Catch Me If You Can!

If you’ve ever been anonymously harassed on the internet, you may be wondering how these people can be caught without us knowing who they are? Well, I’m here to tell you there’s definitely a way!

Kashmir Hill, of the Forbes staff, has created an article with the steps to catching your anonymous harassers, in response to a man in Ireland being constantly harassed on every internet platform imaginable. This person found out a way to bait their harassers and trap them, and was able to identify them.27

Hill writes the following steps for finding your anons-

“1. Your troll-trap is a blog. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to set one up.

2. You’ll want to be able to keep track of the IP addresses of visitors to your blog. Programs like AWStats or Webalizer will keep visitor logs for you that will reveal where your readers are coming from. Alternatively, you can hope your troll comments on your blog. If they do, their IP address will be captured and sent to you along with the comment. Yes, readers of the Not-So Private Parts, I see your IP addresses when you leave your (usually delightful) remarks here.

3. Lure your troll to your blog. Traynor did so by including links to the blog on Facebook and on Twitter. If you’re very audacious, you could email your troll directly with the link. (Keep your fingers crossed that your troll is not using an IP masker.)

4. Once you’ve captured the IP address, whether from a blog comment or from visitor logs, it’s time to see where it originates from. You can do that onIPTracker. ”It will show you the user’s Internet Provider, a fairly exact location, the map coordinates and a satellite view of their location,” writesBopp. The Google stock advice comment spam above, for example,  appears to originate from an office building in Islamabad, Pakistan, a block away, coincidentally, from Kashmir Highway.

5. Now you may know where your troll lives, and if it’s someone you know in real life, you may already know who it is. Alternately, you can try searching the address online and see if it turns up anyone who seems likely to be the culprit. “Plug the location into Google Streetview and it will give you the actual address,” writes Bopp. “You can then put the address into Google to find out more details.” “

Now, this method clearly isn’t perfect. What would you do in the event your troll decides not to bite? What if your troll uses a public computer?

Despite these drawbacks, this method is definitely something to keep in mind in the event of an anon harassing you. People who use their anonymity for evil instead of good definitely deserve to be brought to justice.

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Hostility and Anonymity- An Inseperable Pair

rudeness-on-the-internet_1We’ve all done it- said that thing we probably shouldn’t have on social networks that we never would in real life. Even if all of your information was available, socializing online makes it much easier to shout out rude comments because there is a virtual distance between people. Imagine then, that you were playing the anonymous card when you typed out your semi-rude comment. Don’t you think you’d find it more tempting to blurt out your darkest thoughts of that person online? I sure do. In fact, I am not alone in this thinking. The article “Does the Anonymity of the Internet Allow People to Be Meaner?” notes that, “the ability to post angry or mean-spirited thoughts without tangible consequences could prove to be too much of a temptation for certain personalities.”

Because online anonymity does give us such leeway as to what we can say without getting any personal backlash from it, there is a natural feeling to just go in for the kill. While we may all be guilty of doing this a few times in out internet career, there are others that act this way on the regular. To must internet users, these types of anonymous users making hostile comments to others to stir up trouble are known as “trolls.” And hence, the act of saying these types of harsh things is called “trolling.” These people create a ruckus in the web community and “website moderators spend much of their time online deleting offensive messages and suspending the accounts of those who leave them” (“Does the Anonymity of the Internet Allow People to Be Meaner?“).

We all get frustrated, and we all need to vent. However, doing so in an anonymous chat room or website only seems to add fuel to the flame. Witnessing hostility on the internet really is inevitable, but it is my recommendation that you should personally try to avoid it. Just because you are fed up with your boss at work does not necessarily make it right to go berserk on a chat room and offend others- there’s therapists for that. Internet trolls are not a valued part of the web, and tend to be looked at as nuisances with nothing better to do then anonymously talk down on others they may not even know.

There are trouble-makers in the real world too, of course. But usually a tiff in person can spiral out of control and become hostile when carried out online, especially if the person is hiding their identity. Being anonymous has the ability to be a wonderful tool for speaking the mind without having to deal with the consequence of being ridiculed. The problem with this is when people purposely seek to cause damage to others while remaining anonymous. Trolling is a hassle to regular online users, and creates unwanted hostility that the web community can do without.