For most people, “trolling” refers to a form of online prank, where “trolls” make provocative posts or comments with the intent of creating emotional responses. The idea is to fool other users with their statements, making them react negatively and take their comments seriously. The joy for “trolls” is in tricking people, and although this activity is often at somebody else’s expense, it’s not malicious or harmful.
In recent times, however, the buzzword has become a euphemism for online harassment, which it was once not associated with. Targeted online abuse is now excused and brushed off by perpetrators who claim they we’re just “trolling”, or in other words “joking around”. The reality is, however, that these jokes are often very serious cases of harassment and are behaviours that would not be tolerated offline. There is a fine line between a relatively innocent online prank and targeted, consistent and personal online abuse. The evolution of the buzzword’s use is sanitising real cases of online harassment.
Is “trolling” punishable?
Whilst there are no specific laws that directly address “trolling”, there are laws in place that make varying types of online harassment a criminal act. Examples of online harassment include violation of privacy, publishing sexually offensive material, sexual harassment, defamation and stalking.
In a recent case, Griffin Law were instructed to end a campaign of online harassment in the form of false claims of rape and other malicious activities towards our client.
Our work to swiftly obtain an urgent injunction gave our client the needed relief from said harassment, although only briefly. The harassment continued when the guilty party used the courts as a means of harassment, by bringing a money claim against our client. We successfully unveiled this individual to have fabricated this claim, once again restoring equilibrium for our client.
The party was found guilty of malicious communications and perverting the course of justice. They were subsequently sentenced to 5 years.
To find out more about this case, visit: https://www.griffin.law/trolling-unmasking-the-trolls/