Five Places Internet Trolls Enjoy Trolling

With the uptick in Internet trolling in the news, where do these trolls hang out, for the most part?

Internet trolls are even invading libraries.

Internet trolls are even invading libraries. (Source:  Quinn Dombrowski)

Trolling on the Internet has become an increasingly thorny issue, and one whose limits have yet to be reached and will only get worse before any improvements can be made.  Those limits got pushed recently with a hacker trolling an infant through the child's baby monitor.  However, it is the cost that one pays for maintaining a free internet, one where unpopular opinions and beliefs can be aired with little fear of reprisal.

Still, where does a troll hang out, or go after people?  What is key to a troll's success is two things when being part of a group, as described many years ago by webcomic Penny Arcade (NSFW link warning): Anonymity from others, and few consequences from their actions.  Here are five places where both of those are rife:

1.  Twitter

Twitter remains a name-optional service, and its simplistic means of communication, similar to text messages, makes it very easy for trolls to thoughtlessly insult, taunt, or threaten someone in seconds.  Despite the site's user base skewing more female than male, that does not stop aggressive trolling especially towards female users, as recent rape threats towards a currency campaigner have indicated.  Given the intense amount of messages that Twitter handles on a day to day basis, moderation is nigh-impossible, and even tweets that are reported may take days to get back to.

2.  YouTube and Other Video Sites

Most video sites, in addition to allowing users to post or stream video anonymously, allow them to comment anonymously as well.  Given the vast amount of traffic these sites receive on the internet (YouTube alone takes up nearly 20% of America's Internet traffic), it is incredibly difficult to moderate the actions of users, making trolling far more appealing.  While there is a means to hide messages through hitting a spam flag, it only entices some other readers to read them.  YouTube has been pushing users to link to their Google accounts, often with their real names, but it has not been a blanket enforcement.

3.  Forums and Message Boards

Internet forums remain key points where trolls hang.  The virtue of being anonymous allows for trolls to be and act what they want.  Given the amount of damage and incendiary commentary trolls can inflict on the populace, and the various means of which trolls will subvert bans and suspensions, most forums these days relegate trolling to specific areas of the site, where they can go at it with zero consequence.  The king of these Internet forums remains 4chan, whose /b/ subforum is so extreme at times that most people just click out after reading two seconds of it...and then spend the next few hours in a fetal position.

4.  Media Outlets

Most media outlets have a comments section for users to sound off.  At popular media sites, be it the New York Times or elsewhere, the popularity creates a greater incentive to troll, even if there are moderators overseeing comments being posted.  Furthermore, most low-hanging fruits in media—such as free weekly newspapers—tend to have lax controls on registering new accounts, making it easy for trolls to subvert bans or even create new identities to maximize the effect.  The more likely a media outlet steers towards specific topics, such as technology, politics, or video games, the more likely more "passionate" fans of the topics will emerge and incite massive fights over the Internet through trolling.

5.  Reddit and Other Site Aggregators

Site aggregators such as Reddit allow users to send links and media to other users anonymously, with the intent of getting people's attention either on themselves or a story.  Such demands for attention is very appealing to trolls, for it gives them incentive to taunt and insult with recklessness.  Moderation sometimes works, but at times can be lax due to user backlash.

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