back to article UK to hold public consultation on social-media troll prosecutions

Mainstream and local press have covered trolling cases on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites into an inch of their life this year as public outrage about the phenomenon has led to some UK folk being arrested under suspicion of malicious communications offences. As a result, the director of public prosecutions Keir …

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  1. davefb
    Meh

    So if .

    john terry had said what he allegedly said ( or is it fact now, not sure) on a tweet, it would have been okay?

    It has to be the 'pub test', if tom daley walked past and you shouted what was tweeted in front of people, would that be acceptable?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: So if .

      "It has to be the 'pub test'"

      In the local wetherspoons probably not, in our local "cricketers arms" then yes. We call asif "blackie" because thats how he introduced himself to us years ago. Born and bred in Blackburn he is referred to as blackie not because he is asian and mildy dark. Context is appropriate.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "into an inch of their life"

    What does that even mean?

    The phrase you were looking for is "to within an inch of their life".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I still allowed to talk about my buddies hidden desire to eat poo and make love to animals? Does this all only apply to rich people and emotionally weak people or does it cover normal people too?

    If an emotionally weak person reads me deriding my buddy for loving the delicious feeling of being poo smothered and storing poo filled condoms in the freezer am I in trouble? I don't know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If someone like that is a "buddy' you've got more than just annoying tweets to worry about...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What about the guy that faps to zombies?

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          What about the guy that faps to zombies?

          They made an animé of that - Sankarea.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Dodgy Geezer

            Well that's unfortunate, I'll just have to write it into 50,000 word prose and have it published on kindle and apple ebooks instead.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I liked Sankarea even if it was a total troll end. Though not a patch on Amnesia of the same season, god damn troll end.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Ummm.... No

      "...Am I still allowed to talk about my buddies hidden desire..."

      ... you're not. There is already a sort of 'depraved practices' law which defines acceptable sexual practice, as specified by the Home Office.

      And the recent finding by judges that even one-to-one conversations count as 'publishing' mean that, if you talk to your buddy about anything not on the HO 'allowed sex' list, you will find yourself on the sexual offenders list, banged up in Broadmoor and provided with free chemical castration by experimental psychiatrists pretty sharpish...

      Keep Britain Clean - that's what I say! No punishment is too extreme for these damn preverts...

  4. Gnomalarta
    Mushroom

    Play With Alligators Expect To Get Bitten

    In a decade we will look back at the current 'social' 'media' with a sardonic grin.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you can't stand the heat...

    ...get out of the blogosphere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you can't stand the heat...

      If you don't like to see children bullying each other, stay out of the playground.

  6. Zombie Womble

    Legislating against hurty feelings is the epitome of a nanny state.

    What next? The ministry of 'There, there. let me kiss it better.'

  7. James 100

    Freedom of speech v the law

    I dislike the very attempt to draw a line of where speech is "offensive enough" to be illegal. The crime should require causing substantial harm or fear - not calling somebody rude names, even if they are really really rude. Saying that the Prime Minister is a waste of oxygen, or that his predecessor doesn't have the management skills to run a bath, should be fine - as should saying I'd like to break the legs of either or both: it isn't an actual threat.

    Now, if I sent either of them a message saying I was going to maim them, that's cause for the police to get involved - but calling somebody names, however nasty, should not be.

    1. Steve 6

      Re: Freedom of speech v the law

      At the risk of making things awkward for El Reg.....

      I just want to check, and I would like those who upvoted you to answer too:

      Would you have NOT acted in this case:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/13/internet-troll-jailed-mocking-teenagers

      If 'not', do you think your opinion in this case reflect that of society in general?

      1. Steve 6

        Re: Freedom of speech v the law

        How topical - here's another example:

        http://news.sky.com/story/987323/shot-pcs-man-arrested-over-facebook-page

        So, would James 100, and the upvoters of his comment, say that no action was needed against that example of trolling?

        1. Nanki Poo
          Boffin

          Re: Freedom of speech v the law

          @ Steve 6

          The problem is, all the naffy stuff drowns out the serious stuff.

          On the other hand, the case you highlight is covered by many laws that have existed in <legal> perpetuity almost. Maybe the CPS should be going for 'old-fashioned', well precedented charges, rather than new sexy ones except for where it's really relevant (thus putting their efforts into investigating the real boundaries of the issue).

          When it is genuinely a new situation, yes consider the facts. Not whether it's 'offensive', but whether it was harrassment, incitement, etc. Your example is a good one, but I wonder if those connected will be prosecuted for some language to offend kind of thing, rather than the incitement to harm it may be (I myself have not seen the page). If they are guilty of the latter, it is a travesty if they stand trial for the former. Lower sentence for a start.

          See the harm in unnecessary 'sexy' laws . . . they have a way of being used inappropriately . . .

          nK

      2. edge_e
        Thumb Down

        Re: Freedom of speech v the law

        Steve,

        Whilst I don't think that kind of behaviour is acceptable, do you really believe it deserves jail time?

        He'd have got off lighter if he'd burgled their houses.

        Once you start jailing people for what they say, you end up on a very slippery slope.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/south_yorkshire/8673196.stm

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16810312

        1. Steve 6

          Re: Freedom of speech v the law

          I haven’t stated or discussed whether or not those examples deserves jail time (my direct answer to that would be ‘probably not in those particular cases’; however, if there were elements of stalking or seemingly genuine threats then possibly). However, I am claiming that such behaviours must not be allowed and cannot go unpunished.

          So, do you believe those examples show allowable behaviour? Do you defend them of condone them?

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Freedom of speech v the law

            Being a tasteless twat should not be a criminal offence. I support the right to have free speech, regardless of how offensive. Hurt feelings should not, in a free society, make a criminal of the originator of the comments. I don't believe in the concept of "incitement", either - if someone willingly and without duress acts on another's words, it is the actor, not the speaker, who is responsible.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              Re: Freedom of speech v the law

              To put it another way, we could clear up a lot of unnecessary statutes by saying that, if there is a subjective element to the perceived problem (including "likely to .."), it is not the remit of the criminal law, but of the common law (torts, specifically).

            2. Steve 6

              Re: Freedom of speech v the law

              Just to check:

              Do you support the right to do these (below), without fear of reprisal or punishment:

              http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/13/internet-troll-jailed-mocking-teenagers

              http://news.sky.com/story/987323/shot-pcs-man-arrested-over-facebook-page

              ?

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: Freedom of speech v the law

                I assume you are asking me. I thought I had been clear, but, if you want a one word answer - Yes.

                1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                  Re: Freedom of speech v the law

                  To be clearer, behaviour can be modified in many different ways. To use the criminal law because someone is offended is a gross misuse of the State's power. Let people deal with it through private law if that is what they want to do.

                  1. Steve 6

                    Re: Freedom of speech v the law

                    Thank you. Your one word "yes" is clear enough". You should also appreciate that such an answer also negates the possibility of action through private law. My question had on association with private or criminal law; it was actually "without fear of reprisal or punishment:" (possible action through private law does not count as 'without fear of reprisal or punishment:').

                    So, to confirm my understanding: you really would allow, without fear of reprisal or punishment (in any form), people to desecrate personal online memorial and shrines even though they are being as nasty, persistent and personal as possible?

                    I've addressed the issue of private law lower down in this thread.

    2. Roger Mew

      Re: Freedom of speech v the law

      I tell policeman for example that they are the vilest form of dog policeman and that they policeman animals, so that makes them policeman policeman policeman, ugh!!

      So the next time you want to say fcuk it say policeman!

      So you see its not in a policeman word that you policeman use, its what it was policeman intended for.

      So the question has to policeman asked, what the policeman is the policeman limit.

  8. Crisp

    So where exactly are they drawing the line?

    Offence is subjective. Telling one person that they suck might be construed as a criticism, to another person, it might be an offensive put down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: So where exactly are they drawing the line?

      Or it might be a compliment. I've know people who were proud of such skills.

  9. ukgnome
    Facepalm

    Twatter

    It's a tricky one, especially as the "banter" that the sub thirty lot dole out is very abusive and borderline criminal. And quite a lot of porn is also now on twitter

    Whilst it may be acceptable within your social circle to call someone a peado it may be deemed offensive to others reading the message. Twitter seems to be full of hate these days, and flaming the trolls has little or no effect. Also the actual tools of twitter seem a bit light touch. You could block the individual, but they could create a second or third account and continue where they left off. Alternatively you can send a spam report to twitter, but by definition they are not spamming you. Maybe twitter needs another option to report as offensive.

    Not that it would work, not with things hash tags like #thingsinyourfannythursday where a young lady posts images that are NSFW and #thisguysacun.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Twatter

      I saw a nice quote the other day "People that want to be offended will be" at the end of the day the problems aren't insurmountable what with being able to block and set accounts to private and shock horror, leaving the service and but if a person is reading someones feed and they don't know them then that's their problem, and if a person is following a hash tag that's going to offend them then they should be punished for being a dick

      1. ukgnome

        Re: Twatter

        If I try and defame you using social media then according to the law of this land I have committed an offence. Even if I don't know that a law has been broken.

        If I send you a message publicly that I think you are a paedophile then you have the right push for some form of punishment.

        The top 3 that you can be prosecuted under are -

        Protection from Harassment Act 1997

        Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994

        Malicious Communications Act 199

        but can also include

        Public Order Act 1986

        Now we all know that the law can be an ass, because it can never take into account the fact that I also talk to you like that and you usually don't mind. The fact is, you don't actually have to mind as this was sent publicly so only a busy body needs to take offence. Essentially to stay the right side of the law don't put something out into the community that is wrong, criminal, slanderous or likely to cause offence.

        1. corestore

          Re: Twatter

          You can add the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1993(?) to that list. That's the act that they're attempting to grossly misuse in relation to the Ched Evans rape case tweets. The wording of the act, and the intent when it was passed, was very clear: it was about controlling the broadcast media under editorial control - newpapers, radio, and TV. It was never intended to apply to gossip, which is what Twitter is the electronic equivalent of.

          Not defending the abusive twit(er)s, but this is pretty disturbing.

          I've written further about this: http://www.corestore.org/LC.htm

          Mike

  10. edge_e
    Flame

    EULA

    You have every right to be offended by what i say, you also have every right not to listen to it.

    By choosing to listen, you are agreeing not to be offended by it.

    That's how it works isn't it?

    or as we said when we were 5

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me

    Get thicker skins people

    1. Steve 6

      Re: EULA

      How do you not 'listen' (or whatever) to trolling? Don't you have to read something first to determine what it is?

      Also, what if the trolling is on your own sincere website/thread, should you roll over and give up on that too and allow the disruption? If so, why?

      Choose not to be a waste of life, people

      1. edge_e

        Re: EULA

        Not listening is a skill that , in my experience, everybody exercises on a daily basis. The ears process the sounds or the eyes scan the text but the brain ceases to process the information because it doesn't fit with the world view it's created.

        Getting upset by words is a choice you make yourself.

        1. Steve 6

          Re: EULA

          Then you haven't listened either ;)

          Yes, being offended is ususally a choice, but as I said earlier (timewise) in this thread: being deliberately offensive is also a choice.

          Also, you didn't answer either of my questions.

      2. edge_e

        Re: EULA

        what if the trolling is on your own sincere website/thread?

        There are many options open to you. If it's your own website and censorship's your thing, you could pre moderate every comment or you could delete those you don't like after the fact.

        Personally I find if you don't feed the trolls, they get bored and go away.

        I've not, at any point, suggested you should roll over and give up.

        1. Steve 6

          Re: EULA

          "I've not, at any point, suggested you should roll over and give up."

          Not you, but others have said it: "...get out of the blogosphere." "stay out of the playground."

          Personally I find if you don't feed the trolls, they get bored and go away."

          Then you've not encountered a real one; the nastier trolls create attention. Besides, trolls don't die, they go elsewhere for their attention.

          To get to the point: are you actually saying society should not take any lawful action against these sickos?

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/13/internet-troll-jailed-mocking-teenagers

          http://news.sky.com/story/987323/shot-pcs-man-arrested-over-facebook-page

          Do you really believe trying to ignore these guys is the best way forward? Really? If so, do you believe the general public would support you on that?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A person *decides* to be offended. The law will have trouble with this one because there is no objective test for offensiveness of content...it's 100% subjective.

    Best story subheading evar.

    1. Steve 6

      Missed the point

      You are right to say there is no reliable, foolproof test for the potential for offence. However, this completely misses the point.

      The trolling that is being reigned in is really, really obvious attempt at strong and continued offence. Surely you don't need a test for the "X Factor" case", do you? Do you need a test for the 'Natasha MacBryde/Sean Duffy' case too?

      Isn't it cases as clear-cut as those that people are concerned about?

      1. edge_e

        Re: Missed the point

        Let's talk about clear cut. It's clear cut in many middle east countries that blasphemy is punishable by death.

        Saying "I don't believe in god" is deemed to be offensive.

        I hope that you agree that this is ridiculous.

        I hope to persuade you that by allowing popular opinion to decide what is or isn't offensive will end up in a similar place.

        1. Steve 6

          Re: Missed the point

          You picked a really bad example: one that is invalid outside of this country and its laws.

          I gave two very relevant/pertinent examples earlier:

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/13/internet-troll-jailed-mocking-teenagers

          http://news.sky.com/story/987323/shot-pcs-man-arrested-over-facebook-page

          Do you think the UK populous would generally be so agreeing to let these perpetrators go without taking at least some action against them?

          1. edge_e

            Re: Missed the point

            I don't think my example was bad. It is a law that is based purely on causing offense. It would seem that a large proportion of the people in these countries agree that it's offensive.

            This is where laws against causing offense will lead.

            As for the two examples provide you provided,

            The first, i think, is bad behaviour. It's childish and shows that the perpetrator could do with some education.

            It does not, in my opinion, warrant a criminal conviction.

            The second example is different because, as already pointed out in this forum, inciting others to commit violence is already a crime.

            As far as I'm aware though, it's easy to ignore a facebook group.

            1. Steve 6

              Re: Missed the point

              “I don't think my example was bad. It is a law that is based purely on causing offense. It would seem that a large proportion of the people in these countries agree that it's offensive.”

              The potential for offence varies on a national basis.

              “The first, ... It does not, in my opinion, warrant a criminal conviction.”

              Possibly, but you do condemn it, right? It is causing grave offence (however you define it), right? Society should take steps to prevent this, right?

              "The second ... it's easy to ignore a facebook group.”

              What if the group was YOUR OWN, for your own child, as it was in one of the examples: “targeted Facebook tribute pages”

              And it seems you are another who believes one should “roll over and give up”, is that correct?

              1. edge_e

                Re: Missed the point

                The potential for offence varies on a national basis.

                It varies on all kinds of basis, and that's a large part of my point.

                Possibly, but you do condemn it, right?

                Condemn is not a word I'd use, but I do agree that it's not an acceptable way to behave.

                It is causing grave offence (however you define it), right?

                No, I doubt that if i was on the receiving end of this that I would be gravely offended.

                Society should take steps to prevent this, right?

                I agree with the words you've used here. Yes society should take steps to prevent this from happening. Here's that word again; education.

                And it seems you are another who believes one should “roll over and give up”, is that correct?

                No, I just think some things aren't worth getting that upset about. It is, after all, just letters arranged in a particular order.

                The world would be a much nicer place if people could accept that others have different views to their own rather than punching them, shooting them or insisting they be locked up.

                1. Steve 6

                  Re: Missed the point

                  "No, I doubt that if i was on the receiving end of this that I would be gravely offended."

                  Do you think your opinion on that reflects that of general society, or do you fall well outside of social norms? Please use the given example as a reference. Don't forget that troll tried to be as offensive as possible. I would most certainly be most offended in that scenario.

                  "education".

                  So what do you propose? How should that be deployed? Do you really believe trolls would respond to 'advice' in threads they are trying to derail? I don’t think so!

                  "No, I just think some things aren't worth getting that upset about. It is, after all, just letters arranged in a particular order.

                  No, it is letters arranged entirely with the motivation of causing maximum offence, again and again and again.

                  Do you think desecration of a shrine, even an online one, is not worth getting upset about? As an example: would you or your mother really not mind if I rearranged the letters on your father’s tombstone to read something like "killed by AIDS from bum sex with his HIV+ son, ha haa" It's only letters after all - right?

                  "The world would be a much nicer place if people could accept that others have different views to their own rather than punching them, shooting them or insisting they be locked up."

                  Is trolling simply "having different views"? Perhaps you need to consider those examples again! Indeed, the world would be a nice place without the trolls, trying to get others to punch them!

                  1. edge_e

                    Re: Missed the point

                    Steve,

                    No, i doubt that my point of view is shared by the majority of society. I think it's sad that my fellow human beings are so vindictive.

                    My reference to education is not how to deal with it after the fact , but rather to stop it happening in the first place.

                    The example you give is now vandalism. It's childish, not offensive. My only concern would be how much it's going to cost to fix.

                    1. edge_e

                      Re: Missed the point

                      Having given it some thought, I think childish or hypocritical would serve my purposes better than vindictive.

                      I'll return once again to the playground where little Johnny runs to him mum saying "mum, mum, Jimmy called me an idiot!"

                      Now I'm pretty sure the near universal response to this is "Nevermind Johnny, ignore him."

                      I think this is good advice.

                      How many parents would go to the police about the above incident?

                      Since Johnny is clearly offended, how is this any different?

          2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Missed the point

            Steve - why does what the majority want make it right? The general public are very often totally wrong, because they do not have the educational wherewithal to see the broader picture (a failing of government to provide adequate educational provision).

            1. Steve 6

              Re: Missed the point

              “why does what the majority want make it right?”

              As I said elsewhere: would you prefer that kind of power to be in the hands of the few “idiot legislators and godlike executive powers”

              "THE general public are very often totally wrong”

              Indeed we are (even me :) ), but the legislators can be, not just wrong, but outright conflicted.

              Moreover, governments seek to expand themselves, so I reckon if you left it up to the authorities, we would all have to surf with our real identities – just like China.

              Do you really want to risk this?

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: Missed the point

                No: see y comments above about this being nothing to do with legislators looking towards the next election. If you are offended enough to demand satisfaction, put your money where your mouth is and sue through private law channels.

                1. Steve 6

                  Re: Missed the point

                  Why go through the pain of private law? Have you any idea of how protracted/complicated/expensive these routes can be to the victims? Haven't the victims suffered enough at the hands of these nasty, persistent idiots? Why make the victims jump through hoops to stop something that is obviously idiotic, vile and waaaay oversteps reasonable social boundaries? And for what? To help defend the rights of hostile, anti-social f***wits intent on causing maximum possible offence and upset?

  12. Nev Silver badge
    Coat

    "Your mother was an 'amster and your father smelt of elderberries..."

    At least a couple of years inside for anyone using that kind of hurtful taunt, I'd say.

  13. Steve 6

    A person does indeed choose to be offended. However, the offender also chooses to offend.

    If the offender realises they are being offensive, then they deserve punishment. If the offender doesn’t realise they are being offensive, then they could well be sociopathic and need to seek help.

    Anyway, why do people feel the need to cause offence? Is there really nothing better to do in life?

    If society decides that an act is offensive, then it is an offensive act, regardless of what a few insistent individuals say.

    I for one welcome the new accountability we have: we have the freedom to post whatever we want and we can do so anonymously, but a troll will be hunted and held to account if they overstep the generally accepted mark. It is either that or it won’t be long before the calls to totally regulate the use of the internet reaches a tipping point, then all of us will lose our anonymity and everyone will always be forced to be utterly polite. Left unchecked, trolls undermine freedom of speech.

    Watch as the childish trolls downvote

    1. NukEvil
      Trollface

      Oh, really?

      Ahh, so you believe that normal citizens should be held to accountability on what they say on the internet, yet the ruling class that dictates what is "offensive" and what is not should be free of this sort of accountability? Because, once you start legislating something that can never be objective, you lose the ability to hold the legislators accountable for their actions. If the ruling class (or anybody else, for that matter) cannot handle the internet, it would be best if they simply stayed off the internet. No one's forcing anybody to read anything posted online.

      Also, if someone is recognized as a troll in an online community, then it should be left up to that community to correct the problems that troll may bring with him/her. A simple e-mail/private message to a site administrator should be enough to erase all records of that troll's existence on that site. Don't being legislation onto the internet. The internet was designed to route around anything that slows it down/stops it, and legislation definitely slows any process down, and stops others. Legislation will be useless, here.

      " Left unchecked, trolls undermine freedom of speech."

      No, idiot legislators and godlike executive powers undermine freedom of speech. And idiots like you who believe everything your nanny state tells you.

      1. Chris Rowland

        Re: Oh, really?

        The Internet is part of the real world. The consequences of abuse on the internet should be just the same as in the real world. People's actions on the internet have real world consequences.

        Saying something in a public place on the internet should be the same as saying it in public elsewhere.

        Suggesting that a group should police itself does not work. I have seen groups destroyed by lack of moderation. I have withdrawn from groups because I can't stand the trolls. In at least one case the moderators were the worst offenders.

        Why should reasonable people be driven off the internet because of the actions of people who seem to think it funny to abuse people? Why should we be punished for their actions?

        1. Zombie Womble

          @Chris Rowland

          So, you want people to be fined/jailed because you joined the wrong forum and didn't have mummy there to protect you?

        2. NukEvil
          Trollface

          Re: Oh, really?

          So you're saying that, because you had the misfortune of joining an online community, then got run off by trolls, that nobody should have the right to say what they want to online? I'm willing to bet you were one of the trolls in those communities, and someone else simply out-trolled you. And saying that a group policing itself doesn't work because a few groups refused to police themselves is like saying we should abolish law enforcement because law enforcement agencies in certain other countries don't protect their citizens.

          "Why should reasonable people be driven off the internet because of the actions of people who seem to think it funny to abuse people? Why should we be punished for their actions?"

          If reasonable people give up the internet because of something someone said to them online, then they're not reasonable people. And why should I be punished for your inability to form an abstract thought?

          http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Society/Pix/pictures/2010/4/21/1271861774568/Crying-Baby-001.jpg

          Grow some thicker skin, and stop trying to shoehorn your wrong ideas into polite society.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: once you start legislating something

        Legislation is already in place to deal with this sort of case, as has been seen - it's just a matter of defining policies for prosecution and sentencing. Serious trolls should expect fines and community service if they choose to harass and defame ordinary people.

      3. Steve 6
        FAIL

        Re: Oh, really?

        To undo your pathetic ad hominem: I actually actively campaign against some aspects of what our government tells us (yes anonymously – I like this), which I suspect is more than you do. So no, I reject the ‘nanny state’. Perhaps you aren't trolling, who knows; this is the problem. This is why I don't bother posting so much these days, because it is difficult to know what comments are sincere.

        Another example: I said “society” which you seem to have translated to “ruling class”, and yet you call me an idiot! Don’t worry, I’m not offended and I won’t try to fine/jail you for that.

        “No one's forcing anybody to read anything posted online.” This runs exactly parallel with the comments from some of the summer rioters: “no ask for the shops to be placed there”. Great logic!

        "recognized as a troll"; please, I'm a forum admin for a campaign website (yes, really). Trolls, as stupid as their behaviour is, are smart enough to know how to temporarily get under the radar; some are surprisingly persistent.

        Your solution of appealing to admin doesn’t work. Many forums are not moderated; others have very lax, or even complicit, ‘moderators’. I have been on many forums and seen this for myself (cycling forums, oh wow).

        I don’t want the internet to be legislated, and I certainly don’t want ‘god-like executive powers’ given to anyone. It need not happen if people behave!

        Yes, I think everyone should be accountable for everything they do THAT AFFECTS OTHER PEOPLE (I need to make this part clear in case trolls misrepresent). Anything less invites anarchy. Do you want to live in a world where people aren’t held to account for harm they do to others? Seriously? What do you think the rest of society thinks about that?

        Zombie Womble: “So, you want people to be fined/jailed because you joined the wrong forum and didn't have mummy there to protect you?”

        How antagonistic! It is also a silly strawman argument.

        Also, trolls don’t have boundaries, in attitude or in forums, evidently!

        1. NukEvil
          Trollface

          Re: Oh, really?

          You haven't undone anything--all you've done is thrown irrelevant information ("forum admin for a campaign website"), mixed with incorrect anecdotes about fictional events (" I actually actively campaign against some aspects of what our government tells us (yes anonymously – I like this)" LOL, so you burn up the internet whenever some political figure does something you don't like) into a lopsided argument, in the hopes your other accounts can assist you in upvoting and downvoting posts made by others.

          And yes, there is a difference between "society" and "ruling class". You'd be surprised what people are capable of when they get too much power at their disposal. The ruling class makes the laws, the society follows them. The two groups are mutually exclusive. One rule for "them", a different rule for "us". Congress, Parliament, Politburo, Dictator, King...they're all from the same mold. The only difference is how long it will be before (or how long it has been since) they totally subjugate their own people.

          If you've seen online places where moderators and admins don't police their own community, you've probably left those communities soon afterwards. Hey, guess what? Everyone else can leave those communities, too! Nobody has to kill him-/herself over a few words posted on a message board somewhere. They can simply leave...instead of whining to their daddies that someone called them a 4-letter word beginning with 'c' and ending in 'unt'. If people reach the point where they're having to leave a community they've been a part of due to bad moderation, it usually means that those people were too stupid to realize "Hey, these moderators are doing the same thing as these trolls are doing...maybe I should go somewhere else and not waste my time creating an account, etc". All it takes is a little common sense.

          I also like how you keep saying "I don't want the internet to be legislated!!!" yet you want the internet to be legislated. I'm no big, fancy shmancy argument guru, but I'm pretty sure they have a word for that...

          1. Steve 6

            Re: Oh, really?

            How is it "irrelevant"? You say I have my "nanny state"; I said that I actively campaign against it. Then you call me a liar: "fictional events". Nice bit of trolling there!

            "You'd be surprised what people are capable of when they get too much power at their disposal", which I why I call for accountability of those who abuse their unlimited freedom, before society demands that authorities take full control of the internet. Do you really still not understand this simple concept? Can you also see how it works both ways, and that perhaps the best approach is a compromise?

            "Everyone else can leave those communities, too! " and the trolls will inevitably follow the posters to the new communities - unless you think they won't? So extending the logic: are you suggesting the sensible people simply leave the internet completely and let the trolls take over? Really? Wouldn’t it be better to simply not troll?

            "Nobody has to kill him-/herself over a few words posted on a message board somewhere." Look up 'strawman argument' to see why your reasoning is invalid. (People can get offended and upset without getting suicidal). Are you really OK with the trolls who, purposely and needlessly, offend and upset people?

            Do you really not understand the difference between "legislated" and "held to account"? People are already starting to be held to account for their internet trolling (excellent!), does this mean the internet is now fully regulated? If you think not, then you prove my point; otherwise if you really think so, try net surfing within China to gain some perspective!

            So again: do you want to live in a world where people aren’t held to account for harm they do to others? Seriously? What do you think the rest of society thinks about that?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Oh, really?

              The problem with legislation on topics that cover a wide spectrum is the wording used - especially true in recent times under Blair + crew. If you place the acts targeted for punishment too squarely in the 'middle' and allow too much elbow room when composing the rules, the police/CPS/government take great relish in using them liberally for purposes never intended and police cells and courts are filled with people whose cases would never even have been marginal prior to the legislation.

              A great many people are reluctant to see legislation at all as a result, because it has rarely ended well in recent years with successive bad laws delivering little justice, but a growing impression of a nanny police state. PACE, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, RIPA, extreme porn, Section 43/44/58 etc etc. All have seen more life as sticks to beat the public with than they have delivered justice.

              Perhaps the criteria for use needs refining, but there is law enough already to deal with internet trolls, and I for one have had enough knee-jerk Daily Mail pleasing laws for the baying hordes to last several lifetimes.

              1. Steve 6

                Re: Oh, really?

                “Perhaps the criteria for use needs refining, but there is law enough already to deal with internet trolls,”

                Yes, laws already exist, but they are/were very difficult to implement and are a waste of police time and money. New laws will make the loss of the troll’s anonymity much more straight forward, then the existing laws can be applied for sentencing.

                Yes, any such law would certainly need refined guildelines to ensure there is a generally accepted balance – which is exactly why there will be a public consultation (and IMO is the right thing to do, unless you want those in power to take those decisions for you) – which takes us back to my original point: the trolls are further pushing the general public to accept their giving up of freedoms and anonymities. You need look no further than the sick examples who targeted the recently killed police officers - there will be many more people who will very happy for *everyone* to lose their anonymity as a deterrence. You say there are a great many people who are “reluctant to see any legislation” (especially the trolls no doubt), but the fact is there is an increasing number of people who are now calling for such legislation, purely to kerb the activities of trolls – and right now, general opinion is swinging in that direction. I guarantee you one thing: nothing will not happen!

                If you don’t want the legislation, then don’t be a tit! Surely it is as simple as that? Why does anyone want to troll anyway?

                1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                  Re: Oh, really?

                  "Why does anyone want to troll anyway?" - the first thing that you have said that I agree with, but once again we are into definitions. It is very easy for someone who has genuine opposition to a point being made being labelled as a troll - you yourself have come very close to this in your replies to some people who have been disagreeing with you. Indeed, if I were of the right mindset, I could refer to you as a troll here, since you are persisting in putting forward a view that - from the number of downvotes you have received - puts you firmly on the other side of the argument.

                  Some examples - if I go to a religious forum and ask for reasons why people believe in God, am I being a troll? If I go to a cycling forum and say that I think that cyclists are a menace on the roads and should have tax and insurance like other road-users, am I being a troll? If I go to a campaigning forum and say that I agree/disagree with whatever is being campaigned against/for, am I being a troll? If I go to the Conservative Party forum and state that I think that they are an objectionable bunch, is that trolling? In many cases, the answer would likely be Yes as defined by the group users, because sites like that are essentially clubs for the like-minded, and dissent is regarded as offensive, and some might even want sanctions taken against me, merely for disagreeing with their chosen point of view.

                  Open-minded people accept the risk that they will see/hear/read things they won't like on the internet and carry on accordingly. Closed minded people want silos so they are never challenged. There is room for both, but if you are in the latter category, don't shore up your prejudices by inflicting them on those of us in the former group.

                  I hope I have shown that I am not "childish" merely because I disagree with you, as you wrote in an earlier post.

                  1. Steve 6

                    Re: Oh, really?

                    “ It is very easy for someone who has genuine opposition to a point being made being labelled as a troll - you yourself have come very close to this in your replies to some people who have been disagreeing with you. Indeed, if I were of the right mindset, I could refer to you as a troll here, since you are persisting in putting forward a view that - from the number of downvotes you have received - puts you firmly on the other side of the argument.”

                    Your logic is flawed. You have to understand how factors are influenced. For example, this forum is usually frequented by engineers and computer buffs, who on average, spend less time being social in the community (seriously, I think that’s a fair comment). So I would expect the populous here to be somewhat less sensitive. Also, I have repeatedly asked various posters if they believe their views (defending the trolling examples I gave) reflect that of general society. No-one has even tried to answer.

                    Also, again, I don’t believe I am even risking offence of anyone. Furthermore, I believe I have shown that my opinions have merit – I have positively contributed to the discussions, not disrupted them. So to even hint that I’m trolling is a bit ironic.

                    “Some examples - if I go to a religious forum and ask for reasons why people believe in God, am I being a troll?”

                    IMO: Of course not. People’s relationships with God can be very complex and interesting.

                    “If I go to a cycling forum and say that I think that cyclists are a menace on the roads...”

                    IMO: if you substantiate that claim properly (which is unlikely, but assuming you can), then no

                    “and should have tax and insurance like other road-users, am I being a troll?”

                    IMO No. I believe that argument has at least some merit.

                    “If I go to the Conservative Party forum and state that I think that they are an objectionable bunch, is that trolling?”

                    No if you can substantiate that claim properly (and perhaps you could if you tried)

                    “ In many cases, the answer would likely be Yes”

                    Evidently, not. Granted some are conditional, but that depends entirely on the sincerity of the poster.

                    “Perhaps you, because sites like that are essentially clubs for the like-minded, and dissent is regarded as offensive”

                    I really hope you see the irony of your comment: “puts you firmly on the other side of the argument”

                    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                      Re: Oh, really?

                      No, I didn't say, or hint, that you were trolling. I merely said that it could be perceived as such by someone with a particular mindset. I have no problem with you expressing your views, as long as you keep showing that you genuinely believe them. I certainly would not suggest that you should not be here because of your different views, merely pointing out that, on some forums (of which I have been a short-term member, usually) you would be classed as a troll because of your clear opposition to the underlying mood of the regulars. Each of the examples I gave were based on real examples, when I have brought up the topics as illustrated and been told to go away (I am a cyclist myself, and seriously think that we should pay tax and insurance). No faulty logic nor hypocrisy involved.

                      I have, elsewhere in this thread given you my answer to your question about populism, which is "What does that have to do with anything? Maybe the Sun.Mirror/Mail readers would want a law against it, but are they equipped to make a sensible decision? History suggests not: populist legislation is almost always wrong (Dangerous Dogs Act, for an example). If the law were left to the populist vote, the country would look very different, and not for the better - no tax, no roads, no railway lines, no electricity/gas/water grids etc.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris Rowland

    In the real world I can call my buddy a dick eater and nobody cares, and if they do, what of it? It's an moment in the air and gone. Say it on the internet and a holier then thou individual such as yourself takes offence and they can go crying to whoever they like. Well screw that and you.

    Also in a pub a person can talk all they like about how they think people that blow themselves up for a sky fairy are mental lunatics and likely anyone else that believes in a sky fairy is equally suspect. That can cause a lot of offence. Say it in a pub and few people will care, well maybe a crazy sky fairy worshipper might try and bottle you, proving your point about crazy people and the sky faries. On the internet they can get you shafted.

    Now there is a huge gulf between people talking crap "Hey, you're a dick, and I think you're talking out of your arse" and something more serious "Hey, I know where you live and I'm going to come and eat your family" in the case of the second one, best to be a bit concerned and probably seek some action (maybe). If you have people who bully you in real life then stalking you and bullying you online this is also bad, however should be covered by the fact that they're attacking you in real life, but it does help that there's likely more evidence of the online attacks.

    Simple fact is people don't have much right to complain about offensive things when they open themselves up to be offended. If someone decides to look up #scatonmyfaceonsunday you can be as offended as you like as it was full of people taking pictures with poo on their faces. However it's your own damn fault, stick to #jesuswithbunnies

    1. Chris Rowland

      Re: @Chris Rowland

      It's one thing for people to say things to their friends that would be insulting or abusive when directed at a stranger, if you know someone you should understand what's acceptable to them.

      But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about abusing total strangers, such as some of those who responded to my previous post. They don't know me, I don't know them, but they think that insulting me somehow invalidates my argument. It doesn't. It reinforces it because they demonstrate that they have no opposing argument.

      I should have pointed out that I don't go in for social media very much. I don't use Twitter or Facebook. I do subscribe to some groups that discuss things I'm interested in. Most of them are friendly, polite places where people can discuss things and disagree in an adult manner.

      But not always. The sites I mentioned were also sites intended for technical discussion. I was hoping to be abble to learn and contribute, but was not prepared to put up with the abuse, not neccessarily of me but of many people. It made the sites unpleasant places to be.

  15. Graham 25
    Thumb Down

    If you want informed debate, don;t involve the great British public.

    Do we really want laws set by people who avidly watch X factor, Katie Price and One Direction ?

  16. toadwarrior

    Some people love to get offended. They should be in a space ship and shot off into the sun.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    when i have sex with my wife i am not usign protection

    9 months later a troll will come out of her downstairs

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: when i have sex with my wife i am not usign protection

      you may mock the incidence of trolling but the military have been trolling me for 12 years. i have had a complete psychological breakdown and now im programmed only to shoot up a cinema and kill myself when my handlers give me the code word.

      please be more respectful of victims of trolling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: when i have sex with my wife i am not usign protection

        This guy is military. Look at the encoding.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public consultation

    Ah yes; we tell you what we think ought to happen, then we reword it in such a way as to suggest you told us that's what you wanted all along. The 8.10 interview on "Today" to come liberally sprinkled with "That's why we..." and "...shows overwhelming public support for...".

    Done up like a kipper guv'nor.

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