Darren Burton, who trolls the internet under the alias Nimrod Severen leaving bigoted, racist and offensive comments, was exposed in an episode of investigative BBC television show, Panaroma, reports CNET.com.
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A resident of Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom, Burton is one of many people who use social media as a tool to anonymously spew hatred, knowing that physical retaliation or legal consequence is improbable.
In an episode that aired Monday night, the BBC revealed various posts made by Burton on random Facebook RIP pages, ranging from “Rot in Piss” to “Rot in Piss you filthy n*gger.”
BBC’s Declan Lawn, attempted to tap into Burton’s sense of decency, but met with extreme callousness and disrespect. When asked by the investigative reporter did he ever feel remorse or take the feelings of those individuals whom may be hurt by his offensive words into consideration, Burton answered with the cocksure demeanor of a 5th grade bully:
“Yeah,” he said with a shrug,”F*** ’em.”
Burton remained defensive — yet confident — throughout the entire interview, saying that everything he wrote on Facebook was a matter of free speech:
“Facebook is an open forum,” he insisted. If he does face legal ramifications for hate speech, he casually referenced a previous case during which his time served was minimal:
“Nine weeks? Nine weeks in jail? What’s that?”
Facebook — though notorious for border-line violating the privacy options of its users — has not made much of an effort to expose blatantly disrespectful users who harrass and diminish the FB experience for other individuals. CNET.com reports on a Holocaust denial page as an example of Facebook’s unwillingness to sacrifice freedom of expression to censure hate speech:
“The bottom line is that, of course, we abhor Nazi ideals and find Holocaust denial repulsive and ignorant. However, we believe people have a right to discuss these ideas and we want Facebook to be a place where ideas, even controversial ideas, can be discussed.”
Though the Burtons of the world may be safe for the moment, Facebook marketing director, Randi Zuckerberg, hopes to see that change in the near future:
“I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away,” she said during a Marie Claire panel discussion last September. “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”
While freedom of speech is definitely a right that should be protected at all costs, the consequences of such freedom should not be mitigated by anonymity. Maybe it’s time that the Burtons of the world realize that if they want to call someone a “n*gger, they need to be bold enough to say it without hiding safely behind a computer screen.
Accountability is the only way that these “trolls” will get the message, even though they probably wouldn’t “Like” that.