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Anorak | What happened when Leo Traynor met his Twitter Troll

What happened when Leo Traynor met his Twitter Troll

by | 25th, September 2012

LEO Traynor met a troll. He left twitter when he was tageted. He joined twitter in May 2007. In July 2009, he received a message:

“Dirty f*cking Jewish scumbag”

He blocked the messages. But more messages came. He was inundated. His Facebook account was hacked, his blog was spammed and his email address “flooded with foulmouthed and disgusting comments & images. Images of corpses and concentration camps and dismembered bodies.”

He ignored the abuse, thinking the idiot (s) would grow tired of it and leave him alone. Then Leo’s wife joined twitter and identified herself as “The long suffering wife of @LeoTraynor”.

That triggered the direct message:

“Your husband is scum. A rotten b*stard and you’re a wh*re.”

They laughed it off. But it got worse. Her indoors decided to leave twitter.

Leo writes:

The whole thing escalated in June, July and August this year. I received more and more abuse on the timeline and via DMs. A crossword clue account I’d started (@Leo’sClue) was inundated with abuse too. Then one day something happened that truly frightened me. I don’t scare easily but this was vile.

I received a parcel at my home address. Nothing unusual there – I get a lots of post. I ripped it open and there was a tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes. There was a note included ‘Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz’ I was physically sick.

He reported the incident to police. Flowers for his wife’s death were left at his door. Then he received the message:

“You’ll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.”

Then:

“I hope you die screaming but not until you see me p*ss on ur wife”

He closed his twitter account.

But he wanted to know the abuser.

In July I was approached by a friend, who’s basically an IT genius, and he offered some help. He said that he could trace the hackers and trolls for me using perfectly legal technology, which would lead to their IP addresses. I said yes. Then I baited them – I was deliberately more provocative toward them than ever I’d been before.

Holidays intervened. My Twitter account was deactivated but before doing so I posted links to my Google+ account, blog and invited people to contact me on Facebook. I’m delighted that a lot of my lovely friends did. I’m also delighted that The Troll did too.

It transpired that the abuse had emanated from three separate IP addresses in different corners of Ireland. Two of them were public wifi locations but the third….

The third location was the interesting one.

The third location was a friends house.

The Troll was his son. His 17yr old son.

The teenagers had used all three IP addresses.

Leo told the troll’s father. They arranged for a day out. The teenager was not told that his victim would be there.

“Do you still like choc chip cookies?” I asked The Troll and he nodded eagerly, a shadow of the little boy that was flickering across his face.

We had a chat. I told them about my wife and son. I told them about my recent illnesses and bereavements and about the builders having been in. I asked after their business and asked The Troll how college is going. All bright and breezy and a trip down memory lane. Then The Troll’s Dad tipped me the wink and I opened my bag and took out my manila folder.

I showed The Troll’s mother and father screengrabs and printouts of his handiwork.

I showed them pictures of ashes and dead flowers.

I pointed out that one of the messages my wife received wishing me dead had arrived when I actually was gravely ill.

I told them of how I’d become so paranoid that I genuinely didn’t know who to trust anymore.

I told them of nights when I’d walked the rooms, jumping at shadows and crying over the sleeping forms of my family for fear that they would suffer because of me.

Then it happened…

The Troll burst into tears. His dad gently restraining him from leaving the table.

I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him “Why?”

The Troll sat there for a moment and said “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

The idiot’s mother offered to call the police.

I responded: “I’m not criminalizing a 17 year old kid and ruining his future. But I will write about it – and you must all guarantee me that he’ll go and see a counsellor about this or I will go legal on you.”

Then I got up to leave. I looked The Troll in the eye and said “Stand up.”

He stood. I said “Look at me. I’m a middle aged man with a limp and a wheeze and a son and a wife that I love. I’m not just a little avatar of an eye. You’re better than this. You have a name of your own. Be proud of it. Don’t hide it again and I won’t ruin it if you play ball with your parents. Now shake hands.”

“I’m sorry.” he said, and looked like he meant it. “Thanks for giving me a break dude.”

Dude.



Posted: 25th, September 2012 | In: Key Posts, Technology Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink