Online trolls abuse Robin Williams' daughter: Why they do it

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
What makes trolls abuse others on the internet?

Recent studies could help us understand why people abuse others on the internet. Researcher Erin Buckels has some insight into why Robin Williams' daughter received photoshopped images of her dead father, causing her to leave the internet until she heals. According to Buckels, there are sadists on the internet who do it just for the joy.


Robin Williams' daughter Zelda Williams has had to endure internet abuse. According to new sources at least two people sent her photoshopped images of Robin Williams's dead body. Twitter is now taking a closer look at this type of internet abuse that is commonly known as trolling. What motivates people to post horrible messages on social media?

Why it happens

I have been following researcher Erin Buckels who has been studying the behavior of online trolls that Buckels says are sadists of the internet.

One study Buckels published titled "Trolls just want to have fun" highlights how online trolling correlates closely with personality disorders that include sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

The most robust association between online trolling and personality disorder is sadism.


Buckels explains internet trolling happens when people behave in a disruptive or destructive way on social internet sites.

Even though the public is aware of trolls on the internet, there has not been much research about personality types who engage in sadistic behaviors on the internet, Buckels writes.

More focus needed on internet sadists

Perhaps Zelda Williams' taunting from these sorts of sadists will bring more focus to the 'nastiness' that others have also experienced. Indeed, Twitter is now taking a closer look at their policies for reporting such trolls.

Understanding that there are indeed sadists among us who take joy in being cruel on the internet could perhaps help others cope. The "virtual world" is as rife with darkness as is the real world and in both cases it stems from distinct and identifiable personality traits.

Zelda Williams has taken herself off social media, having been the target of "everyday sadists". Buckels advises ignoring sadistic internet trolls.



As often happens, it takes a heart-wrenching event to spark action. Thankfully Twitter is taking a closer look at its policies re trolling. Hopefully other sites will do the same.
Yes, I agree. There have been many victims but it goes on and on.
I know what robin williams would say.
Adam - You will have to tell me sometime. :)
I know this is a public forum so i won't, but i know he would!