Troll Hunters and Online Abuse

This week BBC Three teamed up with beauty blogger and vlogger, Em Ford (mypaleskin) to create a film highlighting the affect trolls have and exposing the perpetrators.

Em first delved into the realms of online after she began to show images of herself without makeup in her tutorials and showed the impact of the negativity and hate she received through her film, You Look Disgusting which has racked up over 18million views since its release in July 2015. The video sparked a mass call for more to be done for those who send abusive messages online.

1000Credit Em Ford

In the UK alone there were 7,296 counselling sessions with young people who spoke to ChildLine about online bullying and safety last year as well as 1 in 3 children being the victims of cyber abuse according to the NSPCC.

Em sat down with entrepreneur Mylo, who simply stated “Toughen up.” This where my blood began to boil at the disregard of the damaging effect these comments have. He went on to state that these comments are just “criticism” from those “letting off steam” and “you need to learn to laugh it off” …because death threats are hilarious aren’t they? But it’s okay because we just need to “report it to the police and get on with our lives” EYEROLL AND FACE PALM. There’s a big difference between criticism and abuse.

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In the film we learnt of some heart breaking and sickening stories that people have had to deal with because of excessive abuse such as the story of Izzy Dix who committed suicide at 14. Her mother, Gabbi Dix, explained the countless amount of abuse Izzy received on askfm, that moved over to Facebook even after her death. This prompted me to scramble through my old emails and lone and behold I found some ridiculous and hateful askfm’s and tumblr messages of my own and if I’m honest I don’t really know how I managed to deal with some of them. I think my approach was just to ignore and delete, try not to think about it and use the support of those around me.

After much searching and researching a troll’s twitter page, Em and her team managed to track down and confront the man who had been sending abusive messages and pornographic images to Louise Mensch, who made the long trip from New York to London just to confront him much to his surprise. The reasoning behind his actions “Cruella180 is an online persona” with a mission to destroy authority. Long story short, he wanted to provoke a reaction, get blocked and move onto the next target. All of that to be blocked. Was he remorseful? Not in the slightest.

I think that’s what scares me the most. The lack of remorse or awareness of consequence and using a paring of free speech and hiding behind a computer screen as an excuse to act in this way. The telegraph reported that “Five internet trolls a day convicted in UK as figures show ten-fold increase” last year.

The internet is an incredible resource to have. We can build friendships, businesses, raise awareness to social issues that won’t be shown in the mainstream media and find information instantly. It’s very easy to just sweep these issues under the carpet and just say “turn off your phone, it’s not real life!” when these actions cause very real affects. We all have a responsibility to make our online world a safe place.

You can watch the documentary via the BBC Iplayer or on BBC Three.