Internet trolls are known for posting rude, mean and offensive content around the web, in the hopes of sparking controversy, but 25-year old Sean Duffy took trolling too far and now he’s paying with jail time. Duffy is serving 18 weeks in jail in the UK for videos and messages that he posted on Facebook and YouTube, mocking the deaths of teenagers. If you ask us, he deserves much more.
According to The Guardian, Duffy was caught targeting Facebook tribute pages and posting videos on YouTube that taunted a number of dead teens as well as their friends and families. Steven Morris writes, “Among his victims was Natasha MacBryde, 15, who died instantly when hit by a passenger train near her home in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.” The 15-year old killed herself after being sent messages on a social networking site by an anonymous bully. Apparently, Duffy posted comments such as, “I fell asleep on the track lolz” on the Facebook page that Natasha’s brother had created in tribute to his sister. Duffy also posted a video to YouTube called “Tasha the Tank Engine” that showed Natasha’s face, superimposed on Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Guardian reports that the trolling attacks began back in 2010, following the death of Haley Bates, a 16-year old that died in a car crash. He posted doctored photos of her and wrote captions such as “Used car for sale, one useless owner” on crash site photos.
Duffy also posted offensive images relating to the death of 14-ear old Lauren Drew, who died from an epilepsy attack back in January, and to the death of 14-year old Jordan Cooper, who was stabbed to death. The explanations of the content Duffy posted are pretty gruesome. You can read more about it here.
The chair of the bench, Paul Warren, who decided to jail Sean Duffy for 18 weeks, said, “You have caused untold distress to already grieving friends and family. The offences are so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified.” Even Duffy’s own lawyer, Lance Whiteford, said, “In terms of mitigation there is none. I cannot imagine the trauma and anxiety caused to the families of these horrible, despicable offenses.”
Morris writes that, “The court heard that Duffy has Asperger’s syndrome and lived a ‘miserable existence’ drinking alcohol alone at his home in Reading.” His lawyer asserted that, because of his condition, Duffy wasn’t aware of the pain he was causing his victims’ families and friends. In addition to the 18 week sentence, Duffy will also be prohibited from using social media sites for the next five years, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Myspace and Bebo.
Unfortunately, this is just one example (though definitely an extreme one) of an Internet troll anonymously lashing out at victims on the web. We are seeing more and more instances of trolling and Internet bullying, but hopefully this story will serve as a wakeup call for other trolls out there.
What do you think about Sean Duffy’s actions and his punishment? Do you think 18 weeks in jail is enough?
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.