Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Law and Justice

Committee Chair

Dr. Cody Stoddard

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michael Harrod

Third Committee Member

Dr. Roger Schaefer

Abstract

ABSTRACT

STRATEGIES AND BEHAVIORS OF CYBER

DEVIANCE AND INTERNET TROLLING

by

Cody Mason Taylor

August 2017

As society shifts towards making social media a center focus of contemporary life, trolls, are continually developing distractive dialogue. Although trolls may not be deviant in the sense of harsh online crimes, trolls do cause problems within online communities.

Jonathan Bishop (2014) and Whitney Phillips (2015) have developed a foundation of internet troll research. Bishop (2014) studied the behaviors of trolls, while Philips (2015) investigated their techniques. However, neither researcher sampled from an online massive multiplayer Online game.

Using one of the largest online gaming communities, World of Warcraft, this research examines the techniques and behaviors of trolling. Trolling was found to mainly be a response mechanism that consisted of heavy mockery and improvisation. This study indicates that trolls successfully disrupt and reroute conversations using a variety of mechanisms and techniques. General findings indicate that, while trolls may distract and derail public conversations, a clear majority of the activity reflected more juvenile and irritating behavior rather than significant threats to society.

The research of strategies and behaviors of cyber deviance examined in this work creates a foundation for future examinations of trolling behavior. While this study inspects the strategies, future studies look to reveal the goals of trolls. Although trolling may be considered deviant, it has become an important aspect of the online culture that needs to be investigated.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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