He Who Must Not Be Named

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Such was the fear of Lord Voldemort that people quaked at the very idea of uttering his name during his nearly three decade long reign (which saw his rise and fall and another rise and ultimate defeat). As the fear of him continued to grow even in his absence, a young boy emerged from the darkness who, unwittingly at first, addressed this fear head on by calling him by name and went on to do so as an act of defiance against him.

It is in this context, dear readers, that I transport you from the world of fantasy fiction to the very real digital age and our new age death eaters, or trolls. Trolling is a form of cyber attack in which a certain user (called a troll) assails another user with abuses and scathing personal statements of varying degrees. Such online behavior is chasing more and more users (and potential users) underground in order to escape the manic troll. The idea is to identify such behavior and know what we’re up against.

Our online death eaters, however, cannot be defeated by naming them alone. And here is where our challenge lies. There is a need to identify positive behaviours in the online space that act as an antidote to trolling. There can be many. It is along these lines that a project came about in London in October this year called Opposite of a Troll Project. This project seeks to crowdsource names for the anti-troll and curate and share online content and interactions that exemplify the type of behavior, interactions and spirit of what positive online behavior should be like.

Running our own programmes on Online Safety, #SocialSurfing, for the past three years, we whole-heartedly support this project and hope people participate actively in creating a safer and more positive online space by identifying positive content and spreading it. While conducting workshops with students we tell them about counterspeech, i.e. positive speech to counter hate speech. The war on hate can only be won through love, is what every story teaches us, including the one of The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Be Named.

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