- Trolling is a term that was coined in 1992 and is frequently used in regard to the internet.
- Trolling is defined as the intentional manufacture of dissension on the internet through the use of harsh language, with the purpose to argue or criticize others with inappropriate language in order to get cheap publicity.
- A social media troll is someone who says something provocative on purpose in order to attract the attention of other users.
- In some circumstances, the troll's desire for attention is so strong that he or she frequently uses exceedingly obscene language and abuses in their remarks.
- These often-expressed comments are frequently unconnected to the issue.
In today's world, social media has become ingrained in the lives of a large number of people. 3.17 billion people utilize the internet and social media out of the world's 7.3 billion inhabitants.
Trolls have long been a part of mythology and fantasy literature, but online trolling has been around almost as long as the internet. The term's first documented use dates back to the 1990s on early online discussion boards. It used to be a strategy for people to deceive new members by posting an inside joke constantly. It has since evolved into a far more nefarious enterprise.
Trolling has become a serious problem in today's world of social media, especially on social media platforms. Trolling affects a wide range of people, the majority of whom are celebrities. To name a few, Sushma Swaraj was chastised for assisting a couple of mixed faiths. Saina Nehwal, a badminton player, was mocked when she lost in the second round of the Rio Olympics, whereas P. V Sindhu did better.These trolls did not affect Sushma Swaraj or Saina Nehwal, but one cannot expect everyone who meets the troll to be as strong as them.
An internet troll, also known as an online bully, publishes disparaging comments on Facebook postings, blogs, YouTube videos, forums, and other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram with the intent of offending, causing trouble, or actively attacking people. Not every disagreement is trolling; a difference of view can lead to genuine debate, which can be beneficial on forums. Trolling is defined as "a purposefully insulting or provocative online message with the intent of upsetting someone or evoking an angry response from them," according to the Oxford Dictionary. Trolls come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including:
- The troll who simply publishes harsh comments for the purpose of it. They don't have to know the person or have a motive to make derogatory remarks.
- The always offended trolls are masters at converting a lighthearted piece of content into something bitter and insulting.
- The show-off trolls choose not to participate in debates and instead like to express their views without having any prior understanding of the topic at hand.
- The "look at me" troll isn't interested in what you have to say; instead, they're trying to get you to visit their page, buy anything from them, download their stuff, or follow them.
Trolls are those who use social media and other platforms to make derogatory or provocative statements or comments in order to annoy others. Trolls make such statements or comments on social media or elsewhere with the sole purpose of injuring others' sensitivities and feelings and eliciting an angry response. Their messages have the ability to divert people's attention away from the main topic and onto their abusive, illicit, or contentious comments/remarks. Trolls can go as far as sending rude and vulgar messages, making personal insults and comments about your family, children, and friends, and even threatening to kill you. Trolling is most common on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as blogs, email, and YouTube. Trolls have the potential to lower the general quality of online debates or discussions and persuade people to believe what they say. Because of the high volume of online trolling these days, some websites have had to disable the ability to comment on their articles/posts in order to deter trolling. Many times, trolling occurs when people express their disapproval of something on social media, but there are times when you are trolled for no apparent reason. Trolling has the potential to turn into a serious form of cyberbullying.
Though no single law specifically addresses this developing concern, Indian laws such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 and the Information Technology (Amendment) Act (IT Act) of 2008 make trolling a criminal act that is punishable by law. In the event that you are cyberbullied, you must know what to do. Here are some laws that can assist you in combating internet bullies:
Violation of Privacy- A person who willfully obtains photographs or films of another person's genital parts without her consent and publishes them in print or electronic form can be sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of Rs. 2 lakhs under Section 66E of the IT Act.
Publishing Sexually Offensive Material on the Internet - Under Section 67 of the IT Act, anyone who publishes offensive sexual information on the internet in an electronic media faces up to three years in prison and a fine of Rs.10 lakh. A repeat offender faces a sentence of seven years in jail and a fine of the same amount.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) (IPC)
- Sexual Harassment — When someone makes inappropriate comments on social media, they are responsible under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code and can be sentenced to a year in prison and a fine. Posting or texting pornographic content against a woman's consent, as well as demanding or seeking sexual favors, are all punishable by three years in prison and/or a fine.
- Voyeurism — If a person witnesses or records an image of a woman doing a private act and subsequently distribute those images/videos, etc., that person may face legal action under Section 354C of the Indian Penal Code. A photograph of a naked lady, using the restroom, or a woman engaging in sexual actions are all examples of the aforementioned offense.
- Online Stalking - A person who tries to contact a woman and nurture personal engagement despite her disinterest and monitors her over the internet, email, or any other electronic communication is guilty of stalking under Section 354D and faces a sentence of up to three years in jail and a fine. If this happens again, the repeat offender will be sentenced to five years in prison plus a fine.
- Outraging a Woman's Modesty - A person who shamelessly broadcasts sexual remarks, images, or videos on social media, or any gesture or object that a woman can see is entitled to be prosecuted under Section 509 IPC, which carries a sentence of three years in prison and a fine.
- If someone makes false statements or publishes something solely to hurt your reputation, he or she may be charged with defamation under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code. This offense also includes comments made on social media, as well as obscene photographs or videos posted for public viewing.
- Criminal intimidation– Under Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code, anyone who threatens a woman with the purpose to harm her and conceals his or her identity by taking precautions can be imprisoned for up to two years. This is particularly useful and successful in dealing with online trolls or rape threats because a complaint can be filed against the harasser without knowing his or her identity.
In Avinash Bajaj v State, the court ruled that anyone who publishes, transmits, or causes to be published in electronic form any material that is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest, or if its effect is such that it tends to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, taking all relevant circumstances into account, to read, see, or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished. The software developer in Shiv Prasad Sajjan v State (2018) shared obscene images of their victims through a cybercafe. To defend himself, he had become a lawyer. Despite being a software engineer and having studied law, he was unable to defend himself.
Internationally adopted measures include:
1. The United Kingdom (UK)
The United Kingdom has attempted to virtually stop trolling by enacting several laws. The Malicious Communications Act, for example, states that anyone who sends a letter, electronic communication, or article of any kind to a person that contains an indecent or highly offensive message, a threat, or false information, or causes distress or anxiety to the recipient or any other person is guilty of an offense. Multiple criminal reports and subsequent convictions have been registered in the United Kingdom based on this statute, as well as other statutes, albeit for a brief period of incarceration.
2. Other countries
Cyberbullying, as well as trolling, where abusive posts are made public, has become a criminal violation in Japan, the United States, and several European countries.
3. The Issues with Indian Law:
The Information Technology Act of 2000 was enacted to solve this problem, albeit the form and manner in which the provisions were written left a lot to be desired. As a result, the legislature included measures effectively criminalizing the act of sending obscene, sexually explicit, intrusive, or offensive texts. These safeguards were put in place to avoid offenses like trolling, cyberstalking, and cyberbullying.
Unfortunately, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which dealt with offensive messages, was declared unconstitutional because it went against the guarantee of freedom of speech and expression enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
What can be done?
All web platforms should be required to include a specific icon/tool that allows the user/person being trolled to ban a specific troll or report a troll. When a troll is reported, not only should the comment be removed immediately, but the troll should also be barred from posting any additional messages on the user's platform or in response to the user's comment unless the person who was trolled expressly consents. Similarly, if the troll has been reported by numerous users, the media platform should cancel the troll's account rather than allowing him to cause and wreak havoc.
Aside from that, once multiple accounts are deactivated, each web platform, particularly social media platforms, should be required to communicate with the local jurisdiction's cyber cell or police station within a certain time frame to hand over a list of people who have been reported by multiple people who have been trolled. As a result, each of these trolls should face criminal charges. Using the deterrence hypothesis, one might expect a significant drop in harsh language on the internet. Additionally, the data/statistics gathered should be publicized on each website so that people can grasp the seriousness of the problem.
The Legislature should introduce a scaled-down version of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, by balancing the right to freedom of speech and expression and guaranteeing proper protections, as the Supreme Court verdict has left a hole in the Information Technology Act, 2000. While I believe that defining trolling is difficult, if not impossible (because of its subjective character), the Legislature must take steps to prevent such delinquent inclinations without jeopardizing freedom of speech and expression in order to withstand court review, if necessary.
Every citizen, without a doubt, has the right to freedom of speech and expression. Every person who creates an online account has the right to post on it, allowing him to exercise his right to freedom of speech and expression. However, this internet user's right must not be absolute and needs to be subject to limitations. A person who creates a social media account must act civilly and observe certain standards, in order to exercise his right to freedom of speech and expression while simultaneously protecting the rights of others, such as the right to reputation, right to privacy, and so on.