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Online Trolling and Its Perpetrators


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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations List of Tables Acknowledgements Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: What Is Online Trolling? Chapter 3: What Motivates Online Trolling and Its Perpetrators? Chapter 4: Online Enabling Factors for Trolling and Deviant Behaviors Chapter 5: All Trolling Is Not Equal Chapter 6: Gender and Online Trolling Chapter 7: Trolling in Context Chapter 8: Culture and Online Trolling Chapter 9: Responding to Online Trolls Chapter 10: Conclusions References Index About the Author

About the Author

Pnina Fichman is the Director of the Rob Kling Center of Social Informatics, associate professor and the chairperson of the Department of Information and Library Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research in social informatics focuses the relationships between information technologies and cultural diversity, online communities and global virtual groups, as well as online deviant behaviors, such as trolling and discrimination. In addition to her five co-edited/authored books, her publications appeared in journals, such as Information and Management, Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, and Journal of Information Science. She earned her Ph.D. from School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2003. Madelyn R. Sanfilippo is a doctoral candidate in Information Science at Indiana University, Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing. Madelyn is interested in the relationships politics and information. Her work specifically addresses social and political issues surrounding information and information technology access; she considers the interaction between information policy and information technology as impacts information access, from a social informatics perspective, in her dissertation.


'Trolling' is an online interaction that is meant to insult or offend, and is primarily intended to provoke others. In mass media journalism, trolling is purely presented as a social deviance, and specifically as evidence that online interaction has the potential to cultivate the worst in individuals. Online trolls have provoked suicides and even harassed the suffering families after a suicide. Fichman and Sanfilippo provide a nuanced analysis of how trolls and their activities are understood by young adults-emphasizing that trolling is an intentional behavior. Superficially, similar provocations can be experienced as humorous in a social context, but offensive and misleading in an educational context. Trolling can be abusive and distracting, but it can also pointedly challenge social norms and incumbent power. By provocatively twisting the truth, trolling evokes critical thinking. A skilled troll can steer narrowly between humor and offense, so that one cannot be certain that the interaction truly is trolling. The authors' thorough analysis of trolling and their emphasis on literature review and empirical studies are strengths. . . .Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and graduates students, especially those in the social and information sciences. * CHOICE *
[T]he authors offer nuanced explanations of the behaviors and motivations associated with trolling, provide numerous case studies to illuminate the practice's many facets, and present the results of their thoughtful ethnographic research. . . .This text proves to be an excellent resource and a solid contribution to studies of social informatics and online communities through its ethnographic research, with near-exhaustive citation of past scholarship. . . .[The book] offers clear evidence to delineate between trolling and more serious forms of online deviance. * International Journal of Communication *

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