An Internet ‘trolling’ expert will give a talk on the subject at his local library this month.
Jonathan Bishop, from Efail Isaf near Pontypridd, will talk at Pontypridd Central Library on May 22 at 4.30pm.
Mr Bishop, a member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, will give the talk called “Trolls Under the Old Bridge? Internet Trolling in Pontypridd and Beyond“. He will talk about the different types of internet troll based on his new book.
A voluntary worker sacked by a charity he salvaged from extinction has been hailed a hero by an e-learning expert whose career he helped kick off.
Paul Marshallsea, 62, from Merthyr Tydfil, was fired by the Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club following being spotted on holiday in Brisbane Australia. The social entrepreneur, is renowned for founding the Engine House Project under the auspices of Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club. Marshallsea, established this sustainable IT Suite and Sports Hall in an former blast house in a deprived part of Wales, received acclaim from local politicians. He was recorded on camera wrestling with a shark to save children from harm while on his vacation.
Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club, which Marshallsea was on sick leave from, following spells over working over 7 days a week for the benefit of local young people, sacked him on the spot, citing “breach of trust.”
But Jonathan Bishop, who volunteered as an IT instructor under Marshallsea’s supervision following gaining his Masters degree in e-learning, says Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club is out of order. “Paul Marshallsea has probably been one of the hardest working men Merthyr has seen,” he said. “He took me on as a volunteer following a nervous breakdown, meaning I had the experience to become a Chartered IT Professional in 2007.
“Paul is a hero, putting children first, both at the expense of his health at work, and now at the expense of that very job on a holiday recommended by his GP. He should be given an MBE and not a P45!”
A title-winning boxer who allegedly tracked down an Internet troller and threatened to turn up at his door should be prosecuted an Internet trolling expert has said.
Former Sheffield United footballer, Curtis Woodhouse was taunted on Twitter by a so-called troll. The troller told Woodhouse, who is now a boxer, that he should “retire immediately” as he “can’t even defend a pathetic title.“ Woodhouse responded by offering a reward to his Twitter followers if they could help him track down the troller. When he found the identity of the troll he posted messages on Twitter that could be perceived as threatening. Following allegedly locating ‘Jimmyob88‘ to South Yorkshire he said on Twitter he got in his car to “give him a right pasting”. Woodhouse added. “Just on my way to Sheffield to have a little chat with an old friend, get the kettle on.”
Internet trolling expert Jonathan Bishop said Woodhouse was out of order and should be prosecuted. “The messages he (Woodhead) posted on Twitter were menacing and put the troller in fear of violence,” he said. “Under DPP v Chambers, the Doncaster Airport case, Woodhead caused this man apprehension, so should face 6 months prison for each message that made this man feel that way under the Communications Act 2003.”
When he found out about Woodhouse’s plans the man said: “I’m sorry. It’s getting out of hand. I’m in the wrong, I accept that.”
The troller had be mocking Woodhouse for weeks, but Bishop says the boxer should just take it. “If he (Woodhouse) is going to put himself in the public eye, especially on Twitter then he should expect the inevitable abuse that comes with being a public figure in the information age,” he said. “If he can take it in the ring with his fits, he should be equally man enough to take it online with words. He has no right to be a brutal thug that intimidates those who he can’t deal with in the way he wants and how he wants“.
Trolling comes in diverse forms and carries varied magnitude. The Trolling Academy defines trolling as either “cyber bantering” or “cyber trickery”. The former is done in the moment and is quickly regretted, while the latter is tactical, comes without regret and continues via various online channels. Trolling moves into cyber-bulling when it gets strategic – a person goes out of their way to harass – and the worst form of such bullying is called “cyber hickery” or “snerting”, a sustained campaign of domination that targets one or more specific individuals.
‘It’s just exposing the nasty. It’s not bullying you; it’s exposing you for what you are.” So said Charlotte Dawson to her Twitter trolls when confronting them on Australian television.
The New Zealand-born television personality, who was driven to a suicide attempt in August last year because of vicious online abuse, publicly launched a campaign to expose cyber-bullies and trolls. She did so by retweeting offensive messages to her more than 46,000 Twitter followers, and face-to-face confrontation for Australia’s Seven News in October.
“The thing that I got out of visiting these people and them agreeing to talk to us is the fact that their online bravado is completely polar opposite to what they are,” Dawson says in the report.
In response to criticism that the TV report was pure publicity seeking and a form of bullying in itself, Dawson said: “I did the story . . . for a sense of closure and ownership. The message is that if you want that freedom of speech and you want to lash out at people, well, you can be easily traced and if someone wants to find you, they can.”
An internet troll, by definition, is a person who posts seditious, provocative comments on blogs and social media pages to elicit outraged responses.
“Trolling is the posting of provocative or offensive messages electronically such as on the internet for the purposes of entertainment,” says Jonathan Bishop, founder of The Trolling Academy, an initiative based out of Britain’s Swansea University to promote free speech while reducing cyber-bullying.
Remote abuse isn’t new to civilisation, Bishop explains. “Trolling is simply the latest means we use to abuse one another. We have sent hate mail and made abusive phone calls in the past and no doubt there will be a new technology in the future we will use to do the same.”
Trolling and cyber-bullying are related phenomena, although not interchangeable terms, argues David Farrar of the Wellington-based Kiwiblog.
“The intention of the troll is to disrupt, be provocative and get a reaction,” he says. “Trolling can be mixed with bullying, but cyber-bullying requires very personal, very vindictive behaviour; either of someone the bully has met in person, or someone in the public eye where there’s lots of personal information out there about them.”
Cyber-bullying often involves a sustained campaign against an individual, while trolling has no rhyme or reason, says Netsafe’s chief technology officer, Sean Lyons.
“We talk about cyber-bullying being an extension of real-life bullying, whereby a victim is exploited because of a real or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and that victim,” he says.
A troll, conversely, deliberately goes against the grain of the other posts, with a goal of creating outrage among other commenters, Farrar adds. “Trolls say inflammatory things in lots of places: on popular blogs like Kiwiblog, in sections that allow comments on Trade Me, on Facebook and Twitter.
“They’re persistent for one or two reasons. Either they do it simply for the reaction or they use it as a weapon because they’re ideologically against whatever that blog or page is about.”
Any online channel that opens itself up to comments is susceptible to trolling, from forums and news websites to the comments section on video sites such as YouTube.
“It’s difficult to understand the motivations of trolls,” says Lyons. “Some do it because they’ve got an agenda or an opinion contrary to what’s popular. Some do it because they’re angry and spiteful, and some do it just for kicks.”
Trolling begins with de-individualisation, the concept of social psychology thought of as the reduction or loss of one’s self-identity, a virtue made possible by the anonymity of the internet. When our sense of self is pushed aside, we’re much less likely to stick to social norms, manners or even laws.
This anonymity leads to a lack of inhibition, Lyons says. “When we think our actions aren’t traceable, we type things we’d never say face to face.
“We can remove our inhibitions, because we have no connection to the emotions of those we affect.”
Cameron Slater runs the highly read Auckland-based blog Whale Oil Beef Hooked. He has several trolls.
“You’ve got single-issue trolls; they’re dedicated and one-eyed,” he says, noting marriage equality is a favoured topic of his to blog about because of the response it elicits.
“They might be conservative Christians or, on the other side, militant homosexuals. They post frequently whenever a gay marriage post goes live, just to wind everybody else up.”
Some trolls do not fit into this category.
“Random trolls aren’t regular commenters, or they comment under various or changing usernames,” Slater says. “They’re stalky in their behaviour, watching what you write in order to catch you out. When they can latch on to something, they’ll try to hijack the thread.
“You can liken those trolls to the story Three Billy Goats Gruff. They aren’t necessarily bullies; they just want to jump up from their bridge and disrupt what you’re trying to achieve.”
Slater had a vigilant and self- proclaimed troll on his blog, whom he regularly identified by real name to hold him to account for his actions.
“He started as a classic troll: off-topic comments and basic inflammation to counter other comments. He then moved to more personally vindictive behaviour,” says Slater, noting his troll’s move to cyber-bullying.
“In a Facebook poll about US politics, he jumped in to disagree with the post, then said, ‘Have you considered pulling a Charlotte Dawson yet?‘ “That comment was made on World Suicide Prevention Day.
Slater, who “holds grudges” against anyone “with the appalling nature of wishing someone would kill themselves“, then embarked on his own campaign to discredit his troll, tracking him down and confronting him in public.
His troll later apologised and asked for his offensive comments to be removed. Slater refused, saying: “To remove it would only leave an apology hanging without the context in which it was given.”
A world expert on the matter, Bishop has witnessed women with less-than- popular opinions become the subjects of trolling. “We have seen, across the world, how women who utter any controversial opinion can face some of the most vile trolling.
“In the UK, we have had the cases of Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill, and also Mary Beard, who were all subjected to sexist and misogynistic comments.
“The internet has always been hostile to women, as it is was once the preserve of nerdish men, but everyone should be expected to have an opinion without personal attacks for holding it.”
Topically, issues on government, politics, race, and sexuality garner the most troll activity. “Marriage equality has been massive troll bait,” says Slater, referencing his previous comments.
Farrar says his posts about religion always elicit trolls. “I have one troll, who goes by many fake identities, who I call a ‘Christian baiter’. He’ll jump into a post and say something like, ‘All Catholics are paedophiles’, then sit back and revel in the chaos caused.”
Aaron Hape, Wellington-based social media co-ordinator for advocacy group Monarchy New Zealand, often experiences trolling issues on the Monarchy NZ Facebook page.
“Around Queen’s Birthday last year, we got a lot of trolling from New Zealand republicans,” says Hape.
“They were mostly hit-and-run commenters. They jumped into our Facebook conversations and posted negatively about the monarchy, solely because they know most followers of the page are supporters.”
Typecasting the typical troll is difficult. “The presumed profile of the troll is a single, unemployed, overweight white male with two cats,” says Greer Berry, former social media editor of stuff.co.nz.
“But in reality, trolls are working people, and they’re just as likely to be women – though they often go by male usernames online.”
Trolls are also often teenagers or students, as many examples prove. Irish writer Leo Traynor famously confronted his troll, who had hurled anti-Semitic comments on his blog for months, publicly in July, after he traced the troll’s IP address. The troll was a 17-year old boy, who broke down in tears and sobbed, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”
Slater’s troll was a law student. “He was a young NZ First advocate who thought because he could use Facebook, he was technically literate. He thought he was anonymous, and he thought he was bulletproof.
“My guess is he came through school with that kind of behaviour and no-one ever stood up to him.”
Several New Zealanders who regularly exhibit troll-like activity were contacted for comment for this article, but all of them declined or did not reply.
“Being unmasked is the biggest fear of the troll,” says Lyons. “The best thing you can do [to a troll] is ‘call them out’ in a thread. Tell them you know they’re trolling and tell them that conduct isn’t on. Don’t give them the emotional response they seek. If you do this in a calm, un-emotive manner, the troll will lose interest.”
The adage “Don’t feed the trolls” here appears most relevant. “Trolls are only there for the response and the reaction. If ignored, eventually they’ll run out of places to ply their trade.”
Hape actively deletes trolls’ messages on the Monarchy NZ Facebook and Twitter pages.
“We’re a positive organisation for supportive messages,” he says. “There are plenty of other places to be an anti-monarchist.”
Hape doesn’t deny, however, that trolls can be useful. “Trolling really rallies the troops on the other side. This leads to stronger and more concise arguments, which is empowering for an individual and a group.”
Slater agrees having trolls has some benefits. “They generate debate, and they generate activity,” he says. “And from a purely corporate point of view, they generate page views. That’s good for business.”
Lyons wants trolling stamped out. “It’s harmful behaviour, and it’s unacceptable in the real world and shouldn’t be permissible online.”
A set of recommendations has been written by the Law Commission on cyber-bullying, which includes trolling. This has been put to Justice Minister Judith Collins and “we’re not far from a conclusion,” Lyons says.
Across the ditch, the discussion of prosecuting Australian trolls under the law has been raised.
The nation’s so-called “most prolific troll“, New Zealand-born Tristan Barker, is 18 years old. The son of former Split Enz drummer Michael Barker, he is being investigated by the Australian police for online stalking. Via his Facebook and Twitter pages, he has encouraged the harassment of celebrities, Muslims, murder victims and even those who have committed suicide after online bullying.
His personal Facebook page has almost 240,000 likes and he has said “I would consider myself an entertainer”.
Aside from extreme examples, Farrar believes prosecution isn’t necessary in most trolling cases.
“Prosecuting someone under the law for saying nasty things on the internet is excessive, but inciting suicide, like in Charlotte Dawson’s case, crosses the bullying line and is closer to a death threat. That should be punishable offline and online.”
Farrar’s solution is similar to Slater’s: public identification. He even wrote about Slater’s infamous troll on Kiwiblog, also giving the troll’s real name, to further disrepute.
“What makes trolls break down is when you take them from a low profile to a high profile,” he says. “When you blog about them like we did, they suddenly realise that their name will be associated with trolling in Google forever.”
As trolls realise their digital footprint is with them for a lifetime and can negatively affect their real-life reputation and future prospects – whether they are teenagers entering the workforce or 30-somethings looking for a career change – “suddenly, the consequences of trolling are a lot more important“, Farrar says.
“The internet isn’t a place you can hide,” Slater says. “Just look at how we can trace music pirates. Everybody can be found.“
Experts are warning of an “e-safety timebomb” as figures suggest paedophiles are turning to online video and photo-sharing in order to fulfil their sordid desires.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has said that out of 1,145 reports of online grooming last year, only 7% related to trying to meet a child in person, which is down from 12% in 2011.
Jonathan Bishop is an ‘online community sexpert’ and has been studying this type of Internet user since 2008. “These users, known as chatroom bobs, are not abusive to others like Hater trolls, but their actions can be more harmful,” he said. “They will lurk in places of the Internet frequented by children and become really friendly in order to get them to send photos or videos of them that are sexually explicit.”
Chief executive of CEOP Peter Davies agrees with the danger posed by this type of reaction-seeking Internet troller, sometimes simply called ‘bobs.’ “On a daily basis we see the devastation caused to young people’s lives by online grooming,” he said. “What we are seeing is that for a growing proportion of grooming cases reported to the centre, online abuse is an end in itself.”
Bishop, who is an authority on affective computing, has devised a system that can recognise the brain-patterns of online predators. “These peadophillic chatroom bobs, as they are called, usually have elevated dopamine and serotonin levels when thinking about a past trauma,” he said. “Their obsessive thinking around this trauma then leads to abusing minors as a compulsion to avoid dealing the unwanted effects of that trauma on how they see the world.”
Bishop’s system, which was published in the proceedings of the WORLDCOMP conference in 2012, can only go so far he said. “The difference between someone who has faced trauma and abuses and those who do not is a value and belief system,” he said. “Whilst my system can help deal with what caused the person to have paedophilic thoughts, unless their belief system is challenged, such as through cognitive behavioural therapy, then all one is doing is in effect turning the tap off without cleaning up the remaining mess.”
Claire Lilley is from the NSPCC. “Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on a scale never before seen,” she said. “It’s now clear that we are facing an e-safety timebomb, with this being one of the biggest child protection issues of our time.”
As the world is becoming used to Hater Trollers, who post vile messages in order to harass others, new menaces are on the rise taking Internet trolling to a whole new level.
These online sexual harassers are known as ‘chatroom bobs’ and ‘porn e-vengers.’ The former, also known simply as ‘bobs,’ attempt to seduce others to give them something to fulfil their sexual desires – usually asking women for naked pictures. The latter kind, called e-vengers for short, already have a stockpile of images, such as from a previous relationship, which they then make public on Internet websites. One may think of a chatroom bob being a sex predator, and a porn e-venger being someone who ‘kisses-and-tells’ when they have been jilted.
But some victims of these porn e-vengers are fighting back. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against web hosts GoDaddy.com and the website they are hosting, Texxxan.com by many women who have been victims of porn e-vengers. The 17 women’s lawyer, John Morgan, based their claim on breach of privacy. The number of women joining the class-action is increasing week by week.
The litigation documents claim the actions of the porn e-vengers are “designed to cause humiliation and emotional distress”.
“This is a form of cyber human trafficking,” Morgan said. Adding that the porn e-vengers and chatroom bobs acquire “photos of women for the purpose of dehumanising them, for the purpose of degrading them, and they go even further.”
Internet trolling expert, Jonathan Bishop, has been researching e-vengers and chatroom bobs for over 5 years. “There is nothing new about this, as bobs and e-vengers have existed ever since it was first possible to scan and send indecent images via a public communications network,” he said. “Long term campaigns, known as ‘cyberhickery,’ take the form of grooming and e-venging by these individuals respectively, and this form of trolling is only going to increase and will only be solved by people being more responsible in terms of who they trust.”
Bishop says that recent events with the British Royal Family show that no-one is immune from these sex predators. “We just have to look at how celebrities are pursued in long-term campaigns by the paparazzi,” he said. “Through ‘cyberhickery,’ these bobs and e-vengers will go out of they way, often using sophisticated means, to get what they want and do want they want, regardless of the effect it has on others.”
A 27-year-old victim of a porn e-venger and expecting mom Kelly Hinson, told the San Francisco Chronicle that when shopping at a Walmar, a man walked up to her and said, “You’re Kelly, right?” before explaining how he had saved pictures of Hinson on his computer that had been taken by her late ex-boyfriend. “I literally ran off. I ran off,” Hinson said. She reported the incident to the police and also asked two lawyers for help, but her concerns were not taken seriously.
Bishop, who is also a cyberlaw expert, says the legal action against GoDaddy.com is unlikely to succeed. “Section 230 of the US’s Telecommunications Act 1996 clearly states that ‘No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider,’” he said. “The US give free speech a high priority over privacy, but nevertheless it is possible that action against Texxxan may be successful if they are classed as the ‘information content provider,’ but in the US at least, none of its users or suppliers should be liable.”
An internet ‘trolling’ expert who criticised a grieving mother after she came under attack from a Burton man online has now pledged his support to her campaign to have him publicly identified.
Jonathan Bishop, a former Labour councillor in Wales, who regularly writes on the subject, spoke out in support of the ‘troll’ who sent sick messages to Bridget Agar, from Tutbury, following the death of her son, Jordan, in April in a tragic moped accident.
Messages included ‘I’m not dead’ and ‘I’ve gone to hell’, but Mrs Agar was condemned for showing ‘vitriol’ towards the ‘troll’ and that it was just a ‘silly prank’.
The criticism caused yet more heartache for the Agar family in addition to being subjected to the taunts on Facebook and discovering that police would not be bringing any charges against the ‘troll’ and he wouldn’t be identified.
All that was revealed is that he was a 21- year-old man from Burton.
Although standing by his view that a caution was the right decision, Mr Bishop now believes the man should be identified so Mrs Agar can find closure.
He said he hoped a balance could be struck between helping Mrs Agar and not punishing the ‘troll’.
Mrs Agar has set up a petition in a bid to overturn the decision and have her attacker identified, so far gaining more than 400 signatures.
Mr Bishop said: “I am in support of her being given the name but think the caution was proportionate in the circumstances. Many people could get over crime if they knew who had done it to them and meet them face to face.”
“It is in the public interest for this ‘troller’ to be named.
“While I agree a caution was appropriate, justice needs to be done as well.”
However, while pledging his support to Mrs Agar’s campaign to have her attacker identified, Mr Bishop still stands by his view that the punishment fitted the crime.
Despite Mrs Agar’s claims to the contrary, he believes the attack did not cause ‘long-term pain’.
He added: “The attack didn’t continue for longer than 24 hours. He went out of his way to abuse the family but without causing sustained and long-term pain.”
The founder of The Crocels Trolling Academy has signalled his support for the ‘outing’ of the Internet “troll” who targeted the mother of a youth who died following a scooter accident.
Jonathan Bishop says he supports the naming of the troller, who was given a caution for his online abuse of Bridget Agar, “In is in the public interest for this troller to be named,” he said.
Bishop was originally critical of Agar’s position of wanting a heavier penalty for the “troll”, but believed it was only fair for Agar to know who abused her. He said: “Whilst I agree a caution was appropriate, justice needs to be seen to be done as well.”
Since the petition was set up, over 400 signatures have been collected to “name and shame” the troller. Agar said, “The petition is going well. I’ve had a lot of support already and I’m going to get it as widespread as possible.”
People who wish to sign the petition can do so at this address:
The founder of the South Wales-based Crocels Trolling Academy, has thrown his weight around a number of campaigns calling for the release of Matthew Woods.
Matthew Woods, 20, was convicted at Chorley Magistrates Court under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for the posting of offensive jokes about missing 5-year-old April Jones.
Jonathan Bishop, who founded the Trolling Academy in 2011 to promote safety and sociability in cyberspace said that while the jokes were “offensive” that they were not “grossly offensive” and should not have resulted in a conviction.
In the last 24-hours two campaigns have launched, one an independent group on Facebook called ‘Free Matthew Woods’ and another supported by the 38Degrees campaign called ‘Protect Internet Freedom – Free Matthew Woods’.
Jonathan Bishop says much worse things are said on Twitter and Facebook every day, “If you follow professional comedians like Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr on Twitter, it is unlikely a day will go by where you won’t be offended,” he said, “Having a Masters of Law and being a trolling law expert, my faith in the judiciary to make fair and legal decisions is diminishing fast.”