Trolls also entertain us, via shock, anger, righteous indignation, or depraved amusement, adding another layer to the trend we’ve seen for decades to view information as entertainment. offers viewers a variety of subject matter, requires minimal skills to comprehend it, and is largely aimed at emotional gratification. Trolls thrive in a space where media platforms that aren’t subject to the liabilities of media, where privacy policies expand within social constraints that are so powerful they may afford abuse of rights, and where there is a tendency to treat information as entertainment, even if there is pain and shame involved.
As Neil Postman wrote in his book from the mid-1980s (. This combination of factors has allowed trolls a broader and more unstoppable reach than ever before — the ability to be more immediate while also being harder to stop.
But in the old analog world bounded by space and time, the effects of these people could be measured in feet and minutes — you might have to listen to them a few feet away for a few minutes, but their impact would diminish as you moved away and moved on, and their influence was circumscribed by physical boundaries. Ironically, instead of cultivating more discourse, the Internet has potentially restricted and redefined it, placing the trolls at the top of the pyramid with their shameless embrace of the power granted to them by digital means.
From the moment the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) absolved platforms of liability for content posted using their tools, the trolls have had an open field on which to work.These are the economics that have gutted traditional media, from newspapers to books to journals, eroding important bulwarks against untruths and propaganda sources.