Send the trolls packing back under their bridges

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If you have kept up with the whole Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson fracas over the past few months, you will know that it does not look like it will be ending any time soon.

Briefly, Clarkson was let go from his position as presenter on the BBC’s hit Top Gear show earlier this month, causing an uproar among fans.

Sue Perkins:  Photo: PA

Sue Perkins: Photo: PA

Now, I do not want to get into a should he or shouldn’t he have been fired from Top Gear debate. The issue I have is that when rumours surfaced that Sue Perkins, who has an impressive portfolio as a comedienne, actress, broadcaster and writer, was going to take Clarkson’s seat on Top Gear she faced ‘The Troll’.

After she was announced as the bookmaker’s favourite to take on the role, Sue received abusive Tweets from supposed Top Gear fans telling her they would like to see her ‘burn to death’ and wished ‘she was dead’.

Now who would make such a horrific, dreadful statement? Trolls, that’s who. Anonymous, untraceable figures behind a screen, typing out unimaginable insults and threats who will face little to no repercussion for their actions.

Why? Because it’s near impossible to trace a troll. Social Media is quick, easy and accessible. You can as easily set up an account as you can delete one. Trolls seem to find solace in this anonymity, it seems to give them the strength to continue their online siege.

However, what they do not seem to realise is the dangerous path they leave behind them. The mark left on the victim of this online terror cannot be deleted. You can’t simply erase any trace of the insults to victims of online abuse, it can live with them for the rest of their life and be detrimental to their self-confidence and may even be fatal.

So what can we do? How can people fight something online? Well for one, we have to provide support for victims to know that it is the troll that has the problem, not them.

We need to know how accessible support is and how to find the ‘report’ button on social media. Trolls thrive from an audience, so let’s stop. The more users continue to engage and argue with trolls, the longer they will continue to inflict abuse. If you receive a horrible tweet from an unknown account, report it. If it starts to become more consistent, contact an online support group and find help available to deal with them.

Hopefully, this breed of online trolls will give up their keyboards and soon return to residing under bridges.