There is an ongoing problem in the web community, and Julie Zhuo brought attention to this by writing about these so called “trolls”. She talks about how anonymity contributes to this growing trend of hate. Zhuo then moves on to explain exactly what kind of damage trolls have caused people and their families. The countless suicides she brings up due to random internet trolls is quite alarming. This makes one come to the realization that these people are horrible, and more steps should be taken to ensure that something should be done. Zhuo moves on to tell of the steps some social media platforms have taken to prevent things like this from happening. Zhuo explains that although it is a small step these hate barriers are important and need to be put up. Zhuo successfully convinces her audience that anonymity is creating these trolls, and she presents us with solutions to this hate.
In this article Zhuo used a lot of Aristotle’s rhetoric to try to get the readers on her side. Aristotle’s Rhetoric is just the faculty of discovering in any particular case all available means of persuasion. This definition of Rhetoric as opposed to Plato’s is that this comes with three elements. The three main elements to Rhetoric is ethos, logos, and pathos. Each of these elements can help you in persuading a reader to come to your side. Each of these tactics are used to cater to different people. Ethos is an approach on the ethical. Ethos is used to describe the audience’s perception of the authors credibility and or authority. The use of pathos is called an emotional appeal. The use of this attempts to appeal to an audience’s sense of identity, their self-interest, and their emotions. The final element of this kind of Rhetoric is logos. This approach is more about being logical. The author attempts to persuade the audience by the use of arguments that they will perceive as logical. Each one of these appeals can be used in many different ways and can serve different arguments well. It is very important to remember that every act of persuasion does not need to respect all three appeals. In most academic papers ethos and logos are used more than pathos. Only because it is harder to take pathos seriously. The main goal when using these appeals is to find a way to persuade the reader to come to the authors side of the argument. Zhuo did just that while explaining the dangers of trolls on the internet.
Zhuo uses a lot of pathos and logos in this piece. She uses pathos through the stories of these lost people and their families. “Alexis Pilkington, a 17 – year old Long Island girl, committed suicide earlier this year, trolls descended on her online tribute page to post pictures of nooses, references to hangings and other hateful comments” (Zhuo 130). Anyone with a heart would fall for this. This also just goes to show how awful these trolls can be, they didn’t even go after this Alexis girl, they went after her mourning family. Even the thought of this will get most people feeling upset or disturbed. Especially her targeted audience which would be young people as we are talking about the internet.
A lot of Zhuo’s audience are more than likely not strangers to this hate, so it’s very easy for them to relate. Zhuo then adds to this pathos appeal by telling a harsher story “Nicole Catsouras, an 18- year old who died in a car crash in California in 2006. Photos of her badly disfigured body were posted on the Internet.” This is truly awful and disgusting. Zhuo really wakes up her audience with this and even mentions an email a troll sent to the victim’s father saying “Hello, Daddy, I’m still alive.” This kind of language really draws the reader in for what Zhuo had to say next. Zhuo then moves on to using logos a lot. It is good for her to appeal to logos as well, as her audience is also these social media platforms she’s calling out. Zhuo gives us many situations where people came forward trying to find these internet trolls.
Zhuo then tied this in with the law and told us of the many laws that are in place to try and curb this behavior. After this we are told that anonymity can’t be removed from the internet, but these laws being in place is a very good start to putting up these barriers. This is a very convincing argument and that baby steps are important to solving this issue. There really is no ethical appeal in this article. Although this is a very large ethical problem, not every human shares the same ethics. An ethos approach Zhuo could have used would be to talk about the reasoning behind these trolls. Instead she brushes off why these people do these hateful things. Getting to the root of these trolls can maybe just wipe them off the face of the internet. The sad truth is that there are very unethical people in the world. One would hope that most would be ethical enough to not slander people over the internet. Zhuo proves to us that preventing anonymity is exactly what these social media sites need to start tackling.
Zhuo tells us these trolls feed off of hate and will take any chance to anonymously attack someone. More steps need to be taken to prevent this from happening and social media sites need to take action. “Content providers, social networking platforms, and community sites must also do their part by rethinking the systems they have in place for user commentary so as to discourage- or disallow- anonymity” (Zhuo 131). This is very convincing, because after all most of the hate on the internet comes from platforms provided by these providers.
Zhuo presents us and these companies with solutions used by other platforms that may just slowly take down this anonymity monster. “Reuters, for example, announced that it would start to block anonymous comments and require users to register with their names and e-mail addresses in an effort to curb “uncivil behavior”” (Zhuo 131). Zhuo explains that although people can fake their name and still be anonymous, this system gives them some kind of responsibility. “Well-Designed commenting systems should also aim to highlight thoughtful and valuable opinions while letting trollish ones sink into oblivion” (Zhuo 131). This is a very solid point and a great commenting system. Almost like a commenting honor system that places valuable comments higher than hateful or derogatory comments. Zhuo then gives us examples of platforms that have taken on this honor system. It works because it pushes the hate out and rises up with the positivity. Another solution she gives is “The technology blog Gizmodo is trying an audition system for new commenter, under which their first few somments would be approved by a moderator or a trusted commenter to ensure quality before anybody else could see them” (Zhuo 131). This is a good solution found by Gizmodo and brought up by Zhuo.
Although it seems like a lot work when the system gets going you can have enough trusted commenters to keep the wheels turning. Bringing up this solution along with the tech company Gizmodo helps Zhuo establish credibility. Zhuo gives us these brilliant ideas on how to stop these trolls, but she adds on with “But the law itself cannot do enough to disarm the Internet’s trolls.” This is Zhuo passing on the bouton to the reader and all social media sites she is calling out. After all she makes it out to be which is true that this is a human problem. Hate that comes out of a human can only be defused by another human. Although Zhuo could have gone on longer about what we can do to stop these trolls, she presented social media sites those solutions and what has worked. Zhuo has been very active on this troll chase. Zhuo worked at Facebook on their commenting system to try to make it better. This is excellent as it shows that Zhuo knows what she is talking about and it helps to give her some more credibility. Trolling is an ongoing problem in America, but with some of the solutions that Zhuo has given us, she shows us that we can prevent these trolls from thriving.
Trolls right now are thriving off anonymity. Zhuo has given her audience solutions that can prevent these people from putting others down. She makes it clear that it is time for these social media sites to step up and stop anonymity. Zhuo did a very good job at convincing her audience that the internet isn’t doing enough to stop trolls and anonymity. However, I wish she could have talked more about the consequences that these people could face. She brought up many times how trolls got revealed and caught through victims’ testimonies. I think if she could have mentioned the repercussions it would discourage others that read the article to fall down the path of becoming a troll themselves. Also, to add on Zhuo could have taken on a more ethos approach when it came to these trolls. Although it may seem like a simple choice slandering people over the internet comes down to pure ethics and morals. Understanding these people and what’s behind their hate may just give us enough power to conquer them. Talking about these ethics can make some feel good about their decisions and drive them to keep good behavior on the web, while discouraging others who do bad to stop. Finally, another thing Zhuo could have done is presented the audience with better solutions. She could have given us some of her own ideas on how the everyday people can combat this hate, instead of only really presenting social media sites and large providers with solutions. In the end we all agree it’s time for an end.
Zhuo accomplished what she wanted she delivered a strong case to these social platforms to get moving on preventing all trollism activities. She provided us with stories that got our feelings rolling and our attention gripped to what she had to say. The more Zhuo went on about these trolls the audience’s animosity should have been growing to rid the Internet of these humanity destroyers. Through this article Zhuo attempted and successfully tried to promote positivity instead of hate. This was very well done as positivity is the best resource to fight this hate. Positivity is something that we are all given. The hand we are given in life can affect what people be negative or positive reinforcers. Zhou preached to all of us and just wants the people to find the positivity in themselves and fight the hate. She just wants all of us to be who we really are that’s human.