Trolls, we know them well in the Internet realm. Forums, chatrooms and comment sections are littered with these provocative but typically harmless attention seekers; though Trolls can sometimes forget the line and cross over into cyberbullying. This is the case with a young man from Berkshire whose offensive vendetta resulted in an 18-week jail sentence.
25-year old Sean Duffy from Reading, Berkshire had targeted the friends and family of Natasha MacBryde, a 15-year old from Worcester who had committed suicide. MacBryde had thrown herself underneath a train in an act of desperation, and had been pushed to this extreme by a separate instance of cyberbullying.
Sean Duffy pleaded guilty—his trolling summed up as two counts of sending communication of an indecent or offensive nature. Along with the man’s four month sentence, he’s been ordered to stay away from all social networking sites for five years.
Apparently Duffy, who had never met MacBryde, found a memorial page on Facebook and began a tirade of offensive posts. In one of the posts he called the deceased girl a slut. Duffy also posted a vidue on YouTube mocking the young girl. He titled the video “Tasha the Tank Engine” and replaced the face of the popular cartoon character Thomas the Tank engine with Macbryde’s face.
The court also found that prior to Natasha MacBryde, Duffy had posted offensive content on other online memorials. The list includes 14-year old Lauren Drew who died from epilepsy, Hayley Bates, 16, a car crash victim, and 14-year old murder victim Jordan Cooper. This history of abusive most likely contributed to the sentence the magistrates handed out.
The Duffy case casts a spotlight on the seriousness of cyberbullying, and adds ammunition to the controversy of whether the Internet users should retain anonymity.