The Only Way Is Ethics.

Otherwise known as ‘The One Where Andy Thought of the Title Before the Content’.

On first inspection, I think it’s obvious that there is a massive link between this topic on ethics and how some of the strands of discussion developed during topic 2. In my reflection article I touched on the subject of Twitter trolling, a subject which this Guardian article featured in the starter post for this topic discusses in detail. Therefore, in the spirit of coherency, I thought it might be nice to continue with the theme. I decided to create a Powtoon to set up the issue I’ve chosen, and to add a little spice to this week’s output!

The link here to educational uses of social media is the Mary Beard example quoted in the above video. Unless we can find a way of dealing with the issue of trolling, the problem is going to get larger and larger until any user with a large number of followers will be subjected to this abuse. As shown, women with great intelligence can often threaten men who have little, so women aiming to educate from their Twitter accounts might be at the greatest risk of having their physical appearance picked apart and then horrible threats made to them.

Why do the trolls even do it? Well, an article from the Psychology journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’ (fantastically called ‘Trolls just want to have fun’) suggests that trolling was linked to Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism, which does, as the title suggested, say that these trolls are doing it because they find causing offence and hurting people to be enjoyable activities. Unfortunately, that makes them harder to stop.

So, what are we going to do? It’s the kind of question that until you start thinking about it sounds hard, and when you’ve thought about it, sounds even harder. This Guardian article (I’ve been reading the Guardian too much, it seems) suggests a large number of ways of dealing with these trolls, but unfortunately every single one of them met with cons as well as pros. I think the lesson in that is that we need to tackle it from multiple angles – While the con for “report abusive tweets to police” is “police have to balance conflicting demands on their time: is a rape threat on Twitter more urgent than a real-life stalker or online fraud?”, I’d say that if we haven’t got enough police to deal with the issues, that’s more a recruitment error than a con. We do need these online police teams to stop those out to verbally abuse and attack the great and the good, and these trolls need to be brought to justice.

References:

Arthur, Charles, & Kiss, Jemima, 2013. Twitter abuse: what can be done to stop trolling?. The Guardian.

Buckels, Erin E., Trapnell, Paul D., & Paulhus, Delroy L., 2014. Trolls just want to have fun. Personality and Individual Differences, 67. 

Harris, Lisa, 2014. UOSM2033 Topic 4 Starting Post.

Urban Dictionary: Trolling

Editorial, 2014. Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger. The Guardian.

Mead, Rebecca, 2014. The Troll Slayer. A piece on Mary Beard in ‘The New Yorker’. (Used for Powtoon)

Andy Sugden, Powtoon & Youtube, 2014.

The Holloways, 2009. Under a Cloud from No Smoke, No Mirrors. (The only song I could find in my collection with lyrics related to the internet!)

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7 thoughts on “The Only Way Is Ethics.

  1. Hi Andy,

    First of all I just have to say I love the title!

    I’m not sure if you have seen, but I saw the other day on Facebook an article was trending about a young man who has become the first person in the UK to be jailed for sending revenge porn (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/14/man-jailed-revenge-porn-whatsapp). I know your blog post this week dealt with the topic of trolling, but I was wondering how you felt about this idea of being sent to prison for things that are done online?

    Whilst sending a few mean tweets isn’t the same as distributing explicit material, at what point do you think trolling becomes a crime? It is interesting how you point out that there feels to be a difference between tweeting a threat and actually saying it in the “real world”.

    Sophie

    Like

    • I think the reason that trolling exists at all is that people feel they can hide behind their computer screens and therefore say these things that they would never do in real life. The problem is, if you’re being threatened with rape and death, you’re going to be scared or put off whether that’s in real life or on Twitter.

      Personally, I think the police should chase as many of these cases as possible, because I think when these people realise that their actions will actually have real life consequences, they will stop.

      Like

  2. HI Andy, loved the video, very creative!

    With relation to the comments you made on Sophie’s post, you said: ‘Personally, I think the police should chase as many of these cases as possible’.

    Do you think the police force have time to track down people and prosecute? I may be wrong on this, but a lot of this awareness isn’t due to high prosecution rates; rather, self funded independent bodies and individuals. One iconic one I can think of is the Paedophile hunter aka Stinson Hunter who tracked down paedophiles and is now working closely with the police. Whilst twitter trolling and sexual abuse are different things, the principle of a lack police body is prevalent.

    I do not think the police have the resources to chase these ‘trolls’. With police numbers always falling, such a task would be infeasible.

    What do you think?

    Like

    • I obviously agree on the point that we don’t really have enough police resources to chase all these trolls, but I think my response to that is that it’s more a problem of the public funding system than anything else.
      Simply put, as far as I see it, if we don’t have enough police officers to deal with all the crime, my stance would be to get more police officers, rather than the small-government alternative of ‘make less things crime/don’t chase less serious crime’ that you suggest!

      EDIT – Also, I think a lot of this could be solved without prosecution… a simple warning letter to the trolls, telling them another offence will result in prosecution and linking their behaviour back to the real world would be enough for a lot of the to realise it could have proper effects.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Andy 🙂

    I liked your coherency of posts and how you are continuing to include a Twitter theme in them.

    You mention online police, and how we need them to help reduce the issue of trolling. It got me thinking how police can control ones information online, if the population online is increasing. Statistics taken from Internet World Stats have suggested that there has been an increase of approx. 680% since 2000 of online users, totalling just under 3 billion users. As a result, ethical and security has been growing, and in my opinion will continue to develop and grow. How are police supposed to match this and reduce issue of trolling, before it spirals out of control?

    Freya

    Like

    • Some call it coherency, some might say I’m not as good at talking about anything else. 😉

      The thing is with trolling that the want to do it is purely a personality issue in certain individuals – it’s not like any other online crime such as bank fraud, with trolling, the perpetrator doesn’t actually get anything out of it except the satisfaction of making someone else unhappy. The fact is that we are way behind the game on all kinds of cybercrime, as the police forces have not kept up with the wave of technology they are facing, so a good investment now would be to get us up to speed.

      As for the massive increase, it’s largely as a result of many other countries getting the web – I’m largely talking about the UK in my post/other comments 🙂

      Like

  4. Pingback: All good things must end. | Andy Sugden

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