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Boredom is to blame for most cyberbullying incidents, claims expert who's identified the key tactics of trolls

Research is based on 4,000 online cases involving claims of trolling Trolls operate out of a feeling of power, amusement, boredom and revenge and thrive on the anonymity that the internet provides Celebrities such as Jessie J and Duncan James have been victims of trolling
By Sarah Griffiths PUBLISHED: 12:03 GMT, 27 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:03 GMT, 27 June 2013

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Trolls operate out of a feeling of power, amusement, boredom and revenge and thrive on the anonymity which the internet provides, new research suggests

Boredom is behind many incidents of cyberbullying and trolling on social media sites, according to the first major study into the matter. Linguistics expert Dr Claire Hardaker, of Lancaster University, studied almost 4,000 online cases involving claims of trolling. She has revealed the methods most regularly used by trolls on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to trigger outrage for their own amusement. Trolling is a phenomenon that has swept across websites in recent years where online forums, Facebook pages and newspaper comment forms are bombarded with insults, provocations or threats. Supporters argue that it is about humour, mischief and freedom of speech, but for many the ferocity and personal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech. Trolls operate out of a feeling of power, amusement, boredom and revenge and thrive on the anonymity which the internet provides, said Dr Hardaker. She believes people need to be more aware of how trolls operate to counter their effect and, as a result, has identified seven tactics that trolls commonly use and why they are so effective. They range from deliberately digressing from a subject to focus on a more sensitive topic to provoke reaction to endangering others by giving advice, perhaps to cause harm or force others to respond to prevent harm. Dr Hardaker also lists other strategies such as shocking others by talking about taboo topics and repeatedly re-posting the same offensive messages to multiple groups as 'deadly sins' of cyberbullies. She said: 'Aggression, 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.'

She also warns that trolling can in some cases develop into more serious behaviour, including cyberharassment and cyberstalking. Her research also reveals that trolling is not just about being directly abusive or shocking, with more covert methods being used to wreck and cause havoc to online discussions. The research is part of Dr Hardaker's wider work examining the dark side of the internet including bullying, hoaxing, grooming and online harassment. It has been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Language, Aggression and Conflict. Dr Hardaker is currently looking at a range of anti-social internet behaviour including cyberbullying, which has seen a rising number of schoolchildren taking their own lives.

Jessie J and Duncan James have both endured trolling and were bombarded with nasty messages on Twitter. Trolling can in some cases develop into more serious behaviour including cyberharassment and cyberstalking

She is also researching trolling and the cases of trolls mocking untimely and tragic deaths online, which are also increasing. A number of celebrities have become the victims of trolls, including Blue star Duncan James, who recently revealed he received several homophobic messages on Twitter. The Voice judge Jessie J has also been the subject of abuse on the social media network. However, it is not just celebrities who are being targeted by the trolls, as discussion forums and messageboards are increasingly being hit and disrupted by cyberbullies. Dr Hardaker said: 'The image of trolling is that it is mainly the work of young people, but the fact is trolls come

from all ages and backgrounds. 'They will use different strategies to trigger the response they want from people. Some of these are a lot sneakier than others. It is not just about personal abuse. 'An incredible amount of time and strategy can be involved in trolling, as my research into the techniques they use highlights.' Dr Hardaker believes that the aggravation typically springs from the degradation of the 'signal-to-noise' ratio. 'The time-wasting noise of one troll-post is relatively easily ignored, but the noise of hundreds of replies to the troll-post, and complaints about those replies, can entirely drown out the worthwhile content,' she said.

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF TROLLING AND WHY THEY ARE SO EFFECTIVE
Digressing from the topic at hand, especially onto sensitive topics. Not necessarily overtly argumentative, this tactic frustrates its targets with its pointlessness and circularity. Digression onto sensitive topics triggers the strongest reactions. Hypocriticising, especially for a fault that the critic then displays him/herself. A simple tactic, often this is pedantic criticism of grammar, spelling or punctuation in a post which itself contains proof-reading errors to provoke exasperated responses from others. Antipathising, by taking up an alienating position by asking pseudo-naive questions, for example. This tactic is heavily reliant on deceiving the group it is aimed at and covertly manipulates egos, sensitivities, morals and feelings of guilt, usually to trigger emotional responses. It can also create moral dilemmas. Endangering others by giving dangerous advice such as encouraging risky behaviour. A trolling strategy designed to masquerade as help or advice while actually causing harm and/or forcing others to respond to prevent harm. It relies on the targets social responsibility and moral obligation. Shocking others by being insensitive about sensitive topics or explicit about taboo topics. This appears to succeed mainly due to the strength of feeling provoked by the deeply personal and extraordinarily hurtful nature of the trolls insensitivity. It triggers a desire to retaliate that is stronger than the desire to deny the troll the satisfaction of a response. Aggressing others by insulting, threatening, or otherwise plainly attacking them without adequate provocation. This is open and deliberate aggression without any clear justification with the aim of antagonising its target into retaliating. Crossposting - sending the same offensive or provocative message to multiple groups then waiting for the response. The message sent by the troll in this tactic is totally off topic and irrelevant. This deliberately careless spamming tactic can result in potentially thousands of users being inundated with unwanted or irrelevant messages.

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Comments (35)
Newest Oldest Best rated Worst rated View all So boredom explains half of your articles then DM? - Sir , Kill a Lot, United Kingdom, 29/6/2013 06:25 Click to rate Report abuse Once you have been cyber bullied it affects you for the rest of your life. You never forget it and it cause massive psychological damage. The law is lapse because when it is multiple people in many countries, who do you turn to? Even then, if police are involved other tactics are used by them. If THEY have it in for you, it can ruin your life. - Fret , Portsmouth, United Kingdom, 28/6/2013 19:30 Click to rate Report abuse What a shocking discovery. - marley-82 , Lexington, United States, 28/6/2013 16:00 Click to rate Report abuse Get your terminology right! "Trolling" is not equal to "bullying"! they are not synonyms. Trolling is tricking a person into making a fool out of themselves, the person him/herself has to be the active party (most often posting a fake "ignorant" opinion or question about some topic that has obsessive followers, e.g. on religious, new age, political forums, any types of fan pages, etc.) Then the "trolls" will sit back and get a laugh out of how the obsessive people get angry and try to make their point, the most narrow minded of them going into ridiculous extremes. The idea is that the result has to be witty and funny, not that there is some victim who gets hurt. "Trolling" is playing harmless pranks, "bullying" is violence, e.g. calling somebody names, publishing private material, harassing. There already exist the terms "bullying" and "bully", why are you trying to turn "trolling" and "troll" into their 100% synonyms? - Triinu , Tallinn, 28/6/2013 11:22 Click to rate Report abuse They are not bored. Just plain nasty! - SD , Cmb, 28/6/2013 09:46 Click to rate Report abuse If we had proper inet security, so that you could only use one, verified profilem, there would be far less Trolls.an heros) - Russel Hobbs , Bratislava, Kyrgyzstan, 28/6/2013 06:51 Click to rate Report abuse Rating (0) Rating 10 Rating 1 Rating 2 Rating (0) Rating 2

Whoever wrote this dribble is full of crap or I wouldn't be wasting my time calling him an imbecile ?? - Jack , London, 28/6/2013 02:26 Click to rate Report abuse Great article. Similar thing is happening to me, my ex colleague hacked my emails, sent out 2000+ emails and wrote horrrrible things about me on blogs (after I politely asked whether we could just be friends ). I'm trying to get the sites down as it is so embarrassing. Any suggestions to what to do would be appreciated... - artyyy , london, United Kingdom, 28/6/2013 00:26 Click to rate Report abuse Trolls are trolls because its easy to do with the internet. You wanted a world connected as one with no fear of persecution for freedom of speech? This is part of the deal. - paisa75 , South Florida, United States, 28/6/2013 00:24 Click to rate Report abuse Yes, boredom because they spend too much time judging and not enough time living. - Gemma1 , Stoke On Trent, 27/6/2013 21:50 Click to rate Report abuse Share this comment The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Today's headlines Most Read Who needs headphones? Man has 'speakers' IMPLANTED in his ears so he can listen to music all the time The Loch Ness monster is nothing more than BUBBLES: Italian scientist claims Nessie is simply a geological phenomenon Archaeologists seek to unearth more secrets from Richard III's final resting place by starting second dig in car park Teenager beats tech giants to launch world's first smart WATCH that makes calls and comes with a built-in camera Frankenstein-style HEAD transplants could soon be a reality, claims leading surgeon Are men LESS into sex than they realise? New study finds they exaggerate how often they think about it (and how much sex they actually have) Scientists discover the oldest grave flowers from 14,000 years ago - when the dead were buried with mint and sage Is Apple gearing up to release TWO new phones in September? Rumours suggest the release date for faster and cheaper phones The end of the world is (almost) nigh: Scientists predict that all life will be wiped off our planet in less than a billion years The new enemy of the planet! As the new Bank of England chief's wife attacks them, are humble tea bags really doing untold damage? Apple applies for 'iWatch' trademark in Japan, just weeks after CEO said wearable products were 'ripe for exploration' Now you can send your own personalised spacecraft to the moon for just 99 - and monitor it as it travels through space One small steer for man: Astronaut becomes the first person in space to drive a robot on EARTH Unplug those mobiles! For best battery life, do NOT charge your phone to 100% Violent images in movies, TV or computer games CAN act as triggers for aggression, says new report It takes two: The camera that lets couples take individual photos at the SAME TIME to make a single picture Skeleton found buried beneath Lincoln Castle could belong to a Saxon king dating back more than 1,000 YEARS MORE HEADLINES The new enemy of the planet! As the new Bank of England chief's wife attacks them, are humble tea bags really doing untold Rating 20 Rating 11 Rating 7 Rating 1

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