Earlier this week, Whitney appeared on an Australian current events television program to discuss her doctoral study on internet trolls and the role of the media in trolling narratives. Whitney appeared alongside self-proclaimed trolls Weev, Jaime Cochran, some guy named Steven, Information activist Asher Wolf, Joe Hildebrand of the Daily Telegraph, cyberbully-prosecuting lawyer Greg Walsh and others in this look inside the subject of trolls on the internet.
One point that all of the guests seem to agree on is that it doesn’t make sense to conflate harmless forms of trolling like Rickrolling with malicious cyberbullying and harassment. At one point Joe Hildebrand grows particularly frustrated with the broadly-ranging behaviors described as “trolling.” Soon after, at 23:21 Whitney interjects:
One of the things that I focused specifically on in my research is the relationship between mainstream media and trolling… trolling as a subculture would not exist were it not for the mainstream media interventions that have catapulted it to this extraordinarily visible behavioral category. Trolling is big business. It’s fantastic news for people in the mainstream media, so if we want to talk about trolls and why trolling is problematic — and I don’t deny that it is — we also have to talk about the way the media amplifies and gives a platform for these behaviors, and in fact, in some ways, sort or enables it.
[smash cut to commercial.]
Also, keep an eye out for the moment in the show when Weev says some lady is fat and her kid has autism. Video follows after the jump.