Trolling is becoming increasingly common. Every day somebody or the other is getting recklessly trolled for either their choice of clothes, actions or opinions. Trolling has crossed lines and has become outrightly abusive. They are rude and mean but more intensively abusive. Sexual abuses are hurled at women. Most of them also receive death, rape threats and worse.
While Online abuse has been a problem ever since the Internet was created, unfortunately, over the past few years, it seems to have escalated—despite the efforts of platforms like Twitter and Facebook to try to control it.
A report from the Pew Research Centre asked more than 1,500 technologists and academics about this kind of online behaviour. More than 80% of them replied that they expect the public discourse online will either stay the same or get worse over the next decade. Abusive trolling not only leads to depression and trauma, it has driven many to suicide as well. Trolls have also driven women out of the cyberspace.
Read other stories in #TryTrollHer here
It’s appalling to see many exiting social spaces due to the impact of trolling.
It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible. It’s so beyond me.
The Hunger Games Star, Jennifer Lawrence is nowhere in the cyberspace. According to The Telegraph, “She told Radio 1: ‘I’ll never get Twitter. If you ever see a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter that says it’s me, it’s not me.’When asked why she added: ‘Because the internet has scorned me so much.’ Earlier this year, she spoke to Vanity Fair about the hacked images. “It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these websites are responsible. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside’.” This was said in 2014 and until now, she has no account online.
“If you remain silent, you are complicit in normalising it; if you call them out — as I have several times — you are once again told as I was: Who would rape you?”
Barkha Dutt has been receiving constant flak from people over the years. She wrote an article in the Hindustan Times as a part of their Let’s talk about trolls’ campaign. She says, “While on the subject, rape threats to women are startlingly commonplace on social media. Once again, we forget that rape is a weapon of mass control; an age-old atavistic assertion of male power. It has nothing to do with sex, other than to use it as a vehicle of abuse. Yet, on forums like Twitter, rape threats are treated like a privilege bestowed on you. If you remain silent, you are complicit in normalising it; if you call them out — as I have several times — you are once again told as I was: Who would rape you?”
Rape and death threats have become the weapon for shutting women down and stripping them of their rights.
The amount of such threats has led many to think if there is a cyber cult involved in such practices. While celebrities are at the receiving end most of the time, someone like Gurmehar Kaur, a student was tossed with death and rape threats during the Ramjas issue. She was recently driven off Facebook where she received extensive rape and death threats for her campaign. A lot was spoken about her campaign which ultimately led her to leave the city.
Such abusive threats and trolls are thrown only at women. Men who commit such horrendous crimes are never receiving threats from the troll makers and cyberspace abusers. Women are scrutinized for the clothes that they wear and the opinion they hold. Someone like Fatima Sana Shaikh was criticized for wearing a saree as well as a bikini. What do these troll makers approve of? Or do women need their approval? Time for us and especially the troll makers to ponder upon.
Reshma Ganeshbabu is an intern with SheThePeople.TV