Trolling can cause immeasurable harm and distress to victims. Whilst action can be taken to protect victims there are also simple steps that newspapers and other social media platforms can take to make it more difficult for online bullies.
On 13 December 2022 The Times and The Sunday Times introduced a new policy on digital comments requiring online readers who wished to comment to use their real names. Their objective is “to weed out trolls and stamp out the obnoxious posts that were turning some comment threads into playground punch-ups”.
The policy has now been in force 6 weeks and the results announced by The Times on 27 January 2023 are interesting. In particular, The Times reported a “substantial drop in “toxic” comments” with a 40% decrease since before the announcement as the number of readers using their real names increased from 36% to 86%.
Louise Prince, Senior Associate in the Firm’s Reputation Protection and Privacy Team said “The Times is to be commended for taking this stance. It would go a long way to combatting online trolling if the social media platforms and other newspaper publishers took as bold a step as The Times.”
The Times report can be found here: Our real-names policy is taming the online trolls | Comment | The Times