I was at a Westminster Skeptics event - social media panel on 24 September on the Outed, Outers and Outlaws of social media including:
once anonymous police blogger Nightjack outed by the Times;
outers (Peter Ede, @PME2013, revealed ‘Lord Credo’ to be no Downing St insider and here are his views on ‘Trolls’;
and ‘outlaws’ of social media like Paul Chambers of #twitterjoketrial fame.
It was a lively event and I didn’t get my question/point in. This post is based on the thoughts I would have been trying to encapsulate.
I tend to see things in criminological terms and have published on criminology and ...:
‘green’ issues (car use and litter)
masculinity (not only of criminals, victims, criminal justice agents but also of the majority of criminologists)
‘sexuality’ (what a ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ criminology might look like)
sport (the extent of crime within sport and its criminal justice systems)
but don’t offer criminology as a solution as I’m too skeptic.
A lot of the discussion that evening touched on what I saw as criminological themes of deviance and ethics and who, how and what to control on the internet. Some of this touched on how to deal with trolls. This, and related matters, is now the topic of earnest discussion in and with the prosecuting authorities and within the academic community.
I had known of and shared on facebook and twitter Clever Pie and Isabel Fay’s ‘Thank You Hater!’ but am glad to have come across serendipitously (an under-appreciated research method) Leo Traynor (@LeoTraynor) who claims to have a jaundiced eye but in meeting his troll he showed the spirit of Restorative Justice without explicitly mentioning it.
There are many definitions of Restorative Justice, some quite tightly tied to criminal justice or blended with community justice. Where I incline to it is in the writings of Nils Christie who on the topic of terrorists says:
In the Nordic countries we have our own breed of monsters, not quite as bad as terrorists, not evil all the way, but close to it. We call them Trolls. You do not treat Trolls. Nor do you train them, put them into programs for rehabilitation. It is a condition to be a Troll.
‘The Norwegian Trolls have one peculiar point of vulnerability. They are endangered by sunshine. By the first glimmer of sun that might find them, they crack or turn to stone. That is the explanation of the many strange stone-formations you find if you walk in the Norwegian mountains.’