They are the scourge of the Internet. They lurk in comment sections spewing hate and negativity. It's time to know all about Internet trolls.
They are skilled at making people lash out and rant on social media. They are keyboard terrorist who take pleasure in creating anger and negativity online.
It's a common sight, a celebrity lashing out at a troll in his or her comment section and just going berserk over some hurtful words.
ALSO READ: Should trolling be punishable by law?
On July 19, 2016, actress and comedian Leslie Jones left Twitter after she was the subject hate-filled tweets from several trolls on Twitter.
How did trolling start? Believe it or not, trolling started in the late 80's and the word appeared Oxford English Dictionary in 1992. So, do not think trolls popped up when Facebook was invented or when Instagram became the cool social media to be on.
With the explosion of social media within the last decade we have seen a growth in numbers of Internet trolls. Their is hardly any celebrity that is free of them. Trolling has become the dark side of trending. Hurtful words and mean statements are now common place online. You can call them a menace to peace and harmony on social media. We like to think that words don't hurt but they do and trolls have led to a breakdown to the mental health of many people.
On June 26, 2016 iconic American rapper Method Man left social media after a troll posted a photo of his wife on Twitter. "I've lost faith in human decency and I will not feed the trolls any longer. F--k u all. 1" tweeted the rapper before he left social media.
Method Man is one out of the many celebrities who have felt the brunt of Internet trolls. On July 6, 2016, BEAT FM on-air-personality Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi snapped back at a troll who called her ugly. In April, 2016 a troll blasted Niyola by saying "Many Saturdays don pass n u never marry Oluwa provide You a Groom." Nollywood actress Uche Jombo is a constant victim of trolling who body shame her.
Trolling is very rampant within the Nigerian entertainment scene. There are regular cases of singers, actors and actresses lashing out and ranting at trolls who are most probably laughing their heads off when they look at the screens of their mobile phones. Since the Internet is still relatively new and propelled by unrestricted freedom of expression, a lot of people get away with saying hurtful and demeaning things about other people. In some countries there are laws created specifically to curb Internet trolling.
But why do people troll? According to Alan Manevitz, M.D., a clinical psychiatrist who works with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City believes the freedom of speech with no checks spurs trolling. "There’s a freedom of speech without a fear of consequences. There’s no inhibition. It’s like being drunk" he told News Health.
In the United Kingdom there is the Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. The act is is directed towards derogatory and threatening messages sent on electronic communications networks that are public. It has been used to prosecute trolls in the United Kingdom.
Back in Nigeria there is no law that tries to stop Internet trolling for now. On Wednesday, July 20, 2016 the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed for first reading a Bill for an Act to Provide for the Protection of Human Rights online.
The bill which was sponsored by Rep. Chukwuemeka Ujam (PDP-Enugu) is titled 'Digital Rights and Freedom Bill’. While many Nigerians are against this bill because they believe the government will use it to witch hunt the opposition, Nigerian pop star Davido supports the bill.
In December 2015 Davido said “Fuck that shit nigga! They should pass that fucking social media bill because niggas have been talking shot Just wake up type shit. I don't understand” said the pop star who has been a target of trolls too.
In the future there might be a scenario where trolls would be jailed for what they say online in Nigeria. Unfortunately that time has not come. Anyone can say anything to anyone.