‘Troll’ gets new definition just in time for Trump’s Hillary Clinton tweet

Merriam-Webster has added a couple of hundred new words or definitions, and one of its updates is to the word “troll.”

“Frequently (but not necessarily) internet-related we have a new sense of troll meaning “to harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts,” the dictionary said in a blog post about the changes it made last week.

It’s probably time.

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Sign up for the free Good Morning Silicon Valley newsletter.

After all, the president of the United States has been called “troll in chief,” or “the best troll in all of politics,” and he does a lot of that trolling on Twitter. He’s not alone; other politicians insult each other on social media. But President Trump’s tweets are probably the most closely watched, and they’re often controversial and fit the Merriam-Webster definition in that they criticize, harass, mock and/or disparage.

For an example, let’s reach all the way back to… Sunday, or yesterday.

That’s when Trump retweeted a doctored video that shows Trump hitting a golf ball that hits his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, in the back.

The video was tweeted by an account called CNN Sucks, which has more than 21,000 followers and whose handle is @Fuctupmind. The tweet that accompanied the video: “Donald Trump’s amazing golf swing #CrookedHillary.”

It’s not the first time Trump has tweeted a video that depicts violence; in July he tweeted a parody of a video that showed him wrestling and slamming to the ground a person with a CNN logo for a face. Many, including CNN, called the tweet an encouragement of violence against reporters, but Twitter told CNN it didn’t violate its terms of service.

Twitter’s terms of service say that it could lock or suspend accounts that “promote violence.”

What about this time around? Does the president’s tweet showing Clinton being knocked to the floor of an airplane by a golf ball qualify?

“We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons,” a Twitter spokeswoman told SiliconBeat on Monday.

Trump’s Clinton retweet — which comes as the former secretary of state is on a tour to promote her new book and is sharply criticizing the president — generated some passionate reactions, including:

Twitter has dealt with numerous calls to ban Trump from Twitter, but it doesn’t seem likely that the San Francisco company will do anything to stop the presidential trolling. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has called the president’s use of the social network “complicated,” but has said it’s “important” to hear directly from Trump. Sunday, Trump himself retweeted a Bloomberg article about one analyst’s estimate that the president is worth $2 billion to Twitter. In addition, a recent Pew survey showed that the percentage of users who use Twitter as a news source has jumped 15 percentage points, to 74 percent, since Trump became president.


Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, on Oct. 9, 2016. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)


Tags: , , , , ,


Share this Post