Editorial: Feed the trolls

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In the fairytale you may have read before bed as child, the troll under the bridge was hostile and aggressive. He spent his time beneath the structure antagonizing those who tried to cross his path.

Now, trolls sit in front of their computers and post hostile and aggressive messages online. Internet trolls post on social media or comment on articles to provoke heated discussion, often about sensitive topics. Their comments tend to be extreme and negative.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, no matter how negative. Because of this, comments on The Brown and White are moderated and then posted. According to the comment policy, “Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published.”

One of the most read articles online on The Brown and White received dozens of comments, and 53 of those were published. While some commenters chose to disagree with the premise of the Black Lives Matter movement, others decided to blatantly attack the author and attempt to incite bodily harm to large groups of people. Comments containing threats to people’s lives were not approved.

Respectful discourse that is productive, even if it is provocative, is encouraged. The comments of trolls, however, often cross the line of educated dissent and are blatantly ignorant or threatening. These comments cross the line of respectful discourse and enter territory where posters have a blatant disregard for humanity.

So why do these individuals take the time to post inflammatory comments online?

This is in part because of the reaction their comments will elicit. There may be other reasons, but those remain unseen.

Addressing these trolls and their comments is feeding them and giving them what they want.

In an era of aggressive posts, comments with little facts and fake news, trolls need to be blatantly addressed respectfully. These comments will always exist, as will people who seek attention by making provocative statements. While free speech is a constitutional right, there is a need to draw attention to injustices. When posts cross a line, there is a need to speak up and speak out.

This can seem pointless considering some trolls don’t seem to read entire articles before commenting. They also seem to strategically ignore facts or cite fake news as a supporting statement. Many also post anonymously and use a fake email, which seems to mean these trolls are afraid to own their opinions anywhere other than behind a computer screen.

The original troll had his bridge. Internet trolls have their computers. All these trolls are hostile and aggressive, and the internet trolls, just like the troll under the bridge, should be scolded.

Comment policy


Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

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