I Wanted A Trollinator Nanobot for Christmas…

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Jennifer Daniel and Sandi Daniel, The New York Times image

THERE you are, peacefully reading an article or watching a video on the Internet. You finish, find it thought-provoking, and scroll down to the comments section to see what other people thought. And there, lurking among dozens of well-intentioned opinions, is a troll.

Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt“, Julie Zhou, product design manager at Facebook, The New York Times Op-Ed.

Many families are awakening today to the joy of sharing gifts for Christmas. A thought occurred to me: I wanted a Trollinator Nanobot for Christmas. But I didn’t get one. That’s because they’re extremely expensive and rare. In fact, they haven’t been invented yet – like John Connor in “The Terminator”, they are from the future. We need them.

According to the manufacturer’s label:

Trollinators are highly engineered nanobots that execute a rigorous screening process for users considering uploading content onto the internet using artifical intelligence and fuzzy logic algorithms. Like a targeted computer worm or virus, they target trolls’ computers and can load software such as ToneCheck Ultra {note: a fictional application in 2010} onto applications including email and word processors. ToneCheck Ultra monitors phrases, images and video for potentially offensive or harmful content. The user is allowed two opportunities to reconsider whether they wish to upload the content. If particularly egregious content is detected in uploaded material, the Trollinators will reveal the troll’s name and forward his/her comments to their employer and immediate family members.

Back to Julie Zhou’s Op-Ed:

This kind of social pressure works because, at the end of the day, most trolls wouldn’t have the gall to say to another person’s face half the things they anonymously post on the Internet.

Instead of waiting around for human nature to change, let’s start to rein in bad behavior by promoting accountability. Content providers, stop allowing anonymous comments. Moderate your comments and forums. Look into using comment services to improve the quality of engagement on your site. Ask your users to report trolls and call them out for polluting the conversation.

In slowly lifting the veil of anonymity, perhaps we can see the troll not as the frightening monster of lore, but as what we all really are: human.

While my thoughts above may seem a flight of fancy, this is a serious issue as it relates to cyberbullying that has devasted a number of families. Several states have begun to institute cyberbullying laws. Would not a tool such as the Tollinator nanobot give a potential cyberbully pause, perhaps prevent such criminal activity?

Yes, freedom of speech is a basic right. At the end of the day, people can be as understanding or offensive as they wish. There is a lot of anger in the world that is often expressed through the veil of anonymity; these Trollinator nanobots may offer one more tool to promote accountability for our choice of speech.

Comments

  1. #1 jeffreybyford
    December 26, 2010

    You do your best to keep your children healthy, but sickness and accidents are a part of life. Getting health insurance for your children gives you peace of mind knowing they have health coverage when they need it. Search one the web “Wise Health Insurance” for kids they are the best.

  2. #2 fayehart
    December 26, 2010

    Companies do give out samples. They are looking to put their products in potential consumers’ hands. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work one of the place that always worked is “123 Get Samples” search online

  3. #3 Jacinta
    December 26, 2010

    Sounds like a potentially good concept. My company is moving towards that direction, perhaps we can invent this product sometime in the near future.

    I just finished writing a blog about this subject – http://8snaps.blogspot.com/2010/12/dont-forget-that-mom-sees-everything.html

    – About 8snaps.com — Our mission is to provide children with a happier, safer childhood. We have created an online anti-cyberbullying service for parents and schools which makes it simple to monitor and detect children’s online activities. The service is available at http://www.8snaps.com and is currently free for home use.

  4. #4 Drivebyposter
    December 27, 2010

    I’m not sure how well a Trollinator will stop rude posts. I’m pretty much a dick in real life too. :-)

  5. #5 Judge Tom
    December 27, 2010

    Parents & their kids can combat cyberbullying through education & awareness of consequences.

    After 23 years as a judge in juvenile and family court, I believe that teenagers learn from the experiences of their peers, not just from being lectured by those in authority. Consequently, “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” was published in 2010.

    Endorsed by Dr. Phil ["Bullied to Death"], “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” presents real cases of teens in trouble over their online and cell phone activities.

    Civil & criminal sanctions have been imposed on teens over their emails, blogs, texts, IM messages, Facebook & YouTube posts and more. TCI promotes education & awareness of consequences so that our youth will begin to “Think B4 U Click.”

    Thanks for looking at “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” on http://www.freespirit.com [publisher] or on http://www.askthejudge.info [a free website for & about teens and the laws that affect them].

    Respectfully, -Judge Tom.

  6. #6 Snooze
    December 28, 2010

    It’s “egregious, not “aggreggious” :-)

    “And there, lurking among dozens of well-intentioned opinions, is a troll.”
    Just one among dozens?
    These day I’m grateful just to find a comments section which has a majority of well-thought-out comments and a minority of trolls. (I define “trolls” loosely to include pointless personal attacks and mindless harsh sarcasm.)

    Seems to be getting harder and harder.
    Arrrhh, Edna… Kids these days…

  7. #7 Jeff
    December 28, 2010

    Thanks for catching my error! Mea culpa. Duly noted and corrected. I may have unintentionally pulled a “Sarah Palin” (refudiate/repudiate) – aggressive and egregious = aggregious.

  8. #8 Melkor
    December 29, 2010

    More to the point, you have exactly two commenters here who aren’t posting spam to your blog; commercial misuse of advertorial shilling in online discussion forums is a far more serious problem than the occasional troll.