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Representations of ‘trolls’ in mass media communication: a review of media-texts and moral panics relating to ‘internet trolling’

Published Online:pp 7-24

There is a general trend amongst mass media organisations around the world towards concentration of the visual, written and audio packaging and of newspapers, websites and television as channels of information. These platforms are explored in detail in this paper in relation to the moral panics around ‘internet trolling’. This paper discusses the history of trolling in the context of mass media, specifically ‘classical trolling’ and ‘Anonymous trolling’. A review of different media headlines finds that whether or not a story is portrayed in newspapers, online, or on television, the media will use a variety of ways to convey their messages. In the case of ‘trolls’, they show a darker, sinister and transgressive side of cyberspace in the form of abuse and vitriol (i.e., anonymous trolling). The paper concludes that future research should look in detail at the different character types of internet troller and how these affect the way so called ‘trolls’ are represented in the media and the effect this has on the attitude towards young internet users and trollers in general.


internet trolling, new media, mass media, audience theory, stereotypes


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