With the advent of the internet, spreading information has become easier than ever. Anyone can create content and publish it online. As a result, a lot of what gets added goes unchecked. It becomes harder to pinpoint the source of information making it challenging to find a credible source online, hence why we’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t trust everything you see on the internet”. The challenge of figuring out what to trust is magnified when trolling is brought into play. Although trolling is found in various forms, they all share a common theme: the spread of misinformation. In a society where information is so easily altered, where does one draw the line for internet trolling?
To start, lets take a look at Ken M.
As you probably gathered from the video, Ken M. is lighthearted, playful, and fun to follow. This humorous internet trolling is delightful. His intentions are to entertain. Sometimes this is accomplished by confusing people or frustrating them, but it is not in a harmful manner. Even so, I cannot say for certain his actions have not offended a person or two no matter how inoffensive he seems. Does this make him a bad person? Is the fact that he deceives people intentionally with information he knows is wrong crossing a line?
While there are other benign trolls like Ken M. out there, not everyone has such pure intentions. A good example are Russian trolls. In her article “Could Russian trolls have helped elect Donald Trump?” Kathleen Jameison discusses how spreading false information such as the availability of mobile voting influenced the 2016 election. The trolling involved in this case had the intention of swaying voters to Trump while silencing the voices of those who opposed him. These trolls aren’t directly harming people with their tactics, but they are actively manipulating a large population. Is this the point where we say enough is enough?
I don’t get to decide alone where that line is and what crosses the boundary between acceptable and not. The reality of it all is that both trolls are deceiving their audience. However, one is making people on the internet laugh and the other is affecting the outcome of a major election.