well as dealing with it with legal tools.
Nearly always, online trolls carry out their electronic assaults on their victims on more than two occasions (web pages are being constantly refreshed) their intention is to cause alarm and distress in the victim. Causing alarm and distress can be considered as criminal and civil harassment.
There are many variations of the types of trolling that is occurring online but the bottom line is that if you are being trolled online and you are distressed, this is harassment regardless of the methods used by your online trolls. Many victims of online trolling state that feeling distressed and alarmed is an understatement when it comes down to the experience of being a victim of online trolling. Every internet troll has a different backstory and therefore different reasons for feeling the need to troll a community or an individual, or feel that they are connecting to someone in the public eye, albeit in a negative way.
As a general rule, if online trolls get a response or reaction, the reaction becomes their motive to continue with their trolling activities. You should therefore be advised to not engage with internet trolls, regardless of how tempting the desire to respond to your trolls might be.
Online trolling is hard to ignore when you have been affected by it, directly. It is easy to say that it would be best to ignore online trolls and you could choose to not respond to the online troll, if they try to provoke you.
You might however, feel that engaging with online trolls is not worth your time, energy and emotional distress. However, if you have been embarrassed in front of your peers, supporters or family and friends, or if you feel that you should be responding to comments made by the troll as a matter of principle, it is best that you take a short break before engaging with the troll.
At the same time, you might surmise or make excuses for perpetrators of online trolling. You might feel that your troll may be a very sad individual that feels depressed, attention-starved, angry, jealous or narcissistic.
The reality is that every engagement is likely to result in further engagement on their part. Online trolls usually are not entirely conscious of what's influencing their online behaviour so the consequences of an engagement by you with a conversation with them could result in an unpredictable behaviour. If you ignore the troll, it is very possible that your troll may get bored by your lack of response to their conduct of harassing you online.
Although it is very understandable why you might wish to try to intellectually engage with your online troll, you must remember that any engagement on your part could negate the possibility of successfully prosecuting your online troll for harassment. The reason for this is that an important element of harassment is that the victim is being subjected to unwanted communication. If you engage with your online troll in some way, your engagement invites communication.
Our advice therefore is to ask your troll to leave you alone, only once. If your internet troll persists, you must make a careful decision as to how you wish to move forward.
Harassment is a serious criminal offence. The effects of being a victim of online harassment is very serious. Your internet troll's use of slanderous, slurring words towards you can result in their prosecution for harassment, provided you conduct yourself in the right way.
Victims of internet trolling who eventually seek legal advice, have in many cases been severely affected by their trolls and their threatening, invasive, ubiquitous and malicious behaviour. Some trolls could be extremely pernicious that they are capable of invading their victim's lives and evoke great fear and anxiety in them. So much so, that the lives of victims of online trolling could be affected day and night.
Some trolls have deployed abusive tactics, like obtaining and distributing personal information, home addresses and places that our clients have frequented. Internet trolls, who trolled some of our clients have hacked into email and social media accounts and stole and posted private, intimate photos. They have created websites with malicious content, causing their victims to feel that their lives are completely hijacked.
Particularly with our celebrity clients, internet trolls have acted as supporters or fans and then used hostility in the form of constructive criticism, like offering advice how to present themselves better, all designed to undermine and degrade as they bombard our clients continuously. Some have later on turned into cyberstalkers and serial harassers.
There have been psychologically manipulative versions, where serial trolls presented false information or created a false narrative with inflammatory comments to their victims. Having befriended their victim and gained their trust, the online trolls have caused their victim to doubt their professional knowledge, skills, memories and perception and self esteem. Private information relating to the victim was then shared across multiple platforms, causing them a great deal of harassment and distress.
Dogpiling is a term used where groups of trolls have worked together, using many tactics to overwhelm our clients with humiliation. These cyber mobs have used questions, threats and insults, clogging up our clients' social accounts, trying to silence and discredit them.
Online trolling, in all its variations, is one of the most pervasive forms of online harassment. For someone who is in the public eye and/or use social media accounts for their career, becoming the targets of these widespread inflammatory, hate-filled trolling campaigns of harassment is particularly devastating.
It is possible to track down and identify most internet trolls. Internet trolls often take risks or if they do not, they often become complacent or are over protective of their identity to the extent that they leave unintentional footprints behind them.
We have helped many people achieve freedom from their trolls. We have tracked the trolls that thought they were safely hiding behind their screens. We have made them accountable and have attained injunctions against the trolls to make sure they stop. In many cases we have claimed damages for our clients to ensure that they are compensated for some of the distress caused and to make a point, to the online troll that there are consequences to their actions.
In some cases, the first step we have taken, before we even identified the online troll was to obtain an injunction against the trolls to ensure that their harassment stopped and that all the evidence against them was preserved by the social media company.
If you are being trolled online and need help and support, seek legal advice, from us or from another expert law firm. You can call us free, on 0800 612 7211. This will be the first step in gaining your life back and removing the distress that the internet trolls are causing you.