Time Magazine It was a bad week for Internet trolls. News of the tragic suicide of 16-year-old Canadian Amanda Todd after an ugly incident of stalking, bullying and blackmail hit just as Reddit’s biggest troll, responsible for numerous highly offensive postings in sections with names like “rape bait,” was finally outed. Both stories involved nonconsensual distribution of sexualized images of young girls. [...]
So why do trolls do what they do? Clearly, we have an Internet culture that enables them [...] For one, trolls benefit from the lack of face-to-face interaction on the Web, which allows them to say outrageous things that would get them ostracized or even beaten if said in the real world. For people who are relatively isolated and feel powerless in their ordinary lives — as Brutsch appears to be — the Net provides a world where they can wield power and influence others.
Unlike most real-world bullies, trolls online can find a large ready-made audience that consistently encourages them, without any negative consequences [...] The anonymity of trolling for trouble on the Internet, however, may bring out a particular type of pathological behavior. In full-fledged psychopathy, there is a physical fearlessness that’s lacking in trolls. “They don’t act up in everyday life because they are frightened of sanctions,” says Dutton. “They’re nasty cowards, but when you get them on the Web, that fearlessness doesn’t matter anymore because there are no consequences. That’s the kind of person being unlocked here.”[...]Like other bullies, trolls also need to get a rise out of their victims if they are to enjoy the interaction. That’s why “don’t feed the trolls” is a constant admonition on many comment boards: their biggest fear is being disregarded and made irrelevant.