Reviewed by Robert at Angus & Robertson:
The rise of the internet can easily be said to have prompted the rise of the internet troll, those people who abuse or intimidate others online with the confidence that only anonymity can provide. Journalist Ginger Gorman is something of an expert on trolling, having been the victim of one such vicious attack that was unlike anything she had experienced before. Journalistic instincts kicking in, Gorman found herself rifling through the wreckage to find a gripping and urgent story.
Troll Hunting is equal parts fascinating and disturbing - in many ways, it’s the perfect book for 2019, which is a strange time to be a twenty-something year old on the internet. I can still remember those first days of slow dial-up internet connections where the most scandalous thing I could do online was neglect my Neopets. Now, we’re questioning the extent to which online behaviour has driven people to suicide, forced people into hiding, and even influenced presidential elections. It’s grim stuff, yet Gorman tackles her subject with grit and determination as she delves deep into the troll mindset. Her shrewd account of their senseless and horrifying behaviour elevates this book beyond being yet another internet critique, turning it instead into a fascinating snapshot of our time and the behaviour of its people.
In 2013, journalist Ginger Gorman was trolled online. She received scores of hateful tweets, including a death threat.
Over the next five years, Gorman spoke to psychologists, trolling victims, law enforcement, academics and, most importantly, trolls themselves, embedding herself into their online communities and their psyches in ways she had never anticipated.
She uncovered links between trolling, cyberhate and real-life crimes. She mapped out a cohort of men - mostly angry, young and white - who rightly or wrongly feel marginalised and disenfranchised and use the internet to express this. She encountered the frequently extreme personal costs endured by trolling targets, not to mention the very real financial and economic costs of cyberhate.
A gripping read, Troll Hunting is a window into not just the mindset of trolls, but also the profound changes in the way we live and work in a post-internet world. Trolls didn't appear from thin air - they are real people, and reflect a real aspect of our society. This remarkable investigation will change the way you think about the internet, and what it means to be a human online