The internet is a wonderful, wild ride; a place of infinite knowledge and infinite misinformation. You can find anything online to prop up a ridiculous opinion. It is the place where conspiracy theories thrive like fungus at the base of a leafy tree.
It is also the perfect hiding place for trolls. People lurk waiting for the tiniest hink of criticism of a favorite cause or celebrity or politician or point of view or scientific fact and then pounce–slagging and slamming until their victims log off exhausted.
There have been a number of examples of this. As any author or blogger can tell you, we get nasty, nasty comments from people who haven’t even bothered to read our stuff but just heard or assumed and wham, the trolls go on attack. I’ve had a very mild experience with this, as has my husband.
But some people, I can’t even imagine what they’ve had to endure. There’s a mother who lost a child in Sandy Hook who has written a book about her experience. It’s empathetic and thoughtful and tears at your heart. But it’s also fodder for people who deny the massacre ever happened. They say that these attacks are staged to foster an atomosphere so the US government will impose tougher gun laws. I am very sick of the gun argument in the US because it seems illogical and neverending but that’s not the point.
The point of the story is that Scarlett Lewis wrote a book that got really good reviews from the pros and non-biased readers but then The Truthers heard about it and started slagging it on Amazon. Their reviews are one-star and vicious. The article above states that Amazon allows reviews from non-verified purchasers of books. I know that to be true because I’ve had people go on rants against my books based on a preview!
Now some say it’s only fair for anyone to comment on books because they may have read it at the library or borrowed it from a friend. Okay, but given the heft Amazon ratings have and the impact on future readers I would hope they change their policies. Surely there are other places for people to comment on books they haven’t purchased. There are a million forums online for people to vent or praise.
Trolling has become such a problem and so abusive that some online papers are closing their articles to comments.
One other note–the minute someone self-identifies as a Truther, be very suspicious.
Here’s the link to the book if you want to judge for yourself:
And as a palate cleanser, here’s Bill Nye shooting down one of the silliest notions out there.