Boredom and amusement are behind many incidents of cyber-bullying and
trolling on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, a new
first-of-its-kind study has found.
The research by Lancaster
University in UK, suggests that those who engage in trolling - Internet
user behaviour that is meant to intentionally anger or frustrate someone
else in order to provoke a response - do so for their own amusement and
because they are bored.
Dr Claire Hardaker, a linguistics expert
from the University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, studied
almost 4,000 online cases involving claims of trolling, The Independent
Trolls operate out of a feeling of power, amusement,
boredom and revenge and thrive on the anonymity which the Internet
provides, she found.
The research identified seven tactics used by trolls to bombard their victims with insults and threats.
seven tactics include digressing from the topic at hand, especially
onto sensitive topics, and hypocriticising - pedantic criticism of
grammar, spelling or punctuation in a post which itself contains
Antipathising, by taking up an alienating
position, asking pseudo-naive questions is another tactic used by trolls
besides giving dangerous advice and encouraging risky behaviour.
also employ 'shock strategy' by being insensitive about sensitive
topics, explicit about taboo topics, etc. They also provoke others by
insulting or threatening them.
They may cross-post - sending the same offensive or provocative message to multiple groups then waiting for the response.
deception and manipulation are increasingly part of online interaction,
yet many users are unaware not only that some of these behaviours
exist, but of how destructive and insidious they can be," Hardaker said.
She also found that while trolling is associated with the young, trolls come from all ages and backgrounds.
incredible amount of time and strategy can be involved in trolling, as
my research into the techniques they use highlights," she said.
She warned that trolling can in some cases develop into more serious behaviour, including cyberharassment and cyberstalking.
The study was published in the Journal of Language, Aggression and Conflict.