Online Dialog – Moderating the conversation

“It takes a village to raise a monster. What is it about our society that creates trolls.” – Laurel Papworth


This week we explored the theme, Online Dialog – Moderating the conversation: inclusive dialog online”. This issue is quite contentious with the public. A proportion of the public react violently when they feel that they are being censored – that their freedom of speech is being compromised. Whereas others feel that regulations need to be intensified to stop online bullying.

A ‘troll’ in social media context can be defined as “a member of an internet community who posts offensive; divisive and controversial comments.” (Techopedia). Internet trolls are particularly dangerous as they feel protected by their anonymity and gain confidence through the lack of reprehension. A recent victim of internet trolling is footballer Robbie Farah. A sexually explicit tweet was posted about Farah’s recently deceased mother. The uproar prompted Premier Barry O’Farrell to make moves to update the current legislation to deter trolls in the future.

If we take a step back, we will see that trolling is not a new concept. Trolls have long existed in our society. Social media has just provided a more visible platform for trolls to be recognised. Just as we have rules in place for bullying within schools and workplaces, the internet now needs to be regulated to ensure bullying is not tolerated in this forum. Dr Fiona Martin believes that on the whole, the public does not know how to manage our online presence. Martin suggests that regulating social media is one strategy that will improve inappropriate behaviour.

What is the solution?

This is the million dollar question. Experts believe that black and white rules are almost certainly doomed to fail. The innovative and constantly evolving nature of technology makes regulating social media difficult. In the meantime, this ambiguity is not helpful to those suffering under the torment of trolls. While it is clear that social media needs to be moderated – just how to regulate the trolls is up for debate. What do you propose?


Martin, F 2012, Vox Populi, Vox Dei: ABC Online and the risks of dialogic interaction’ in Histories of a public Service Broadcasters on the Web, editors, N. Brugger & M. Burns. New York pp.177-192.

Staff, 2012. Barry O’Farrell calls for review on social media laws after troll attack on Robbie Farah.

Papworth, L 2013. How Social Media can fix the Troll and Bullying Problem.


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