How Being An Internet Troll Can Get You Sued

I’m dealing with fools and trolls and soft targets. It’s just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee. I don’t have time for these clowns. -Charlie Sheen

The World Wide Web. That’s exactly what it is, worldwide. One thing you certainly learn as you grow older is that in this wide world, there are a wide variety of people that inhabit it. As such, with so many different types of people, there are bound to be some bad apples in the bunch. In Internet terms, these bad apples are called trolls. You should remember that name, because it is the best way to explain these types of people.

What Is An Internet Troll
Trolls troll, and go trolling about in their daily lives. When a troll laughs, they trollolol. Trolls have no doubt even been trolled themselves, and would explain their actions as trollific, in essence, they’re all trollaholics at heart.  And in the Trolling world, they are all seemingly competing for the almighty Trollphy. But, this article is not intended to admonish trolls, because without them, the Internet would not be the same. Because even though trolls troll, they all do it for the lulz, with rarely any real harm intended.

If their name is not descriptive enough, Internet trolls are those that are purposefully evil online in order to upset others for no others reason than to upset them. This makes trolls happy. They often don’t ever mean what they say, and do their deeds for the sake of seemingly dark humor. But this humor can get trolls into a lot of trouble with the law if it’s taken too far.

How Trolling Can Get You Into Trouble With The Law
There are essentially three areas of the law that trolls often break when doing their dastardly deeds. Each of these areas indeed do have consequences if the trolls actual identities are known or can be figured out. So it would behoove anybody who is a troll themselves (and you know who you are), or knows a troll to inform them of this information. Because it may well keep them from having to encounter old Johnny Law in the future. Not to mention, if it deters them completely, you would be doing the online community a service by cleaning up their acts.

Harassment
In case you had not known this, harassing another individual is illegal. It is one of the reasons restraining orders are around. Now harassment doesn’t have to be done in person. If a person frequently and continually harasses, or trolls, another person on a social media site, email, IM, or any other online form, this is illegal and actions can be taken. If it goes on for too long, the victim can actually sue you for decreasing their quality of life. And can you imagine what someone’s quality of life is worth? The answer is more than your comments were probably worth.

Threatening Harm Upon Another
Empty threats are prolific in the online gaming community. For some games, it’s seemingly a right of passage, a trial by fire where if you can’t take the heat, you probably won’t stick around very long. So imagine a place where only the strongest have been able to withstand the hellfire of trolls. Chances are it is because they themselves are trolls and feel at home, or actually realize peoples comments made anonymously aren’t worth worrying over.

But if you are being trolled, lets say by a person you go to school with and see on a daily basis, their comments if threatening may actually be alarming to you. Enough so to raise concern over their safety, as often times online emotions run wild, and insanely terrible things are said, and at times even promised. If a person you know threatens you, it doesn’t matter the medium at which they tell you, or the reason behind it. The fact is a threat was made, and that’s all that need be known for law enforcement to step in. After all, you shouldn’t take violent threats lightly since some people do indeed mean every word they say.

Defamation and Libel
This is a specifically sticky situation that countless people often allow themselves to become involved in. Or rather perhaps its just a trolls intention to troll. But when you post on your Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media, the intention is to allow any and everyone to view it. Now if your post was intended to slander another person, regardless of whether or not you actually know them, you can be sued for defamation and libel. There is a reason those laws exist, and it is so that venomous lies cannot be spread about you even though we are all protected by the freedom of speech. Apparently our forefathers didn’t think that should cover and protect trolls either.

So with all of this information now known, maybe a few trolls will cool down the false statements that they make, and the empty threats they offer. Chances are slim, because essentially they would have to go against their own grain. But so long as it’s understood, that while even being “anonymous” online, you don’t have the right to the epitome of evil. It may be easier to get away with nowadays, but everything eventually comes around, and trolls will no doubt get what’s due to them.

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The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @FacePalmLaw. The law can at times be hard to navigate, if you or a loved one has been in an accident, it is highly advised you seek out a Colorado Truck Accident Attorney.