‘Fine line between trolling and threatening on social media’

Kolkata, Jan 25 (IANS) Twitter has emerged as a parallel universe for a large number of people, but there is a fine line separating trolling from “threatening” someone, says a leading user of the social media platform.

“Trolling someone on social media is not essentially bad as it is generally free from malice. Most of the trolling is actually good as the trolls point out the inconsistencies of one’s view point. However, giving death threats, rape threats and threats of violence in social media strictly falls in the red zone. That is not trolling anymore,” said Arnab Roy, who boast of more than 24,000 followers on the micro-blogging site.

The blogger-turned-author said the concept of trolling came in much before the advent of social media, but back then the engagements were much more personal and limited where people would argue by posting in the comments section of a blog.

“When I started off with blogs in as early as 2004, the interaction was much more direct and within a smaller community. So the trolls could be detected very easily. Also, there was no sharing on the walls of a social media website or a snarky tweet with a link to your blog back then,” he said while speaking at a session ‘Twitter, Trolls and Lols’ on the opening day of Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet.

Roy said trolling is a habit of continuously and obsessively arguing about something and not letting go, and both tweeting and trolling in the social media can act as a pointer of one’s social acceptance nowadays.

“Trolling is fun. The enjoyable part is in a social media website such as Twitter when you have the license to be vindictive without meaning any harm. You can highlight the inconsistencies and sometimes the lies of the so called influential and powerful of the society.”

According to Roy, who has trolled many and got trolled several times himself, the psychology of trolling works in two ways. While some do it for fun and engagements, others do it for social climbing and for them, trolling or tweeting is not a spontaneous response but “highly calculative”.

“The trolls are often social climbers. When a newcomer in Twitter takes on someone with five million followers and makes a valid point on some his inconsistencies or trolls in a really smart and funny way, he immediately gets noticed and in a year the person can have thousands of followers and become a famous public figure,” he said, citing a few examples of trolls in India, including one who later emerged as famous stand-up comedian.

–IANS

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