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Stanford research shows that anyone can become an Internet troll

illustration of bullets coming out of an individual's mouth
Image credit: wildpixel / Getty Images
Feb 6 2017
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Three methods of research find that the situation in which an online discussion occurs influences whether people will troll more than their personal past of trolling suggests.

Internet trolls, by definition, are disruptive, combative and often unpleasant with their offensive or provocative online posts designed to disturb and upset.

The common assumption is that people who troll are different from the rest of us, allowing us to dismiss them and their behavior. But research from Stanford University and Cornell University, published as part of the upcoming 2017 Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017), suggests otherwise. The research offers evidence that, under the right circumstances, anyone can become a troll.

Computer science researcher and lead author Justin Cheng is a 2012 SAP SGF.