Is Trolling People Online Illegal in the United States? (2023)

Confused ’bout the legal stuff of trolling? Ever wondered if it’s an illegal thing? This article’ll explain the legal stuff of trolling in the U.S.A. So you can remain safe and avoid any potential troubles. Get informed and stay safe online!

Table of Contents

Five Facts About Whether Trolling is Illegal in the United States:

  • ✅ Trolling is not illegal in the United States, but some forms of online harassment can be punishable by law. (Source: Vox)
  • ✅ The First Amendment protects free speech, but there are limits to what is considered protected speech. (Source: FindLaw)
  • ✅ Cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and defamation can be considered crimes if they involve threats, intimidation, or harm to an individual’s reputation. (Source: The Balance)
  • ✅ Federal and state laws differ on what constitutes illegal online behavior, and enforcement can be challenging due to the anonymity of the internet. (Source: NPR)
  • ✅ Some states have implemented specific anti-cyberbullying laws aimed at protecting minors from online harassment and bullying. (Source: Cyberbullying Research Center)

Definition of Internet Trolling

Internet trolling is posting mean, offensive comments online. It can range from harmless arguments to serious cyberbullying, harassment, stalking, and defamation. This has caused laws in the U.S., Australia, England, and Wales, to stop people from trolling. Victims can seek legal help and get money damages.

To protect rights of people, it’s important to understand the legal consequences of trolling. Tip: If you’re a victim, get legal advice and report the incident to police.

Trollings impact on online communities

Trolling is unfriendly online activity that intends to sow division and disagreement among online communities. It has caused a drop in the standard of online conversations, with discourteous comments becoming the norm. So, online sites and publishers have been considering methods to control trolling and keep good online discussion spaces.

Yet, there is an ongoing argument if trolling is illegal in the U.S. Popular Science claims that trolls can be held answerable under federal law for their actions. However, there is no distinct federal law that deals with trolling. Instead, trolling could be seen as offenses under existing laws such as criminal sanctions for breaching privacy, false light, and harassment.

In the physical world, some states have laws that make trolling unlawful. As an example, in Arizona, trolling is prohibited, and local police officers can capture offenders. Thus, even if trolling isn’t explicitly banned under federal law, trolls can be held responsible for their activities, and victims can file a lawsuit against them for civil damages.

Tip: Online publishers and platforms should form rules that guard their users from online trolls to sustain healthy online discussions.

Importance of understanding legal consequences of trolling

It is essential to understand the legal consequences of trolling. Trolling refers to making malicious comments, harassing others or causing discord online. It can be polarizing and lead to arguments or a decline in conversation quality. It can also violate state laws and be unconstitutional. This can land you in legal battles and might mean seeking bail bonds.

To avoid this, it is essential to understand the legal consequences of trolling before engaging online. Remember to always be mindful of your online behavior to avoid legal problems!

Trolling and the Law

It’s important for citizens to be aware of laws about internet trolling. This article talks about what could be legally punished in the US for trolling. Knowing the possible penalties for this behavior can help people stay safe and protect others.

(Video) Trolling the Most Dangerous Hood in America!

Criminal sanctions in the United States

Criminal sanctions are legal punishments for people who do criminal activities. Trolling, which can mean posting bad comments online, might not be a crime, depending on the law. In the U.S., the criminal justice bill states it’s a crime to use electronic devices to stalk, harass, or intimidate people online.

Some trolling could also be considered invasion of privacy, sexual harassment, or state crimes, so it can lead to criminal sanctions. It’s best for online users to know the consequences of their actions, and not take part in things that can offend people or make online discourse worse.

Tip: If you don’t know if your online behavior is trolling or illegal, ask a qualified lawyer.

Other countries laws on trolling

Trolling and the Law: Exploring Other Countries’ Regulations

Are trolling and its legality an issue? Yes! It’s a contentious and complex one. Laws vary in different countries, yet some common themes emerge. Trolling is malicious online activity designed to create discord. It involves explicit language and harassment. It’s a menace to online communities.

An online survey was conducted to examine laws on trolling. It suggests that many countries have laws against it. However, enforcement is uneven. Some countries have seen a drop in online quality due to trolling. But others have enforced stricter laws.

If you’re a victim of trolling, get advice from a lawyer directory in your country. They can help you protect your rights and dignity.

The role of harassment

The role of harassment is powerful and should not be overlooked in our online worlds. Trolling for instance, is a form of harassment which is regularly used to start disputes among readers, and decrease the quality of conversations. Unfriendly remarks or actions can make readers disagree, therefore reducing the quality of interactions even more.

Trolling is not against the law in the US, but it can turn into harassment if someone’s intent is to verbally or sexually offend somebody. In real life, these acts are unlawful, and the same rules apply online. As online conversations and social media become more popular, it is essential to spot and tackle harassment when it takes place. This will help build a secure and productive online community that supports positive dialogue, and reduces the bad effects of harassment.

Pro Tip: If you’re the target of online harassment or see someone else being harassed, tell the relevant people or platform moderators. Don’t interact with the harasser as this may escalate the problem.

(Video) I Hunt Down Internet Trolls | Super Users

Federal government involvement

Federal government involvement in trolling is critical for US internet users. Trolling means deliberately making impolite comments, stirring up readers or causing trouble online. Most trolling isn’t illegal, but some kinds could lead to criminal charges like sexually harassing or inciting violence.

Trolls on different platforms have caused a decrease in discussions’ quality and understanding facts. Thus, the government has a duty to manage internet activity to protect citizens from harm. Yet, they must balance this with free speech. It’s vital to state the government should guarantee online neighborhoods are secure and protect people from harassment and dangerous activities in meatspace.

Pro tip: Before trolling someone online, consider the consequences and be respectful and civil.

Civil Penalties for Trolling

“Civil Penalties for Trolling” – this title shows the legal repercussions of trolling. It is vital for a writer to realize the severity of the issue and its effects on the troll and the person being trolled. This article will explain the civil penalties trolls may experience. It gives insights into how serious their actions are, and encourages better online conduct.

Types of comments that can result in civil actions

Comments on social media have become more frequent. But, it’s important to know which types can lead to legal actions. Words that cause fights, split opinions, or are of bad quality can result in fines, court cases, or even jail time. Perception is key when posting online. Even if you think your words are harmless, they might be taken differently, resulting in negative effects. Hence, be mindful of what you post to prevent unintended consequences.

Tip: Show respect and consider how the comments could impact others before publishing.

Challenges in identifying trolls

Trolls on the internet can be tricky to spot. They hide behind anonymity and post comments to start arguments and stir up discord. This can decrease the quality of the conversation, so it’s important to know the signs of trolling.

Examples include:

  • Using inflammatory language
  • Making personal attacks
  • Refusing to engage in a constructive way

By recognizing these behaviors, readers can stay away from trolls and focus on productive discussions with facts and respect. Tip: If you spot a troll, it’s best to leave the conversation than get into an unproductive argument.

Arizona 2012 law against electronic device harassment

Arizona’s 2012 law against electronic device harassment is essential. It stops online trolling and harassment. It’s illegal to use electronic devices to intimidate, harass, or threaten someone. That includes sending unsolicited messages, being rude, and causing trouble.

The law comes with civil penalties for those who break it. This discourages trolls and helps protect people from online harassment’s bad effects, like polarization and worse online chat.

It’s hard to know what counts as online harassment and trolling. But, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when using electronic devices. By following Arizona’s 2012 law, we can help create a more civil, respectful online atmosphere.

Tip: Before you post, think twice. Your words may have a huge effect on other people.

(Video) Australia Bans Trolling & The US Wants to Ban Online Scalping

Constitutionality of harassment laws

Harassment laws have been around in the USA for a while. But, is it constitutional? This is a hot debate among legal experts. People say free speech should be limited if it causes discord or polarizes readers. Others think the definition of harassment is too broad, leading to worse online conversations.

Do trolling laws exist in the USA? Some say trolling should be protected as free speech. But, others think it can be considered harassment, and penalties should be applied.

Knowing the constitutionality of harassment laws can help people understand the legal landscape. This way they can be responsible for their actions online. Remember: When you’re chatting online, think about how your words could affect people. Strive for a civil conversation.

Seeking Legal Help

Is Trolling Illegal in the U.S.?

Do you have doubts about certain online activities? Getting legal aid can give you insights and support to make sense of these murky waters. This post will look into trolling and if it is allowed in the United States. Plus, it will provide advice on how to find legal help whenever you need it.

Importance of seeking legal help

Legal help is vital when confronting legal matters like online trolling. Trolling is when someone posts offensive comments on the internet, to start arguments and divide people. This can lead to bad online behavior, and even legal complications if the comments are too extreme.

Getting a professional lawyer is key to managing the legal complexities of trolling. They can explain the laws related to online harassment, give advice on how to manage hostile comments, and show the best way to take legal action against people who troll.

Here’s a tip: If you’re going through trolling or harassment online, get legal help immediately to guard yourself and your reputation.

Lawyer directory resources

Need legal help for a trolling or cyber bullying issue? A lawyer directory is the perfect resource. Find attorneys who specialize in internet and tech law. These experts know the legal implications of your online behavior. They can argue your case and explain your rights and obligations.

Trolling can have serious consequences. It can lead to a decline in quality of communication and in some cases, it can be illegal.

So if you’re dealing with a trolling legal issue, use a lawyer directory. Check reviews and credentials to make sure you’re working with a reputable professional. Don’t hesitate to find a qualified lawyer!

Protecting your rights

Protecting your rights online is paramount nowadays. If you’re facing trolling or uncivil comments, legal help can explain your rights and what actions you can take. Trolling can sometimes be illegal. Laws vary, so getting counsel can help you understand the complexity. Cyber-bullying and online harassment are illegal in many places. If you experience such behaviors, you can take legal action.

In summary, protecting your rights on the internet is as important as protecting them in real life. If needed, get legal help. Don’t forget to report illegal activity. Pro tip: know your legal rights and take proactive steps to safeguard yourself online.

Recap of key points

Recapping key points can help readers understand and remember important info in an article. For example, when discussing “Is trolling illegal in the U.S.?keywords like “sow discord,” “polarize readers,” and “interpretation” are important to consider. Trolling may not be illegal, but it can lead to legal consequences when it involves activities like cyber-stalking or defamation.

(Video) New legal guidelines for trolling offences

Moreover, the boundaries between free speech and online harassment are hard to navigate and often open to interpretation. It’s up to individuals and communities to regulate online behavior to create a safe and respectful online environment.

Pro Tip: When writing articles, articulate main arguments and conclusions, and provide a summary of key points to help readers understand and remember important info.

Future developments in trolling and the law

Trolling is a massive global worry now with the rise of the internet and social media. It’s an act of deliberately causing hurt and pestering others online. Its effects on mental health are so bad that in many countries it’s illegal. But trolling laws in the US are still in a haze.

Recently, the dialogue around trolling regulations has grown more important. A lot of cases have demonstrated the importance of stricter regulations. Victims of online bullying experience extreme psychological damage. Cyber-bullying can lead to serious results.

So, legislators and policymakers must take action and create suitable laws for this issue. Future trolling regulations must concentrate on providing a protected digital environment for everyone.

Pro-tip: If you are a victim of online bullying or trolling, get professional help from organizations that focus on cyber crime.

The need for responsible behavior online.

In this day and age, where social media and the internet are so important, being responsible online is key! Trolling is not illegal in the U.S., however it is a form of irresponsible behavior with serious repercussions. It involves posting offensive, inflammatory or provocative comments online with the intention to stir up a negative reaction.

To be responsible online, it’s necessary to abstain from this behavior. Consider the effect your words and actions can have on others, and don’t do anything that violates the terms of service of the platform. Being aware of the importance of being responsible online will help create a safe and positive atmosphere for everyone.

Pro tip: Before posting online, take a moment to think. Be respectful and kind to everyone, just like you would in the real world. Doing so will help create a safe and positive space online while also positively reflecting your values and character.

FAQs about Is Trolling Illegal In The United States?

Is trolling illegal in the United States?

Yes, trolling can be illegal in the United States under certain circumstances.

What is trolling?

Trolling can refer to any intentional online behavior that is meant to annoy, insult, or upset other people. This can include posting offensive comments or purposely disrupting online conversations.

What types of trolling can be illegal?

While not all trolling is illegal, certain types of online behavior can be considered harassment or even cyber-bullying. Examples might include stalking someone online or repeatedly sending them threatening messages.

What are the potential consequences of illegal trolling?

Penalties for illegal trolling can vary depending on the severity of the offense, but in some cases, it can result in fines or even jail time.

(Video) Inside the bizarre world of internet trolls and propagandists | Andrew Marantz

How can I avoid engaging in illegal trolling?

The best way to avoid engaging in illegal trolling is to practice online courtesy and avoid intentionally targeting or harassing others online.

What should I do if I’m the victim of illegal trolling?

If you’re the victim of illegal trolling, you should document the offending behavior and report it to law enforcement or online platforms. You may also want to seek support from friends, family, or counseling services.


Is Trolling People Online Illegal in the United States? ›

Trolling is not a crime under federal law. But under the laws of many states, harassment, stalking, and bullying are illegal. For more information, see Cyberbullying Laws by State.

Could trolls be jailed for online threats? ›

I nternet trolls who harass and abuse people online could face prison sentences of up to five years, the government has said. The Online Safety Bill could see offenders jailed for threatening to kill MPs or celebrities.

Is trolling a form of cyberbullying? ›

While the meaning of trolling has become generalized to mean something close to “bullying” as it has gained more mainstream traction, it's actually a very specific type of cyberbullying.

Is trolling a form of harassment? ›

Trolling: is an act of harassment, which primarily occurs online. It is a form of cyberbullying that can include posting rumours, threats, sexual remarks, violent comments, hate speech, or other comments that seek to intimidate or diminish an individual or group.

What to do if you are being trolled online? ›

What should you do if you're being trolled?
  1. Don't respond.
  2. Block the trolls' accounts.
  3. Don't post online that you're being targeted.
  4. Take some time out from social media.
  5. If the abuse you receive makes you feel at threat or is otherwise unlawful - report it to the social media platform and the police.

What is the penalty for trolls? ›

The provision states: "The penalty of imprisonment ranging from six (6) months and one (1) day to twelve (12) years, or a fine of up to two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00), or both, shall be imposed upon anyone who uses a fictitious identity to purchase and register a SIM card or social media account."

What are the consequences of trolling? ›

Why is trolling a problem? Trolling can cause significant harm and distress. It is associated with serious physical and psychological effects, including disrupted sleep, lowered self-esteem, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and in some cases, even suicide.

What is considered internet trolling? ›

Trolling is when someone post or comments online to deliberately upset others. In short: Trolling is when someone deliberately tries to upset others online. Trolling can lead to a pile on, when others join in the attack.

Can you report a troll? ›

If a troll is annoying you, you can block them, so you no longer see their posts. Again, most social media platforms and online forums allow you to report other users who are being abusive or hateful. If your report is successful, the troll may be temporarily suspended, or their account banned entirely.

What are some examples of trolling? ›

Types of social media trolls

Those that they are waiting for you to make the smallest mistake to make everybody aware of your error, for example a spelling mistake. They write comments that don't make any sense and their messages don't provide any value. They make jokes about any publication or topic.

What is the law around trolling? ›

Trolling is a form of baiting online which involves sending abusive and hurtful comments across all social media platforms. This can be prosecuted under the Malicious Communication Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003.

How to deal with people who troll you? ›

5 tips for dealing with online trolls
  1. Starve the troll. It's totally understandable to want to wage a war on trolls with your keyboard, but trolls thrive on others' anger, frustration and annoyance. ...
  2. Record it. ...
  3. Stand up for yourself. ...
  4. Log off. ...
  5. Tell someone you trust.

How do you get someone to stop trolling you? ›

Here's how you can shut them down.
  1. Don't Feed the Trolls. The classic internet adage still holds merit. ...
  2. Be the Boss! No Trolls Allowed. ...
  3. Add Moderators to Your Roster. ...
  4. If You Can't Ignore the Trolls, Call Their B.S. ...
  5. Kill Them with Kindness. ...
  6. Disarm Them with Humor. ...
  7. Have Friends-Only Social Profiles. ...
  8. Block, Ban, or Report Trolls.
Oct 7, 2021

Can you sue someone for trolling? ›

However, doxxing is often used in tandem with threats or demands, which may be illegal extortion. And while you may be able sue a troll for defamation over inflammatory comments posted on your posts or Facebook wall, most insults or abrasive Internet comments are simply opinions and are not actionable in court.

Are people paid to troll? ›

The Philippines has been called "patient zero in the global disinformation epidemic." Studies into the country's troll farms found that political campaigns pay trolls $1,000 to $2,000 per month to create multiple fake social media accounts to post political propaganda and attack critics.

What is harassment trolling? ›

Trolling is a form of cyberaggression. It involves the sending of malicious, abusive or derogatory messages by one user (a 'troll') to another user online, with the intention of upsetting or harassing them, or damaging their reputation.

How many people are trolled online? ›

Approximately four in every ten Americans have faced trolling, and this figure has increased drastically over the past year. Reasons for trolling vary from person to person. Some people do it out of boredom, and some want to get a response from the celebrity they idealize.

What's the difference between trolling and trolling? ›

The basic difference between these two similar terms is that trawling involves a net and is typically done for commercial fishing purposes, while trolling involves a rod, reel, and a bait or lure," and is typically done by recreational fishermen. In this light it was clear what I was doing was trolling.

Why is it called trolling? ›

The mythological and marine trolling both have their origin in indiscriminate, casual violence: the Old French hunting term troller, which meant “to wander around looking for something to kill” or “to go hunting for game with no specific purpose.” Soon, this casual hunting style gained a more popular and specific ...

Are Internet trolls jealous? ›

6) Trolls are just plain jealous, envious, and have hatred towards those who are: more intelligent, stronger, better looking, successful, and connected. Rather than be inspired by someone who did great things they hate on that person.

Can you tell if someone is trolling you? ›

Here are some common signs that someone is trolling: Patronising or dismissive tone: asking someone why they are so angry winds them up more. Off-topic comments: remarks unrelated to the thread irritate other users. Being oblivious: apparently being emotionally unaffected by anything aimed at them.

Is trolling antisocial behavior? ›

In online communities, antisocial behavior such as trolling disrupts constructive discussion.

What is another word for trolling someone? ›

Mocking and mockery. burlesque. chirp. chirp. Featured as a BuzzWord!

What is the rule of 5 trolling? ›

It's called the Rule of Fives. When trolling at 5 mph with 5 ounces of weight and 50 feet of line out, your lure will be about 5 feet below the surface. Of course, it's rare that you'll be going exactly 5 mph, using exactly 5 ounces, and letting out exactly 50 feet of line.

What is an example of a concern troll? ›

Concern trolls are the types of people who, for example, try to coax otherwise healthy fat people into dieting, claiming it's because they worry for their health.

Is it a crime to troll someone? ›

Criminal laws.

Trolling is not a crime under federal law. But under the laws of many states, harassment, stalking, and bullying are illegal. For more information, see Cyberbullying Laws by State.

Why do people troll you? ›

Most people troll others for either revenge, for attention seeking, for boredom and simply for personal amusement. For some, they could be hitting out at people who are successful, happy, and enjoying their life because maybe the troll's life isn't like that.

What are trolls weaknesses? ›

Trolls are an enemy group that are weak to bashing and fire damage, but resistant to slashing, frost, and shock damage.

Can troll accounts be traced? ›

The police will very rarely help you track down your internet troll. Even if you have circumstantial evidence, unless to hand over to the police evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt who your internet troll is, you are likely to receive very little support from the police in tracking down your internet troll.

Can you find out who a troll is? ›

Trolls avoid using their real names and information online.

They may also use a jokey or anonymous username so you don't get any idea about who they are. Then, look at their bio or “About Me” page for any identifiable information if it's available. If you aren't able to find anything, then they are probably a troll.

Are trolls anonymous? ›

Like clowns in make-up, Internet trolls hide behind "anonymous accounts and fake usernames". In their eyes, they are the trickster and are performing for a nameless audience via the Internet.

What is indirect harassment? ›

Indirect harassment occurs when the act was not aimed at the employee but creates a toxic atmosphere, or if simply put, a secondary victim is offended by an unwelcome conduct. This can manifest in several ways. A person is subjected to indirect harassment if he/she: Overhears an offensive joke or remark.

What is an example of text harassment? ›

How Many Text Are Harassment?
  • Repeated or unwanted contact.
  • Threats of violence or harm.
  • Threats of property damage.
  • Unwelcome sexually-charged texts, which can result in sexual harassment.
  • Anything else that makes you feel upset, anxious, or scared.
  • Receiving a text from a number you've previously blocked.

What is an example of psychological harassment? ›

Attacks on a person's reputation For example, ridiculing a person, spreading rumors about them, mocking or humiliating them or making insulting remarks.

Can you get in trouble for threats on the Internet? ›

More About the Federal Crime

§ 875, which makes it a crime to transmit a threatening message over a communications device, including a computer. Under that law, anyone who transmits an "interstate communication" that contains a threat to injure another person can be imprisoned for up to five years if convicted.

What happens when you ignore a troll? ›

When you're being trolled, the best thing to do is to ignore the posts. Eventually, they'll probably tire themselves out.

What is considered illegal on the internet? ›

Anything that is illegal offline is also illegal on the internet, including fraud, theft, gambling, drug trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography. Certain internet crimes, however, may only be committed online, and some people do not even realize they're engaging in illegal behavior.

Is it illegal to expose someone on social media? ›

Exposing someone on social media could lead to legal action for breach of privacy even if what you are exposing is unacceptable behaviour by the individual being exposed. Breach of privacy occurs when personal information about an individual is disclosed to the public without their consent.

Can you get in trouble for what you post on social media? ›

The police or prosecution may seek a warrant to search your social media accounts. While you may have an expectation of privacy for posts on your own site, that likely does not hold true if you post on another site – especially a government site such as a police department.

Can trolling be a crime? ›

Trolling is not a crime under federal law. But under the laws of many states, harassment, stalking, and bullying are illegal.

What kills a troll? ›

As un-Christian beings, trolls are said to go crazy when they hear the bells and run far away. Trolls are also repelled by lightning, which kills them – likely a result of their run-ins with Thor who is said to have hunted trolls across the land. What is this?

How do you respond to someone trolling you? ›

  1. Take care of yourself. Trolling can take its toll on anyone. ...
  2. Talk to someone. If you're being trolled, talking to someone can help you feel supported. ...
  3. Don't respond. People who troll want a reaction. ...
  4. Report or block it. ...
  5. Screenshot the evidence. ...
  6. Log off.

How do you track down a troll? ›

Characteristic Signs That Will Help Track a Troll
  1. The choice of a specific topic of the controversy to evoke the strong emotional reaction of a collocutor;
  2. Apparent short-sightedness or knowing too much information about everything in the world;
Mar 9, 2023

How do you know if someone is trolling you? ›

Trolls will frequently try to attack something you have revealed you like or are in favor of. If someone is trying to insult your tastes directly, or if they're generally bashing the topic of a forum or post, you probably have a troll on your hands. Another way to spot a troll is by their persistence.

How much do internet trolls get paid? ›

The Philippines has been called "patient zero in the global disinformation epidemic." Studies into the country's troll farms found that political campaigns pay trolls $1,000 to $2,000 per month to create multiple fake social media accounts to post political propaganda and attack critics.


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