Mute and Block

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A while ago I began looking through my social media sites to see who I had blocked. I was curious and made a discovery. The worst of the trolls that I had to use the block button on were temporary or fake accounts that could be linked back to one or two people.

Let me explain what’s going on.

I make a radical statement like women deserve equal pay and the incels come out of the woodwork to bombard me with a barrage of tweets and posts saying that I hate men, I should kill myself, I deserve to be alone and worse. I have had up to 30 or 40 tweets in a couple of hours flood my Twitter feed. There are subjects that are almost as bad. Anything having to do with #MeToo is almost guaranteed to create a furor. #BlackLivesMatter can wind you up in a sticky mess and don’t even get me started on the anti-vaxxers or anti-choice people. #MAGA people are pros at opening the flood gates for something as simple as speaking out against Trump’s racism.

But when I took a closer look at things I was surprised. Now, I didn’t look deeply because I don’t have that much knowledge, time or patience but it seemed to me there were a lot of shady accounts happening. I did a quick Google search and found out there are blogs dedicated to showing you how to create fake accounts.

It should come as no surprise that this is a problem but I don’t think people have thought this through. It’s a bigger problem than anyone has paid attention to and it’s not getting better.

When I talk online about a subject, it’s important to me. There are some biggies I have like poverty and women’s rights but I’m not just flapping my keyboard to keep the pixels moving. There’s a reason I say the things I do and that’s so I can be heard.

It used to be that I had a variety of followers on my various social media. At one time I would chat with those on the right and they would chat with me. Sure we were each convinced the other was wrong but we tipped our hats to each other and gave each other room to breathe.

That’s not happening anymore.

Now when I type something, my mouse starts to smoke with all the blocking I’m having to do or reporting fake accounts. In the midst of all this are people who want to have a real conversation and ask real questions but I can’t respond because I’ve been flooded. My opportunity to connect with someone on the other side has been taken away from me.

However, when you report this flooding to the powers that be, it doesn’t violate their code of conduct and they start telling you to mute or block. Can anyone tell me why it’s up to me to regulate the behaviour of others on social media and not the responsibility of those who run these sites? When someone says I need to be raped, why do I have to shut that down instead of Twitter or Facebook?

People like me are being bombarded by these people in the hopes that the overwhelming amount of vitriol being flung will make me give up and go away. In many cases it’s worked. We are being slowly silenced and our ability to connect is being strangled. It is time that stopped. It is more than time that these social media sites stepped up to the plate and started assuming the mantle of responsibility instead of relying on people to use the mute or block button. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest make too much money to get away with such lazy and complicit behaviour.

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Beware of Trolls

2 Comments

Troll

I have to admit that I find online trolls somewhat amusing. I know I’m not supposed to, they’re as annoying as mites and about as useful, but I find their inanity funny. The best ones are the ones who are desperately trying to be serious but are just being ridiculous.

Internet trolls are like bedbugs. You’re never really sure where you got them, even the cleanest home can get them and they’re damn hard to get rid of without flame. So, when my favorite Twitter personality, Kathleen Smith (@kikkiplanet), otherwise known as Kikki,¬†got an infestation of trolls I was intrigued. I could see she was frustrated but I wanted to see how she would handle this problem.

I’m a huge fan of Kikki’s and I make no bones about it. I’ve seen her reduce a corrupt politician to a mass of quivering goo in 140 characters and not break a sweat. She uses logic, truth and a great deal of research in her tweets to demand answers from those in power. Plus she’s got a great sense of humour. When something’s up, I watch Kikki’s tweets avidly and then make a break for the nearest news website.

When Kikki attracted some Twitter trolls, though, I knew she’d be in for a ride. Kikki uses facts and logic as her weapons in a fight. Facts and logic bounce off a troll as easily as loonies off strippers. The only way to get rid of a troll is to ignore them or to amuse yourself with them for a while. My favorite way to annoy them is to spew random lines from literature, musicals or movies until they go away. It’s great fun as they get so angry you can almost see the smoke rising from their ears.

Eventually the trolls left Kikki alone and she returned to her usual fierce dissection of Alberta politics. I do feel a bit sorry for the next set of trolls that try Kikki’s patience, though. She’s not one to suffer fools quietly and, while logic and facts didn’t work this time, she learns fast. I’m fairly certain that the next time there’s trolls on the horizon, there will be barbequed troll on the menu. Personally, I want a front row seat to see that.

Addendum; On a more serious note, I do respect and love Kikki. Without her 140 character tweets, much of the corruption that’s been going on in the Alberta Legislature would have slipped by many of us. It was Kikki that started asking questions about expense accounts and MLA behaviour. We need more like Kikki.

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