Four Corners: June 19

Four Corners this week presents “Rise of the Trolls: The dark side of the internet” from Canadian film-maker John Baltrusaitis and discovers some of the trolls are not what we would expect.

“They do it because they want to get a reaction. They want to see me lash out and it all feeds into this sick and twisted entertainment value to them.” Blogger

The digital revolution has transformed our world. Never in human history have we been more connected to each other in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only a decade ago. But with the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and a smartphone in virtually every pocket, the internet bullies known as trolls are only ever a click, tap or swipe away.

“We want to make them cry. We love to make them cry.” Troll

Instead of bringing people together, trolls use the internet to target those they disagree with by provoking, harassing and threatening them.

“It may be that the internet has unleashed a kind of dark demon, within millions of people out there in the general public.” Psychiatrist

On Monday night Four Corners takes you into the dark side of the internet to explore the rise of cyber trolls.

“They send things to my home. It terrifies me to think what they could do, if they wanted to, knowing exactly where I live, knowing where my children go to school.” Blogger

Many trolls go to great lengths to try and hide their identity and as the program explores, psychiatrists believe this is helping to propel the appalling behaviour.

“Anonymity seems to be a very important factor on the internet, in that it seems to make people less inhibited about doing nasty things.” Psychiatrist

One self-proclaimed hard core troll outlines the trolling landscape and boasts about his extensive conquests, all while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.

“I’ve been associated with all kinds of organised trolling groups…The Internet presented something that was never available to us before.” Troll

And some of the trolls are not who you’d expect.

“The trolls and the really dangerous people that I attract are, themselves, mothers and have small children at home.” Blogger

We meet Britain’s most notorious troll, jailed for sending threatening tweets, and a campaigner in Canada as he goes on trial after a confrontation on Twitter.

“If you’re hurt, if the truth hurts you, it’s not my problem, because I’m just telling the truth.” Canadian Activist

The prosecution of trolls raises uncomfortable questions about how far our commitment to freedom of expression goes. Activists are warning of an Orwellian future of thought police.

“Trolling is a free speech issue and if you aren’t free to hate someone then you’re not free… If we are serious about freedom of speech, then we have to allow people to say hateful, obnoxious, racist, sexist things.” Magazine Editor

Monday 19th June at 8.30pm on ABC.

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