Cyber news Down Under: the Antipodean troll — a different kind of species? The tragic suicide of Charlotte Dawson

By Rhory Robertson and Tom Double

What a tragedy it is that it requires another suicide to regenerate widespread interest in cyberbullying, the phenomenon that has become the scourge of the internet age. Charlotte Dawson, the New Zealand-Australian television personality, recently took her own life following a lengthy battle against anonymous Twitter trolls, which has precipitated calls for tougher anti-cyberbullying legislation in Australia.

In an extract from her book, Air kiss and tell: memoirs of a blow-up doll (2012), Dawson writes candidly about her experiences with trolls. She states that they are ‘the creatures that don’t show their faces and unleash a vitriolic stream against others’.

The type of creature Dawson identifies has been labelled an ‘abuse troll’, and UK victims are already very familiar with how they operate. These trolls derive pleasure from insulting and harassing their victims using extremely racist, homophobic or misogynistic language. As Dawson notes, these trolls are often reluctant to reveal their true identities, relying on pseudonyms and bogus email addresses as their main forms of disguise…

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