The Myth of Free Speech in the Realm of Online Trolling: Exploring Cyber Shadows Through Psychological Lens


  • Aqsa Farooq BS English student, Department of English, University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan Author
  • Rahat Bashir Lecturer, Department of English. University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan Author
  • Sadia Asif Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics and Communication, University of Management and Technology Author



Instagram post comments, hate speech, free speech, deindividuation, dark triad, psychological


The emerging time of the internet has made people across the globe collide at the same point with very different yet inquisitive mindsets. Meanwhile, it is observed that most social media posts are bombarded with online trolling. The purpose of this study is to untie the complex knots of the free speech notion that people on social media use as their right to share opinions, but they inject hate speech through their contributions, which can be examined by the support of Instagram's comment section which has the focal significance in my data collection. Data is collected by purposive sampling, by taking the comments from the recent viral posts mainly of two categories, one of political figures and the second of celebrities. The data is then analyzed through a psychological lens, examining the psychological factors behind such destructive involvements with the assistance of dark triad theory, which was coined by researchers Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams in 2002, and deindividuation theory by social psychologist Leon Festinger in the 1950s. The qualitative data shows how people on social platforms have become cyber shadows to engage in such anti-normative and disruptive behaviours. The results show that social media post comments portray the personalities of online trolls as having a shield of anonymity and factors of dark personality traits of Narcissism, where they give excessive importance to themselves only, Machiavellianism, because of their manipulative behaviour they can mould their grudges into honest opinions, and Psychopathy because of their apathetic view towards one's self-destruction and depression, tempt them to involve in such situations. Researchers should also reflect upon how people in our surroundings are misleading the very essence of free speech by using its negative connotations. In conclusion, the analysis shows that this is not what they call free speech; rather, it is utter hate speech with the intent to disturb and disrupt human living and social peace.


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How to Cite

Aqsa Farooq, Rahat Bashir, & Sadia Asif. (2024). The Myth of Free Speech in the Realm of Online Trolling: Exploring Cyber Shadows Through Psychological Lens. University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics and Literature, 8(I), 139-149.

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