Why good people turn bad online By Gaia Vince (Trigger Warning)

Daedalus Magazine

Meet the scientists finding out how we can defeat our inner trolls and build more cooperative digital societies.

On the evening of 17 February 2018, Professor Mary Beard posted on Twitter a photograph of herself crying. The eminent University of Cambridge classicist, who has almost 200,000 Twitter followers, was distraught after receiving a storm of abuse online. This was the reaction to a comment she had made about Haiti. She also tweeted: “I speak from the heart (and of cource I may be wrong). But the crap I get in response just isnt on; really it isnt.”

In the days that followed, Beard received support from several high-profile people. Greg Jenner, a fellow celebrity historian, tweeted about his own experience of a Twittestorm: “I’ll always remember how traumatic it was to suddenly be hated by strangers. Regardless of morality – I may have been wrong or right in my opinion…

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