Trolls ordered to pay damages in Estonia

The Estonian actress Marika Korolev has been awarded damages by a court after being exposed to hate comments on the Internet. The charges were directed against five commentators who posted insulting remarks about Korolev anonymously in 2015. Journalists in Estonia examine why hate has become so prevalent on the Internet.

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Eesti Ekspress (EE) /

Internet brings out people's base instincts

Journalist and media pedagogue Priit Hõbemägi explains in Eesti Ekspress why people lose their inhibitions when they post hateful comments on the Internet:

“No one would dare to scream insults at a well-known actress on the street. But on the Internet they would. The reason is anonymity, invisibility, and the lack of hierarchies. Invisibility reinforces problematic behaviour, for example insulting comments or cyberbullying, because the culprits can't be held to account. What's also lacking on the Internet are the hierarchical status symbols that give a person power and respect in the real world - a well-known face, a self-confident attitude. ... On the Internet everyone is equal. And there the physical consequences of their tormenting acts aren't visible: those who hurl insults don't see the results of their behaviour.”

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (EE) /

Insults have gained the upper hand

Media expert Raul Rebane discusses the negative developments on the website of the Estonian Public Broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhääling:

“The platforms that originally posted new and idealist opinions were quickly taken over by people who saw the chance to strike in such a way that those attacked had no way of defending themselves. This trend took on massive proportions, and the desire to take a stand using one's own name quickly disappeared. Anonymity became the most prized asset. ... Some of the negative consequences are still tangible today. Instead of promoting the democratic process, the opposite has been the case. Many people have stopped voicing their views in public to avoid being insulted.”