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Twitter Facing More Troll Problems

July 23, 2018

Trolling is a form of online antagonizing, where anonymous, or not so anonymous internet users, insult and harass other users. Recently, Twitter has taken a stand against trolls, creating a policy which bans such negative behavior, and will even go so far as to block or delete accounts which take part in such actions. Unfortunately, while the social media platform has been doing well in some aspects of their new regulations regarding internet trolling, it seems their plans to revamp the site haven’t worked out exactly as they planned.

This week a Twitter-based controversy occurred when internet trolls began attacking the social media accounts of journalists and their families. The theory stands that the insulting tweets are being directed at high-profile journalists linked to certain political campaigns. One, upsetting incident involved Chris Cillizza, a regular reporter for CNN, who’s 9-year old child became the target of mocking tweets. Allegedly, tweeters were posting negative and hurtful comments about the child’s peanut allergy. Cillizza’s reaction was disgust with the social media platform and its users. He commented on the trolling, advising tweeters to feel free to criticize him, but to leave his child out of it.


The Social Media Monster

Social media has made it easier than ever before for the average Joe to reach out to celebrities and public figures than ever before. Not only can the public aim comments at anybody they like, but they can do so anonymously. Despite Twitter’s best efforts to block, ban, and abolish anonymous and fake accounts, these profiles still exist, and tweeters are still using them to harass and troll others.

It’s gotten to a point now where many high-profile Twitter users have reported their potential departure from the social media platform. Despite the large number of supportive followers, Twitter may see their numbers begin to dwindle if they don’t find a way to further decrease the level of negativity on their site. One such loss to the Twitterverse was announced last week when NY Times reported, M. Haberman tweeted her need to remove herself from social media except in direct regard to News and work-related materials. Haberman wasn’t the first to NY Times writer to take a step back from social media, H. C. Kang deleted his Twitter account altogether.


Journalism and Social Media

There’s something to be said about journalists putting themselves out there for public opinion, but the issue being addressed is in relation to the insulting and sometimes aggressive attacks on these figures. Some of the attacks are being directed at minorities and women in the media, completely unrelated to stories being broadcasted, but rather about the newscasters themselves. These personal attacks have sparked an intense debate throughout the Twitter world about whether many of these personalities should leave themselves open to such public comments and abuse via social media.

Social media seems like the perfect venue for journalism, putting him or her right in the middle of the public and the online community, but these recent attacks have many questioning whether social media makes it too easy for the public to share their negativity on a personal level.

It isn’t just journalists who are receiving the brunt of this online negativity; many political figures have taken a bashing this year as well. No political figure has taken more online trolling than the current President, Donald Trump. Memes, photos, quotes, and even video clips run amok across the internet depicting the president in an unlimited number of unflattering posts.


The Tweeting Public

These tweets don’t always come from the public; many negative and insulting tweets even come from public figures and celebrities. From actors like Seth Rogen, to business moguls like Elon Musk, pointed directly toward politicians and other figures. While it makes sense for public figures to take a stand for their beliefs, it comes at a cost when it occurs with aggressiveness and insults.

Should tweeters be allowed to throw insults and sling profanity? Should there be better enforcement put on the comments and tweets which include hate? Unfortunately, even with a resounding yes as the answer to these concerns, there seems to be little Twitter can do to police these activities, aside from monitoring each and every tweet before it’s sent.


How the Public Can Help

Aside from avoiding these negative posts, and disengaging in negative tweeting, the public can help by reporting tweets which target others in a rude or hurtful way. There comes a time when a line is drawn between harmless ribbing and serious hatefulness, and that time seems to be looming at the forefront, according to recent reports.

Twitter is already seeing a mass exodus in the form of those being harassed. This combined with the recent loss of hundreds of thousands of accounts which have been removed due to fake identities and trolling, means that Twitter could be in trouble on their member count and their stocks may follow suit. Lovers of the twitter platform can support the social media site by keeping Twitter clean and writing opinion posts which are politically correct and respectful of those involved.


The first amendment in the United States gives citizens the right to freedom of speech. This includes journalists and politicians. So, will Twitter resolve the issue or ignore it and hope that the negativity subsides on its own? This isn’t the first time social media has seen problems with negative comments, and it likely won’t be the last.