Slaying the trolls: Hunting down internet haters

via Gawker

via Gawker

I’m quoted in a Stuff piece on on-line trolls and Cyber Bullying

Cameron Slater runs the highly read Auckland-based blog Whale Oil Beef Hooked. He has several trolls.

“You’ve got single-issue trolls; they’re dedicated and one-eyed,” he says, noting marriage equality is a favoured topic of his to blog about because of the response it elicits.

“They might be conservative Christians or, on the other side, militant homosexuals. They post frequently whenever a gay marriage post goes live, just to wind everybody else up.”

Some trolls do not fit into this category.

“Random trolls aren’t regular commenters, or they comment under various or changing usernames,” Slater says. “They’re stalky in their behaviour, watching what you write in order to catch you out. When they can latch on to something, they’ll try to hijack the thread.

“You can liken those trolls to the story Three Billy Goats Gruff. They aren’t necessarily bullies; they just want to jump up from their bridge and disrupt what you’re trying to achieve.”

Slater had a vigilant and self- proclaimed troll on his blog, whom he regularly identified by real name to hold him to account for his actions.

“He started as a classic troll: off-topic comments and basic inflammation to counter other comments. He then moved to more personally vindictive behaviour,” says Slater, noting his troll’s move to cyber-bullying.

“In a Facebook poll about US politics, he jumped in to disagree with the post, then said, ‘Have you considered pulling a Charlotte Dawson yet?’ ” That comment was made on World Suicide Prevention Day.

Slater, who “holds grudges” against anyone “with the appalling nature of wishing someone would kill themselves”, then embarked on his own campaign to discredit his troll, tracking him down and confronting him in public.

His troll later apologised and asked for his offensive comments to be removed. Slater refused, saying: “To remove it would only leave an apology hanging without the context in which it was given.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.