BLOG POST (MODULE 12) YESENIA ROGERS: Twisted Trolls Take Twitter (and iFunny)

TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE AND RAPE

The “Trouble at the Koolaid Point” article tells us a lot about the struggle a woman had to face because of “trolls” online. She explains how awful it is for a woman to have to deal with people who don’t feel like they “deserved the attention” and who feel threatened that she (or any other woman is getting the attention at all).

A scary statistic I found about Twitter says that “a study of 134,000 abusive social media mentions showed that 88% of them occur on Twitter.” (Jim Edwards, Buisness Insider)

Although that 88% isn’t specifically all women, the same article also gives this example:

Sue Perkins, the British TV host, gave up using Twitter last week after she received death threats merely because other people had suggested she might make a good replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.”

This is a real life example of a woman getting attention, who some felt she didn’t “deserve” and so the harassment began. And, escalated quickly. Much how Sierra described it in her writing. It’s almost exactly the same.

Another place where “trolls” lurk would be iFunny. (A social media that is for posting funny pictures or videos and liking or commenting on them)

Below is a picture of an interview with a child. I have no way of actually knowing if this quote is real or not but this is how the picture was displayed on the site.

Module 12 Post

This was meant to be a “joke”.

But the joke isn’t what I’m going to be talking about.

It’s the responses this picture evokes. The reactions it pulls out of people.

In the comment section, you can find a lot of horrible comments about this picture. Things about all the ways they want to “kill” this child, beat them, set them on fire. One guy says “If you can’t beat them, kill them”. You can see that people are just trying to “top” one another in the same way described in “Trouble at the Koolaid Point”. Who can say the “funniest” and worst thing? Who can go that far just for the laughs? (Or, as Kathy Sierra put it, “for the lulz”)

Many different photos on iFunny, a lot that have a woman in it, have a lot of comments having to do with rape.

For this specific photo, many go as far as to literally describe in detail how they plan to  “rape her”. Or suggest that her father should rape her to “set her straight”.

Real quotes, from real people on iFunny. You know, “just being funny”.

Some of these comments are from hours ago. This is something happening right now.

Why are people so comfortable with talking like this online? These are real people you are saying things about. That is a real child somewhere in this world that you are talking about (“joking” about) violating.

And when you see actual people replying and confronting the horrible comments they use the same responses that Sierra says they would.

Oh boohoo someone was mean on the internet.” 

Discussion Questions:

  1. The lectures (and article on Business Insider) suggests that people could be doing this on things like Twitter because of “identity”. People know who you are on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Do these people act this way because it’s easier to get away with? Or could you think of another reason why Twitter and iFunny may be such a popular place for harassment?
  2. How do you think this harassment should be handled? In the lectures, Gail pointed out that some agree nothing should be done to change the free speech. What do you think? Should this be something treated like hate speech in face to face interactions? Or does the internet run on different rules? Should the internet run on different rules?
  3. Do you see things like this often or at all? And, perhaps, do you even see things like this on social media platforms where your identity is known?

References:

Edwards, Jim. “One Statistic Shows That Twitter Has a Fundamental Problem Facebook Solved Years Ago.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 17 Apr. 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/statistics-on-twitter-abuse-rape-death-threats-and-trolls-2015-4
End_Liberalism. “THIS. IS. HILARIOUS.” IFunny.
Sierra, Kathy. “Trouble at the Koolaid Point.” Serious Ponyhttp://seriouspony.com/trouble-at-the-koolaid-point/
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24 thoughts on “BLOG POST (MODULE 12) YESENIA ROGERS: Twisted Trolls Take Twitter (and iFunny)”

  1. Hi, Yesenia!
    Thank you for sharing! I do find this phenomenon very troubling. For the first question that you asked, I think it is true that people act this way because it is easier to get away, which reminded me of the film Nerve and one of the episodes in the TV show Black Mirror. (I know we aren’t supposed to use a movie example, but I do want to show the contrast here.) Nerve is a film where it describes a game where the spectators decide what the players’ missions are. The situation got intense where the final mission was to kill a person, and most of the spectators chose yes because none of their identities are revealed in this choice. On the opposite hand, episode 1 of Black Mirror Season 3 shows the situation where everyone has to be extremely careful on social media so that their ratings would not get hurt. I believe this proves the fact that people act horribly in platforms such as Twitter because they are kind of anonymous. They can be whatever the trolls they couldn’t be in real life and screw other people’s life without any consequences. I think it is also because of the characteristics of these social platforms that make the difference. Facebook is more of a place where we share our lives whereas the character limit on Twitter does not allow us to do so. IFunny itself has a troll name, which its own purpose is to make people have fun. But fun could become malicious to other people. I guess these could be the reasons why harassments appear more on these social platforms.

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  2. Fascinating blog post, Yesenia! You ask some really interesting questions.
    I have witnessed similar harassment on Instagram. I believe people act this way because it is easier to get away with. One of my friends recently tagged me in a tasteless Instagram meme that I found far from funny. I asked my roommate how to remove the tag or delete the comment the way you can on Facebook. She informed me that Instagram does not allow you to do so, but that you cannot search to see if someone is mentioned in the comments on a post.
    Although this sort of harassment does not involve face-to-face interactions, it is more permanent. As such, I think this harassment should be treated to the same—if not a more serious—degree as hate speech. The Internet should operate on different rules because of its lasting effects. Unfortunately, heinous comments will remain online forever.

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  3. Hi Yesenia, I greatly enjoyed reading your post on virtual harassment. Reading your post as well as Nakamura’s article “Queer Female of Color: The Highest Difficult Setting There Is?” has made it apparent that females are so belittled and degraded in something as universal as usage of social media. I am so utterly disappointed and disgusted by the notion that women aren’t even allowed to pursue “male oriented” passions unless they want to be put down or even called crude names like “annoying bitch”. I would like to mention that Nakamura also mentions Scalzi’s article on the concept of White priviledge in gaming and the fact that he was popularly read and even taken seriously by the majority of his viewers. Women gamers, especially women gamers of color, are forced to defend their credibility as gamers, an aspect that straight White male privileged gamers, such as Scalzi himself, did not have to do. It is so disheartening to acknowledge the fact that women are simply not welcomed into the virtual realm of not only gaming but also social media, and that those who attempt to break the stereotypical male-dominated society are discredited, or publicly castigated. One of the best approaches for women users is to continuously fight through and continue participating in this male dominated leisure, since conforming and removing themselves from social media sites may only perpetuate and reinforce stereotypes, thus making it increasingly more difficult for women to assimilate into these sexist/racist online communities.

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  4. Great post. It was interesting but disturbing to read about the content on violence and rape online. It’s sad how there is so much abusive content online. I do think that these comments and posts are more readily available on twitter because of the identity. Unlike Facebook and Linkedin, on Twitter, you can create any identity and it does not necessarily have to be your real identity. On Facebook, most of your friends are people who know you know and if you post abusive content, you will be judged. On Twitter you can be someone else and can get away with it. I also think that there are a lot of many people putting abusive content together on Twitter and iFunny, so it is more normal and accepted to post. That is a reason why it is popular to post there. I also think that since everything is online and anonymous, people don’t realize the real life impact of their comments and how they affect real life people. Even though everyone has the right to free speech, I think that abusive comments should be monitored. It is tricky to handle and decide what is abusive content.

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  5. Interesting post! I think people are doing this because there is such a pressure in today’s society to always be politically correct. For people who do not share these sentiments, to constantly police their behaviors in real life causes a fragmented shift on social media. This does not mean that I support this, but merely that I am trying to understand why people are harassing people for seemingly small things. I believe it’s easier for them to get away with it, both socially and legally. In order to combat this, we need to looking policies and laws that concern technology use. The Internet is a product for consumption and we should not forget that, it should be and can be be policed and monitored as any other product we use it. As much as people are saying that it’s a safe space and privacy matters, it should be in the same way that real life is. Yes, people have their own homes and offices and spaces, but as soon as we receive news that there is a threat in place, the authorities can disrupt your privacy. I feel like similar types of policies should exist on the Internet. You should not be able to get away with “hypothetically” raping or killing someone, at the very least you should have not be allowed to come into contact with the person you are describing. This should be treated like hate speech in face to face interactions because it is hate speech. It is cyberbullying.

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  6. I absolutely believe that the anonymous nature of websites like Twitter are the reason that these sites are hotspots for harassment. While I’m sure it happens to some extent, I have never seen any instances of major, serious harassment on Facebook (or LinkedIn, lol). I see a similar issue in online gaming, where people can resort to some awfully creative threats hiding behind their gamer tags. The worst I have ever seen on Facebook is some rudeness with no followup. As for criminality, I absolutely think that harassment as serious as that discussed in Sierra’s post should be considered criminal. Extremely so. Hate speech is hate speech, whether in person or online. And the thing with the right to free speech: personal rights only apply where they do not impede the rights of another citizen. Therefore, when threats reach the point that somebody genuinely fears for their safety, the attacker has forfeited their right to free speech in that instance. It is hate speech, it is illegal, and it should be prosecuted.

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  7. Thanks for your post!

    Besides the “anonymity” and identity separation that Twitter provides, it also allows for unsolicited communication. It does not require friend requests, or LinkedIn connection approvals for two or more individuals to communicate on a specific topic. The same applies in real life- people that interact on Twitter and other non-identity based social media often don’t know each other personally. This real-world distance allows for harassment because there are no ramifications in their relationship (since, of course, it doesn’t exist).

    In terms of addressing this harassment, I do consider them crimes, and believe that it should be punishable in a court. This likely means that internet regulation and cyber behavior laws need to be more concretely defined for them to have legal standing. Just like in real life, there is a fine line between free speech and hate speech, and the internet should run on the same definitions. While I understand some of the points brought up by critics, I believe that enforcing these laws in the cyber world does not interfere with freedom of speech or content, since a lot of the harassment we examined in this module fall into the category of hate speech.

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  8. Yaaaass Yesenia,

    I really enjoyed your blog post, your critique of iFunny was spot on! I feel that people act that way on social media to get attention. Some of these responses on iFunny and Twitter are constructed out of the popular opinion. If comments are mostly negative, you feel moved by the comments and struggle to find the positives. For instance with R.Kelly’s “sex cult“, people tweeted negative attributes about the pop singer that he was a rapist and evil. On the other hand, there was small pool of tweets that criticized the negative folks because they we’re “fans of R.Kelly before all the rape allegations”. But looking at the situation from a glance, you would think that R.Kelly is receiving so much harassment. I feel that people can get away with this behavior relates to the Scalzi piece, WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE. Most of the people criticizing R.Kelly were white men, and they feel inclined to harass the singer because of their race. I feel that in order to prevent harassment, there should be a system that examines the content before it gets posted. And if the matter is not supposed to be offensive, then it should be written in a different kind of rhetoric. But somebody still may get offended. I feel that with such harassment comes direct responses (online and offline). Fights have broken out because people see their harassers in person. And there’s nothing that the internet can do to prevent that. I see stuff like this happen all the time. On Twitter, there is a lot of prejudice because people start to attack others based on their Twitter profile pic. But I feel like nobody should have their freedom of speech restricted, but geared towards another audience. People come to the internet to escape social prejudice, but when it comes to death threats, that is a whole different story. Great Job.

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  9. Hi Yesenia, thanks for posting! Reading your post and the other readings of this module highlight how unjustly and unfairly women are treated in the gaming industry and online. I didn’t realize how vulgar and scary online forums could be until I read the Sierra piece and read your example of Perkins and the picture on iFunny. It’s crazy to think how misogynistic the internet can be and how much rape culture is promoted on sites such as iFunny, Reddit, etc. Many (or nearly all) of these internet “trolls” post such horrible things online because they know that they have their screen name protecting them; they think they can’t be tracked down because what they’re posting is “meant to be funny”, is “just for laughs”, and is “just to one-up the other guy who said the other thing”. It’s appalling to see how many individuals partake in such disgusting actions and pass it off as making a joke. Because Twitter and iFunny are mainly platforms of presenting humor, a community to make jokes with and laugh with, these social media sites are where trolls linger around to find their next victims; Twitter and iFunny don’t necessarily require “real” information for an account. And because for the most part, a lot of the things posted on these two sites aren’t taken seriously (because posted as a joke or whatever), there is a “safety net” for these harassers to just say, “oh it’s just a joke, get over it.” On Facebook and other related sites, there are more aspects of one’s personal life presented that may incriminate them, ruin their reputation, etc, such as their employment, families, schools, and associated organizations.

    I think this harassment should be taken seriously. But then again, we’ve come a long way and rape is still not taken seriously because of so many individuals who just brush off the matter. This kind of harassment (and promotion of rape culture) online should actually have a consequence, or it would continue on; and not just a statement that there is a consequence, but an actual fine, jail time, etc put upon a person to show that this type of hate speech isn’t taken lightly. I would think that if things like this were reported, those who are supposed to protect and regulate the occurrences in our community should actually care and take action. However, if these things are also taken into account as those in face to face interactions, it would bring up the issues with internet censorship and that’s a whole different, sticky mess.

    I see these problems on Twitter and Facebook, most frequently. Posts would go from a woman appreciating something to some random troll posting that she’s a whore or some other vulgar insult to pass off as a joke or to tell her she shouldn’t be receiving the likes, favorites, or retweets because she doesn’t deserve them. It doesn’t make any sense to me that someone would go out of their way to hate on something that doesn’t pertain to them in any way, space, time, world, or dimension. A lot of the time, it appears these people who slander online just don’t care where their name is stamped as long as their opinion is heard, loud and clear.

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  10. Q. The lectures (and article on Business Insider) suggests that people could be doing this on things like Twitter because of “identity”. People know who you are on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Do these people act this way because it’s easier to get away with? Or could you think of another reason why Twitter and iFunny may be such a popular place for harassment?

    I think harassments tend to happen on Twitter or any other platforms which allow anonymous than Facebook and LinkedIn because Facebook and LinkedIn have so many real friends so the users don’t want to show what they are doing or their negative side. I personally don’t like posting anything on Facebook because there are things I don’t want my real friends to know about especially when I have strong opinion about something.
    I also think Twitter is more instant reaction compare to Facebook so the moment you see a tweet, you can say things that can hurt the person. As it’s discussed in the lecture, people don’t ponder about things they are reacting to and what they are doing.

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  11. Hi Yesenia, I really loved your post this week and thought it was a great eye opening experience. I think that the issues that you focused on and the issues that you presented were great overall. I especially liked how to took a joke and showed people that the joke is not funny just because we think it is ok to treat or joke about people like that. I would like to start with your first discussion question that is truly something that I’ve thought about this entire module. I think that the use of Twitter as a shield is protecting people and allowing them to think that it is ok to treat people with disrespect and rudeness. I agree with you that this is something that is the result of not knowing people. I think because we do not know exactly who everyone on Twitter is we think that it is ok to hide behind this and treat people rudely and disrespect them. This is the worst thing in my opinion because just like we learned in Sierra’s article/ experience it is when we allow things to happen that they spin out of control and that is up to us to stop Twitter’s rudeness. I think that while it would be nice to stop all of this the idea of Free Speech is a protection for these people. I think that we need to realize that freedom of speech is law of the land, but harassment is not freedom of speech. I think if it happens to a woman once or twice by different people there is nothing we can do about it because we can’t regulate the internet with that kind of a fine tooth comb, but if it happens many times we need to act. I think that what can be done can only happen when, sadly to say, the issue has become an issue. I think it is up to the woman to stop the comments immediately by others, but it is up to society to stand with them when the comments will not stop. Lastly, I haven’t seen these issues occur anywhere in the sense of people being rude to others that I know. I have seen people be treated badly that I don’t know. It is not something that I personally like to get involved in so I just scroll, but I think it is just a problem with being on social media. I would also say that it is not just women that I’ve seen being insulted but also men. Great Post. Awesome Questions.
    Saliba.

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  12. Hey, great blog post!
    I think that the anonymity that one can achieve by creating “fake” accounts, which is a problem on all socialmedia platforms, might be more common on twitter because Facebook and Twitter are places people want to have “serious” accounst to actually connect with other people on a more serious level, while on twitter is used less as a platform for strong tie relationship or job connections but more fun. I therefore think Twitter has developed as a place where people throw out their opinions and thoughts without thinking about the people they are attacking and making fun of.
    I think that free speech is such an important concept in the US, and a big part of their social philosophy, which makes it hard to do a lot about the issue. The line between what is going to be considered ok and what is not okay is so blurry that trying to create some legislation/restrictions almost seem pointless. I think reality is that the internet is different from face to face interactions, because it is a completely different way of communicating when people see no limits to what they can say, and can therefore not be treated as it. The internet should run on different rules, however, what the right way to deal about it I don’t know.

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  13. Harassment occurs so much on twitter because people are able to post and make offensive comments behind the comfortability of their computer screen at home and there is no real social interaction that is occurring. I feel that harassing someone on social media is one of the most cowardly things that someone can do because they definitely would not be making these same comments and threats in person. People build this false internet identity that gives them the privilege of saying whatever they want without repercussions.

    I think that there should definitely be consequences for the offensive things that are said on Twitter especially when it comes to people posting death threats about someone. I understand that everyone has their freedom of speech but it is different when one comment can go viral and be seen by thousands of people on twitter. This form of harassment can be worst than in person harassment at times because it last more than one day because once something is posted on the internet it is typically there forever.

    I see harassment happen on twitter all the time whether it is simply posting a bad picture of someone without their consent or making an offensive comment. This happens on platforms like Twitter and Instagram all the time where people’s identities are known because the internet is everywhere. Someone in Utah can comment and make a threat to my life while im living here in Arizona and they will have no consequence because the internet is not a tangible platform. There has been a tremendous about of negative impact that has come from social media platforms and alot of it goes unrecognized.

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  14. Hi Yesenia, I really enjoyed reading this blog post. It was very eye opening and makes a person think about how these kinds of responses happen right this very moment. I believe that people do act this way because it is easier to get away with since there is an option for anonymity and fake accounts. In Facebook and Instagram, as well as LinkedIn, people create accounts to interact with people they know. They have accounts to interact and share with others and by having people on these social media platforms who know who they are creates this “built-in behavior moderation.” This “built-in behavior moderation” creates a filter for what people say and do on these social media platforms besides Twitter. And because this “built-in behavior moderation” is in place and not on Twitter, allows Twitter users to create fake accounts and interact with people who they do not know. Then this anonymity urges and gives people the freedom to say whatever they want on this social media platform. Whether it is nice, inappropriate, or bully behavior users have free will to do as they please without any one knowing who they are and get away with it. Anonymity becomes this easy way out to say as one pleases without any consequences.

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  15. Hey Yesenia, your example certainly ties into the Sierra reading, The concept of “identity” influencing comments and the kind of language and things people say to one another is very well established in social media, I often think about the things people are comfortable saying behind a keyboard but would likely never say face-to-face. The added layer of separation and blurred identity coming from platforms like iFunny and Twitter (even more so 4Chan and Reddit) unquestionably contributes to the kinds of things people feel they can get away with saying to one another, this is definitely why I would think these platforms would be a site of these perceived harassments.
    First of all, barring any monumental legal cases in the Supreme Court, hate speech is protected by the first amendment, so while it may be despicable I am among those who agree nothing should be changed with free speech, it is a right protected by law and I would not like to hint at anything else. Harassment like this is troubling of course, there is no way around that but I would reckon that the internet does indeed have “different” rules than actual interactions or society. We can be disgusted at whatever you like just as you could in real life but everyone has a right to be obnoxious and offend you, I will not defend what they say and I will probably despise them for making comments like the people in your example do but I will defend their right to make them despite my feelings in regards to the subject matter.
    I do not use social media very much in large part do to the reality that these things make up the majority of it, iFunny a meme sharing website is a different kind of social media that while I do not ever post or go on it in particular I will occasionally view from the outside on similar platforms like Reddit and 4Chan. I see things like this all the time when I do go on to view things on these sites and I might laugh at some jokes, cringe at others, or perhaps think others are in bad taste. These particular platforms are anonymous in nature so it is essentially a completely free environment from the judgement you might ensue for these sorts of comments. Occasionally, a friend will send me a screenshot of someone in a Facebook comment chain saying something very offensive to someone, so I will say I have seen it happen without question.

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  16. Hey Yesenia! You did a good job relating iFunny to what Prof. Gail explained in the interview lectures. You brought up some very important points about how people are attacked on social media networks like iFunny and how some trolls see their comments as harmless and funny despite how loaded and horrible they actually are. The reason why I believe that internet trolls do this is because they know that they can get away with saying anything they please and because they can have a separate identity (almost like an extension of themselves or a “new” identity online). This combination gives trolls or anyone the ability to say what they want, make threats, be sexist, be racist, and make a name for themselves just because they know that they won’t be held accountable for their statements. If online sites like Twitter, Facebook, iFunny, etc., held people accountable, things like your example on iFunny wouldn’t happen, but then again, it’s also wrong to tell people that they can’t express their own opinion just as it’s wrong to say hurtful things to people online. I believe that there are major issues surrounding free speech and how harassment can be handled; however, there is not much that can be done because people choose to join a site and if they’re facing harassment they can easily block people, log out, or walk away from the screen. Although it sounds easy, many people are unable to just that and I completely understand. However, it’s important to understand that the internet doesn’t run on the same rules in real life. This is exactly why things said on the internet aren’t taken so seriously as one would assume. Once again, great points Yesenia!

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  17. Excellent work! I think that just harassment is completely unacceptable, and reprehensible, but I think that prudence ought to be executed as to when the authorities ought to step in. What I mean by this–and this is in response to your second question–is that one needs to distinguish between someone who’s posted some stupid comment for the sake of saying something stupid, and someone who’s posted a comment that leads to violence or some other tangible effect in the real world. If I write a blog post, and I get dozens of people saying things to me such as, “I wish you would die already”, or something to that effect, I’d brush them off–doesn’t mean that those comments won’t eventually get to me, but brushing them off would be best, and what would be better would be to delete them or ban or block them. Observable, and palpable instances of obsessive threats or harassment ought to be honed in on, and redressed, and if legal reaction is possible, so be it. The subject of what constitutes hate speech seems to be an easy one, but think of it this way: how many times have you heard two friends have an argument, and one of them says, “I’m going to kill you”? Is this hate speech? Often, we’d say no–the person doesn’t really intend to kill their friend. The phrase is used more in a metaphorical, or a colloquial sense. Now put those words in an online context, and it gets trickier. The Internet can trick impressionable minds into thinking that someone they have a familiarity with Individual x, because they’ve watched one of their YouTube videos, or read their blog, or follow them on Twitter, when in fact no familiar exists at all. So, when does a comment such as, “I hope you die” or something like it, become hate speech and not wind blown out of their behinds (hurtful, and unnecessary wind, nonetheless)? Doxxing, identity theft, writing fake reports such as weev did, leaking photos of individuals, releasing private information of individuals: these, and offenses like them, ought to all be punished as crimes. Leaving disgusting comments on a blog, on YouTube, or Twitter? That’s a more difficult question. Block the person, ban them, flag them, etc. Arrest them? That’s a harder question. I think something can be morally wrong yet legally acceptable. Should be arrest everybody who’s ever said something nasty on YouTube? I think these social media outlets are public forums, and I’m a strong proponent of free speech. Yet, I agree with Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.’s assessment in Schenck vs. United States, that you “can’t yell fire in a crowded theater”, and that there are limits to free speech.

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  18. I really enjoyed reading the post! I do agree that harassing comments on social media are usually on Twitter and iFunny. I think the reason why this occurs is because so many people use these apps and the frequent updates of their timelines. Personally I think that nothing could be done to stop these harassments, because of the freedom of speech but also from the amount of social media users who accept these. It is very difficult to make them stop from saying these. I think if the internet make the new rule, then these apps will lose a lot of the users and it won’t be worth for the company to keep the rules. I don’t really follow people who get these kinds of comments often. Also, most of my followes or people I follow are my friends or family so I don’t see the harassments on my timeline.

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  19. Hi Yesenia! I really enjoyed reading your blog post, it was very interesting and also very eye opening. I think it is true that a lot of people on social media platforms respond this type of way in order to incite some type of reaction from others. I do feel like people act a certain way on social media platforms because they feel that their identity is not being comprised as much as it would be in person. Also they think that their posts/comments will go viral which give them more incentive to post the vulgar things that they do. There should be more users standing up to people like this as opposed to a policing force, it should be more community and organizational that way people do not feel as if they are being taken their freedom of speech taken away from them. Comments like this should be treated as hate speech even if people are only playing because it still is wrong and promotes a culture of social media harassment as if no one will notice because it is online. I see things like this happen all the time when I am on Twitter, which is the most common social media platform that shows different forms of hate speech and vulgar comments. Most of the time on Twitter it is just trolls or fake accounts doing so for no specific reason or just because they feel the need to do this as a way or pay back which in my opinion should be handeld more carefully by virtual communities.

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  20. Hi Yesenia!

    I really enjoyed reading your post and sharing your insights. To answer your second and third questions, I definitely think these behaviors and interactions on internet should be considered as harassment and should be handled by certain internet community rules. People who comment with very extreme and sometimes inhuman ideas are a lot of times testing the limit of internet safety. The freedom of giving one’s own opinion doesnt give people the right to harm each other on internet just because it’s a virtual space. However, it can have the same effect of killing a person from creating pressure through the virtual platform and at the end leads to even worse results. I think the comments as listed in your post should be handled as hate speech and there should be more supervision over this kind of hate words.

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  21. Hey Yesenia, thank you for a very detailed and informative post. I find it very disturbing that people are making such vile comments on the Internet about a child, but I am no means shocked, as I have heard about things like this occurring very often before on many different sites. I liked how you touched on the culture of users trying to one-up one another in terms of the shock value of their comments. I think users who are primarily male try to use this shock value to their advantage by saying things that reaffirm these online platforms as a “safe space” for their ideas, and to express ideals that might not be acceptable in normal day-to-day interactions. This is evident in some of the reactions these users have when people point out this problematic behavior, such as “Boohoo it’s the Internet,” as you and Sierra both mentioned.

    I think a big reason why people are doing things like this is because of the anonymity that Twitter and iFunny affords, which makes them less accountable of their actions but also allows them to express their beliefs. However, I think it also has to do with how reactionary tweets and short comments can be, which is something I picked up from Gail’s interview with Lyndsey. The idea of responding to people so quickly can lead to trolls saying the most hurtful thing possible as fast as possible, since this will allow them to gain a higher standing among people that share their opinions. An example of this type of trolling and abuse in which the main troller’s identity is known was with Milo Yiannopoulos and Leslie Jones. Milo openly criticized Leslie Jones for her involvement in the Ghostbusters remake by using racist and sexist remarks, which his followers eagerly jumped on. Although not all of his followers were verified, the fact that Milo so harshly abused Leslie Jones on Twitter shows that sometimes users are hell-bent on getting their own reactionary view across, even if it harms other users in the process.

    In the case of the Milo incident, many people called for a difference to be taken between that of free speech and hate speech, and I tend to agree with this viewpoint. I don’t think it’s correct to harm people online or in real life, and if you are doing something to adversely harm someone’s real life, then people must be held accountable. I understand it is nice to have anonymity on the Internet, but at the point where someone’s online barbs tend to interfere with another person’s real life (such as doxxing and swatting), the offending user has to be punished proportionally for their actions.

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  22. Hi Yesenia! Thank you for your post! I had no idea that iFunny existed and that this type of content was being publicized. To answer your first question, I think people act this way because they don’t realize that the original posters are people themselves too. The internet makes it all too easy for people to lose empathy for others because of the lack of personal connection and face-to-face interaction. I think that the majority of these harassers would not have the courage to behave this way in person. While it may be perceived as impeding free speech, I think that harassment should be censored from the internet. It should definitely be treated as hate speech in face to face interactions. People should be held responsible for their actions and words regardless of the environment. It is so troubling that this type of behavior is not penalized because this just perpetuates the idea that harassment “behind a screen” is acceptable.

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  23. Hi Yesenia, thank you for that insightful look into this growing issue! Identity is certainly one aspect that ties into it. When people are held with greater accountability and have their networks and jobs on the line, they are rarely willing to jeopardize that “for the lulz.” This being said, it is certainly also based on the medium in question. Twitter as a platform encourages quick and competitive iterations of wit regarding a topic, a practice that can take a turn for the worse with the wrong internet crowds. For this reason, it is both the anonymity and the medium itself that is important when determining behavior of this sort.

    I think that in this day and age there is a waning regard for pure freedom of speech in society because people are beginning to realize how harmful it can be. People can claim to just be expressing opinions or messing around, but when those opinions or comments affect the mental health of others on the internet, a line needs to be drawn. It is also important to note that one cannot determine the relative fragility of another person’s mental state over the internet or how they will react to a given comment. For this reason, jokes and opinions of this nature should certainly be considered for spam filtering and restriction due to their potentially harmful effects.

    I see things like this occur on subsects of Facebook, where friends have shown me glimpses of their membership in secret groups. These groups are bastions of festering insensitivity and hate speech, and are not open to the general public. In this sense, even when there is a greater sense of identity, those of poor character still find a means of congregating to dispel hatred and insensitive comments. I personally strive to remove myself from the company of people with these inclinations, but I have seen some of this online.

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  24. I think that part of the reason why these horrible comments are being posted is because of a positive feedback loop. When an individual sees that other people are making insulting comments, they will also make similar comments. That comment will seem like a support to the previous comment. As this gets repeated over time, this will create a sense of community among the trolls. In an even longer time period, they will start to recognize each other and see that they have the numbers. With numbers, they don’t fear any retribution from people who sees this as wrong. Furthermore, there is no impact way of dealing with harassment. For the most part, a lot of places online are anonymous and serves to further encourage these kind of behaviors. I think that democratic aspect of the internet can and are taken to the the extremes where this mob mentality produces these results.

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