21 October 2014
For all of the opportunities it opens up to us, the internet still comes with its fair share of problems. I think it’s fair to argue that the majority of them arise as a result of us – people – misusing the technology we’re so lucky to have at our fingertips.
In my opinion, the internet is a place that’s been unpoliced for too long. The anonymity offered by usernames and avatars means that bullies can target others from behind a smokescreen. Very rarely are they held to account for the hurt they cause people.
It begs the question: are we taking online threats and hate speech online as seriously as we take them ‘in person’? The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, doesn’t seem to think so as he recently suggested an increase in the maximum sentence for internet “trolls” from six months to two years.
Whilst I think it’s a step in the right direction, as it gives some power back to the victims of virtual harassment, I think the government will have to tread carefully. Surely there’s going to have to be a line drawn between someone who’s simply exercising their right to criticise another person and someone who is unnecessarily and intentionally causing pain to others.
The questions remain – where do we draw the line and how do we judge whether one form of trolling is worse than another?