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Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Republic of trolls

Trolls are eroding Twitter's user base in the same toxic fashion all revolutions consume their best

Social networks are a numbers game. The value of the network to users grows as more people sign up. The same logic works in reverse. So it is no wonder that the folks at Twitter are worried about the recent fall in its user base.

Chief executive Dick Costolo has said in an internal memo that the microblogging site is losing core users because of trolls. He said the company is doing a poor job of dealing with abuse from trolls. It is not clear whether we are seeing an online version of Gresham’s Law, with the bad driving out the good. But the trolls are eroding Twitter’s user base in the same toxic fashion all revolutions consume their best.

Twitter has been a tool of empowerment. It helped mobilize protesters during the Arab Spring. It offers ordinary citizens a tool to ask tough questions of the powerful. It can potentially be a platform of democratic debate. But has it now become a partisan echo chamber punctured by the shrillness of the trolls?

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