Is Further Exclusion the Solution to Troll Problem?

By Patrick Brogan

In the UK, the Electoral Commission suggested that taking the vote away from people who abuse others on social media as a potential punishment. No rational person can look at what happens on social media and think this isn’t an issue, but is further exclusion really the answer?

There is a daily torrent of abuse online, most of it directed at women and people of a different race. While it might be easy to paint all online trolls as white, middle-aged, unemployed men, the reality is more complex than that. I would argue that these people do share one trait in common; they hold no stake in society.

This has led to frustration, and then they vent it online. Online accounts, like on Facebook and Twitter, are generally the only direct way to get the attention of politicians. While this is good in itself, many abuse this privilege and abuse those holding the accounts. The Electoral Commission was investigating complaints brought forth by politicians in the UK that they had suffered serious abuse and threats while canvassing in the last general election there.

This is serious and such behaviour should be strongly condemned. However, is further exclusion for those that are marginalised really the answer? This is creating a two-tier society. While those responsible should be punished, it should be proportionate and not lead to their banishment.

A better solution would be creating a more inclusive society, one where there is more accountability and where democracy is active rather than a buzzword. Politicians are often seen as the puppets for those in the corporate world and there is some justification for this. Something like a direct democracy system would solve this. Politicians need to be more accountable and this is where this frustration is coming from. Making them less accountable will not help society.


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