Social Media Companies: Do Your Part to Stop Trolling

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Sponsor: The Autism Site

Cyber bullying is real. Tell Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to revise their terms of service to ban trolling.


The internet is a vast and wonderful thing. It allows for instant access of information and the free dissemination of ideas from people of all walks of life. But this isn't always a good thing.

Many people use the anonymity of the internet to tear others down and spread hate.

The practice of deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them1 — a practice we call trolling" — needs to end.

Trolling is not constructive. It does not add to the sense of community. Its sole purpose is to threaten, upset, or intimidate others online.

Nearly as long as they have been around, social media companies have turned a blind eye to this problem. And it's seemingly only gotten worse as the pandemic has brought more and more people online2.

Online trolls can target anyone, but they have been especially cruel to high-profile individuals who tend to have more followers than the average user, including athletes and celebrities.

Sports Illustrated detailed the case of one college basketball referee who was targeted by a wave of nearly 3.500 death threats after video of his contested calls went viral online3.

In the UK, soccer player Mario Balotelli, of Liverpool, was sent more than 8,000 discriminatory posts on social media, more than half including racist rhetoric. Danny Welbeck, after moving to a different team, received 1,700 abusive posts, half which used racially charged language. Daniel Sturridge was sent about 1,600 discriminatory posts, more than 60% disparaging his sexual orientation4.

In 2016 a social media analysis group called Demos looked at 80,000 randomly chosen social media accounts and over a three-week span counted more than 200,000 "aggressive tweets5."

Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are some of the most popular social media platforms in existence. None of them have terms of service which ban trolling outright. Twitter's own top lawyer has admitted the company has been "inexcusably slow" in fighting off vicious online abuse6.

One potential reason: social media platforms actually benefit from online trolling. This is because the storms that arise from this type of behavior boost overall 'time spent online' – which is a core metric for social media platforms7.

If the internet is to be the democratizing force it was dreamed of becoming, these social media sites must provide a safe space for people to share their views without resorting to intimidation through trolling.

Trolling is the ultimate anti-social behavior. Sign the petition below and ask Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to revise their terms of service to ban trolling.

More on this issue:

  1. Lexico, (2022)"Troll."
  2. Peter Suciu, Forbes (4 June 2020), "Trolls Continue To Be A Problem On Social Media."
  3. Michael McKnight, Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated (19 March 2018), "Inside the Dark World of Trolling."
  4. David Conn, The Guardian (16 April 2015), "Kick It Out calls for collective action on social media abuse towards players."
  5. Demos (26 May 2016), "New Demos study reveals scale of social media misogyny."
  6. Jim Edwards, Business Insider (17 April 2015), "One statistic shows that Twitter has a fundamental problem Facebook solved years ago."
  7. Nikki Gilliland, Econsultancy (24 September 2019), "How are brands and social media platforms tackling trolls?."
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The Petition:

Dear CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,

I am writing to ask you to revise your terms of service to ban the act of trolling on your social media platforms.

Trolling is the act of making deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. "

Trolling is not constructive. It does not add to the sense of community. Its sole purpose is to threaten, upset, or intimidate others online. Having users whose sole goal of using your service to tear down others does not reflect positively on your business and hurts many people, often minority voices, in the process.

I am asking you to take a clear and deliberate stand against trolling on your social media platforms. Protections of free speech in the First Amendment are designed to protect against government censorship. It does not limit you from controlling what behavior and speech will or will not be tolerate on your privately owned websites.

Please, do the right thing. Ban anti-social behavior from your platforms and get rid of trolls that would use it as a tool to hurt and demean others.

Thank you,

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Signatures: