The Interview: The psychology of online abusers

Journalist Paula Todd on online abusers, the joy they get from hurting others—and the rise of adult cyberbullies

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Paula Todd (Photo by Cole Garside)

Paula Todd, the author of Finding Karla and a professor of broadcast journalism at Seneca College in Toronto, is also a passionate advocate of free expression. It was her concern with threats to that freedom, from both government and some Internet users, that drove her to write her newest book, Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online. In it, Todd examines new research and reports on the Internet’s dark corners of stalking, sexual extortion and revenge porn, and what it means to our online future.

Q: One key element of your book is to expand our concept of the problem from cyberbullying to cyberabuse. There’s a whole spectrum of nastiness online that doesn’t involve just schoolchildren.

A: What I’ve been looking at is human behaviour: kids, youth and adults. Kids have been a big part of our coverage because we know that cyberbullying is hurting the emotional well-being of young people. Suicides have been linked to it. But my research revealed that the problem with cyberabuse is far, far bigger, that it is affecting adults, everybody. Not just being the target of cyberabuse, but reading it and being exposed to it all the time is bad for us. We already have a mental health problem around this world, particularly with depression, and we now know that being victims and being observers of cyberabuse increases the potential for depression. We’re building a social and mental health crisis.

Q: You argue that the cloak of online anonymity doesn’t explain it all.

A: That’s the reason we’re often given for people behaving badly online—because they can. That never made any sense to me, because I know a lot of people who do fantastic things anonymously; we’re not necessarily bad when we are anonymous. There are many different reasons people do what they do online, whether it’s bullying or tormenting—seeking out revenge-porn sites [where people post intimate pictures of ex-lovers], starting cyberstalking—and we’ve got a much larger culture at work here, with more people involved, for more reasons that we realize.

Q: But anonymity is a huge help, right?

A: It’s a huge, huge accomplice to behaviour that is compelled by a wide range of issues, whether mental health, drugs and alcohol abuse, schadenfreude—just the joy we get from seeing other people fail or suffer. Canadian research from the University of Manitoba suggests that everyday sadists and Machiavellians are at work, as well. That’s subclinical sadism, so these aren’t people who are going out into the world and kidnapping and torturing people, but the everyday variety, people who get pleasure from watching other people be hurt. Some of those harassing others are sadists who need that jolt, that chemical jolt, from harming somebody else. They are often bored and discontented, because they’re not getting feedback, not otherwise getting the pleasure they need as sadists.

Q: One worry you continually return to is the fear that abusive behaviour—which is already hurting free speech at one end of the spectrum by driving people off-line—will lead to a free-speech clampdown by government at the other end.

A: I believe that’s exactly right: Cyberabusers are laying the groundwork for government authorities to justify their intervention with our freedom. Cyberbullies and abusers are setting the rest of us up to lose what we love most about the Internet. That’s why some people in the Internet world have been very supportive of the work I’m doing, because my goal is to keep the Internet accessible to everybody. There are some white knights out there, including members of Anonymous who will look out for people online, particularly people who are being cyberabused, and some have said they will keep an eye out for me, because my goal is to keep as many people online as possible.

Q: Do you feel you’re going to need their help, that you will be the object of abuse yourself, just for writing about it?

A: There are lots of people online behaving badly, or even criminally. Some will be highly irritated that I am talking openly about what they’re doing, and the way that people most easily get revenge these days is online.

Q: So you’re warning your family, your friends, that strange things are going to happen. And all of us, in general, not to believe everything we read online?

A: I do expect that you will see pictures of me with a decapitated head and you will read nasty, nasty things, but it’s one of the points of this book: We, as a society, need to wake up. It is so easy to distort and to lie and to defame on the Internet. If we stopped believing it, if we stopped trafficking in it, we would go a long way to ending the cyberabuse problem.

Q: You write about the online abuses directed at adults, including revenge sites, some of which seem simply misogynist and pornographic, while others are fronts for blackmailers. Their effects can be devastating.

A: How would you like a sexually intimate photograph of yourself plastered all over the Internet, along with your home address, telephone number, social media handles, employer, school and any other identifying information (known as “doxing” or documenting) that revengeful exes or blackmailers use to encourage the public to join in your humiliation?

Q: It’s not just teens, fearing to lose their Internet privileges, who keep their abuse hidden. Amanda Todd’s mother, Carol, was quiet about her experiences for a long time.

A: When I first interviewed Carol Todd, she was fragile, disoriented by grief and overwhelmed by the reaction from the world—both the supporters and detractors. Throughout my research, I would conduct interviews with her when she was willing, and each time discovered a woman in a different state of emotional recovery. Todd dislikes people making a direct connection between cyberbullying and suicide, preferring to point out that her daughter, like so many teens, had social and emotional difficulties that undermined her coping ability. What alarms me is the number of people who say cyberabuse is not a serious problem because the targets are vulnerable. Well, who else is a humane society supposed to protect? There are several online detractors who still constantly accuse Carol of killing Amanda or faking her death, and of being something of a suicide stage mother. These same people are likely to come after me for daring to write about Todd as an individual, rather than evil incarnate. They will smear my reputation and insist I am somehow connected to the Todds because of my father’s last name. I am not related.

Q: I think the most incisive thing you wrote about the tone of the Internet is that it presents like a sociopath’s brain.

A: After doing so much research, it dawned on me that here is a world where you don’t have any feeling for the other person, because you can’t see them, you can’t read the necessary human cues and, eventually, you can become so disinhibited, it’s as if they don’t even exist as people. And, as I kept thinking about it and I thought, “Isn’t that the structure of a brain of a psychopath?” I found one theoretical psychiatrist who looked at that theory and said, “You know, it’s definitely possible.” We need to think about it. If we’re putting ourselves into a position similar to the way a psychopath walks around in his life—“I can’t see you, I don’t care about you, I don’t even recognize you as a person and I’m motivated by getting what I want, satisfying my needs online”—well, that’s a pretty serious problem.

Q: You have serious issues with the proposed federal legislation, Bill C-13.

A: C-13 proposes to make it illegal to share intimate images of another person without their permission. It’s aimed at curbing people taking intimate images and sharing them, especially somebody online who convinces someone to flash or to show various body parts—which, by the way, is an increasingly popular activity. We see those people sharing those images in public school, we see it in high school, we see it with adults. C-13 proposes to punish that activity if, in fact, police can even track down the people who’ve done it.

Okay, but there are 65 pages or so tacked onto the back of the bill making it easier for the police and the government to surveil what all of us are doing online. This bill would make it legal for every individual in possession of any of your personal information—the emails you’ve sent, the websites you’ve searched, the people you’re in contact with—and your metadata, which is when you sign on online, how long you stay there, what worlds you go to—to turn over to police that information without a search warrant, not in every case, but in some. The way people can be swept into that surveillance state is frightening. Now we’re considering blanket immunity for anybody who turns others’ personal information, including telecom companies, Internet service providers, the people who run Google, your neighbour, your ex-spouse, everybody? Under the guise of ending revenge pornography and the horrible exploitation of other people, the government is trying to grab a whole bunch of new surveillance power that, once again, is going to curtail free speech. This, too, will shut us down and drive us away from the Internet. This is wrong.

EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

This excerpt contains disturbing and graphic content.

As much of the Internet-connected world well knows, Amanda Todd took her own life in the late afternoon of Oct. 10, 2012. That day, she joined the tragic list of young people whose suicides are blamed in part on cyberabuse. But unlike the situation with most young victims, the details of Amanda’s death ricocheted through the Internet’s fibre-optic cables, protocols and packets to burst onto computer and television screens and newspaper front pages in every hemisphere. Websites devoted to her death—some respectful and memorializing, others gruesome— earned millions and millions of views, as candlelight vigils flickered across the world.

Yet, what very few know is that Amanda’s death didn’t stop the abuse she’d reported. Every single day since trying to breathe life back into her daughter’s still body, Carol Todd is attacked online by tormentors, cyberbullies and conspiracy theorists who traffic in lies and profanities about them both. Much of it is cruel, sexist, and threatens violence.

It’s all your fault your daughter died. You are personally responsible for her death with your blatant negligence. Why the f–k didn’t you take away your whore daughters webcam. Answer: because you’re relieved that she’s dead, and that you no longer have to compete for your ex-hubby’s romantic attention. Can you really blame him, fatty? Go kill yourself . . .

Carol, maybe if you had kept an eye on your slutty daughter and taken away her Internet privileges after she started whoring herself out online, she wouldn’t be dead right now. If Amanda was too young to be responsible for her actions (as so many of you claim) then obviously her irresponsible pieces of s–t parents are at fault. Someone should just arrange a Todd family bleach-drinking contest. Honestly.

I m sic sic disgusted that this stupid white bitch kid is getting so much attention when my sister got raped and her pictures put up for every1 to laugh at. why dont we get some caring? f–k off/die

Why did Amanda’s case receive so much attention, much to the chagrin of some commentators, many of them young? Because weeks earlier, Amanda had issued a unique plea for help over the Internet, a video she shot in her bedroom with the computer audio and camera equipment she’d used to upload her songs, chats, and, it would be revealed, a bit more.

In the eerie nine-minute video she uploaded to YouTube, Amanda hides her face behind white flashcards on which she’s written the story of her short life—the bullying, extortion, depression, self-medicating, cutting and previous suicide attempts. Her presentation is lonely and stark, its minimalism setting the despair in high relief. Afterward, hundreds would copy her technique, none with the same effectiveness as her plea for help—a plea that became a living suicide note.

Well after her suicide, fake websites still pop up blaming Amanda (and her mother) for the multi-dimensional bullying (on and off-line simultaneously) and sexual extortion she recounted.

what a f–king joke page, bitch lied about her age to get on an adult cam sight, showed her tittes to the first guy who asked then wants me to feel sorry when he showed them to everyone? give me a break, any 10 year old knows anything put on the Internet is there forever. how about a page for people who are bullied for something they have no control over like their looks? I’m glad she offed herself, one less dumb slut in the world. p.s. she’s not “smiling down on you from heaven, she’s looking up at you while she burns in hell.

She never deserved any respect. Have you seen her disgusting pictures? Underage sex, drinks, drugs—she’s better off gone, I can tell you—except that it’s all fake. She’s still alive and in care

So she slept around, flashed her boobs, then people told her she’s a slut and she killed herself? Seems legit

In the now-famous video, Amanda told the world that she wanted to “die so bad” that she drank bleach. But that didn’t stop her bullies, who hammered away at her online and off.

Nobody cared . . . 6 months has gone by . . . people are posting pics of bleach, clorex and ditches. tagging me . . . I was doing a lot better too . . . They said . . . She should try a different bleach. I hope she dies this time and isn’t so stupid.

They said I hope she sees this and kills herself . . .

After Amanda took her life that autumn day, the RCMP announced it had assigned some two dozen officers to the case. But when weeks turned into months without a public statement, the online backlash against Carol and Amanda intensified. Seven months after Amanda’s death, I asked Carol Todd to take another look for any evidence of the bullying and extortion. When she didn’t call back, I thought she’d come up empty-handed.

Late one evening, I picked up the ringing phone to the sobs of a woman in serious emotional pain. Todd had recalled that Amanda had borrowed her laptop. In the computer’s trash, she found Facebook posts Amanda tried to delete. Some of the comments appear to be ones Amanda quoted in her video. Below you can see the verbatim Facebook exchanges Todd sent me—online posts, which appear to be confirmation from the bullies themselves that Amanda had allegedly been their target.

She had been “tagged” in the Facebook conversation, which means she would have been alerted that her peers were talking about her. The number of “likes” and shares on the Facebook screen captures I received indicate that more people than were writing were watching and applauding as the teens ridiculed Amanda. (The names of the Facebook writers are visible in these postings, but I’ve given them pseudonyms in consideration of the ongoing investigation.)

Lisa: eww who would be f–ked up enough to drink bleach why wouldn’t she just jump off a building or something and kill herself before she gets pregnant by . . . and lays eggs that would be literally the spawn of satan

zach: I dont know asker shes pree f–king dumb

Karee: u guys are ruthlessly ruthless

Karee: but LOL

Lisa: eww i wouldnt waste a second of my time talking to that

zach: bhahahahha Karee

Karee: u guys are still wasting your time on Amanda todd are u jokin seriously

Karee: this pics acctually so ruth. She drank bleach its nothing to make fun of her for, she drank it to commit suicide to get away from all u f–king kids making fun of her lol

Karee: . . . i hate her but thats ruthless

Lisa: we arent wasting our time on her we are wasting our time making fun of her hoping she sees it and kills herself

Lisa: well i am

Karee: lol i love you but dude she already tried killin herself n s–t

Karee: ur a bitchhhhhhhhhhh

Karee: she moved away to get away from u guys, u guys keep following her life wtf obv u are wasting ur time on her, when shes not even beakin you you guys go out of ur way to post pictures n go on and on about her

Lisa: lol i dont care she neds to try harder shes so dumb she doesnt even know how to kill herself properly

Karee: LOL

Karee: why dont u write idown proper ways n sent it to her in the mail

Lisa: i dont have her address i dont care enough this is just funny

Karee: u just dont care about everything eh

Lisa: anything*

Karee: i hate mixed drinks :p

Lisa: me too i prefer the splash less clorox plus over the walmart brand

Karee: does it splash less..

Lisa: no not at all

Karee: what the f–k does it mean

Lisa: it means it tastes better actually im not sure ask Amanda

Karee: ii dont have her on fb

Karee: or else i would

Lisa: WHOS SIDE ARE YOU ON ARE YOU DEFENDING HER OR MAKING FUN OF HER?

zach: She did it for attention n at least she clean inside of her body n got all the grease n jizz out

Drake: hey guys not nice

Lisa: your not nce peace

Lisa: nice*

zach: Drake n ur one to talk ehh loool

Brad: Thats f–kin hilarious

Angela: kay, Lisa, saying you want her to kill herself, People posting pictures and tagging her in it and laughing at her is a little to ruth and i agree with what Karee is saying. Like ya, Lisa your pretty cool, but saying that kind of s–t doesn’t make you even more cool. The only reason why she “drank bleach” is because of this, People making fun of her. I’m sure if you went through her situation, you’d be doing some pretty ridiculous things as well. Kids all around the world do things like this when being bullied, not always for attention either, maybe they feel like they have nobody anymore? & i know alot of people who i bet you guys know to, who have tried stupid things or have been bullied. I don’t care if i’m being an “lg” right now, i’m just sticking up for her, because apparently all of you think it’s funny for someone to end their life at such a young age. & ya, i bet I sound pretty stupid, but really, she moved away because of all this, she was trying to forget about it. and now she’s starting to be happy again, and then you had to bring back her past, what if she pulls something even more stupid now? You guys will probably won’t care, but i’m sure her real friends and family will.

Lisa: that was too much to read and no f–ks are given because its Amanda todd, something like this will never happen to me because i will never go masturbate and flash a webcam when im like 12 and i will never go for guys with girlfriends and i will never f–k some skid on his sweater behind value village and i will never lie to and backstab my friends and if i want to comit suicide ill do it fast and painless and not as stupid

Angela: yeah, that’s pretty f–ked, but still . . . does this all have to be said on Facebook?

Lisa: baking cookies and cupcakes all day today who wants one i wouldnt mind going for a walk to deliver them :*

CAL: Can you come to that dotch behind the value village and bring some windex or mr clean to wash it down? – Amanda Todd

Lisa: message me if you want one theres 12 vanilla rainbow cupcakes so first 12 get one . . .

Desiree: You’re an angel bb Lisa

Carol Todd says the RCMP had taken Amanda’s computer as evidence after her death. “They would have checked the deleted material, right?” She sounds incredulous as the information sinks in.When contacted by numerous press outlets, the RCMP would say nothing more about Amanda’s case than, “It is an ongoing investigation.” Todd says they were just as uncommunicative behind the scenes. She’d put her faith in the national police, but that reliance was turning to anger.

Around Easter 2014, Carol and Norm Todd met with the RCMP to learn, just two hours before the press, that Aydin Coban, a 35-year-old Dutch man, was in a Netherlands jail, suspected of sexually extorting youth around the world. Canadian prosecutors, intent on extradition, had just laid charges against him for criminal harassment, extortion, Internet luring and child pornography—in the case of Amanda Todd. “Our commitment to Amanda throughout this investigation has been unwavering,” RCMP Insp. Paulette Freill told the Todds. Yet, questions remain: What more could the RCMP have done in the two years between complaints of Amanda’s online and off-line abuse and her 2012 suicide?

Since losing her daughter, Todd has become an ambassador for children’s mental health rights and an end to cyberabuse. She has travelled thousands of miles across North America, speaking to governments and communities alike. Yet the tormentors follow her still, accusing her of hiding the truth about Amanda’s online behaviour, a narcissistic courting of public attention, and—without proof—of financial mismanagement (the foundation is not administered by Todd, but by the arm’s-length community funding organization, Vancouver Foundation).

Everywhere on the web there are posts accusing Todd of killing her own daughter, or of faking her death for the spotlight, driving her child to suicide by permitting her to drink and smoke marijuana, or of ignoring her and being a terrible parent.

Most days, Todd holds strong against the people who still attack and defame her and Amanda online without consequences. The harassment persists, she says, often intensifying at the cruellest moments—Amanda’s birthday, the monthly anniversary of her death, and whenever Todd is involved in awareness-raising events, which some say overshadow other deserving cases.

“I’m just a mom trying to help others so they won’t know this pain.”

Excerpted from Extreme Mean: Trolls, Bullies and Predators Online by Paula Todd. Copyright © 2014 by Paula Todd. Excerpted by permission of Signal, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd. All rights reserved.




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The Interview: The psychology of online abusers

  1. I find the part about finding deleted Facebook posts in a laptop’s trash folder pretty suspicious. Anyone moderately tech savvy will tell you that because Facebook posts aren’t stored on your local machine, deleting them won’t lead to them ending up in a local trash folder.

    And since these weren’t her posts, she would have at most been able to hide them from herself, not delete them.

    • I agree with the deleted FB posts comments. They would have had to have been screencapped to have ended up in the trash. The problem with the Todd story is that there are too many anomalies not addressed. People WILL question why she was allowed so much access to webcams after the police arrived; people DO get annoyed that other suicides (e.g. Daniel Perry) get such little attention. It wasn’t the video that caused so much attention, it was the salacious story behind it. The gossip worthy flashing activity is what kept this story going – 90% of searches are for pictures. Much of the malice came as a response to the deification of Amanda and her becoming a ‘role model’ and ‘an inspiration’ based on the manipulative lies within the video. Everyone now knows that it wasn’t a one-off photo and so on. It is important to note that Carol Todd has deliberately hidden information. For instance, the RCMP email that is quoted as just warning Amanda to get off FB also said that Amanda was producing her own ‘new material’, e.g. child porn. Carol does not mention the messages she received warning her about Amanda’s activities. The truth about Amanda HAS been covered up, even though the Fifth Estate documentary came close. And the Legacy fund is run by the family – the Memorial fund is run by the Vancouver Foundation.
      The conspiracy theories are fed by the absence of funeral information (every minute detail of Amanda’s life is covered, but nothing about the crematorium or the service can be found) and by the lack of a coroner’s report. Other suicide cases since then have all had inquests, yet again nothing can be found about Amanda, even at this late date. The faking of the death is a long-shot. Other infamous kids online were taken into the care of the authorities, and it is slightly plausible that the only way to protect Amanda would be to hospitalise her for her own good and give her a new identity. Rumours aren’t that Amanda was driven to suicide by the drink and drugs, but that Carol allowing this to happen was an appalling error of judgment. ALL research shows that drink/drugs take a toll on vulnerable teens, yet Carol Todd, in her own words, was not prepared to deal with it. The issue of Carol ignoring her daughter is because when Amanda made the video (which, to a lot of people appears to be a desperate plea for help, and maybe even a covert suicide note) Carol Todd – again in her own words – said she didn’t ask about it. If Carol genuinely wanted to help other parents, she would have talked about the perils of webcam exhibitionism, and been more open about her daughter’s actions. Instead she chose to steer blame away from the complexities of the issue.
      btw – Paula Todd’s reference to Anonymous underlines the paucity of her research. I suggest you look up the definitions of Anonymous on Urban Dictionary. What she doesn’t know is that 4chan – the dire refuge of most Anons – was the source of a great deal of the Amanda attacks. Anyone with the slightest bit of knowledge would know that, which is why Paula Todd doesn’t. Most of her thinking is obsolete. And the Todd bandwagon left the station months ago. Evidence of Paula Todd’s silliness? The blurb for her book on Amazon says Amanda was 16 when she died. She was 15. Such a glaring error does not bode well for the rest of the book.

  2. In the final outcome, who has done something to try and better our world? It’s a no brainer! The ones that choose to tear every deed and word apart that this woman utters, are only adding fuel to her fire. The final outcome will result in goodness prevailing over petty, useless utterances which amount to nothing. The winner will be the GOOD Carol Todd does for others and continues to do. Her daughter’s memory is her anchor!

    • Are we really sure that any good has come of this? It’s complicated. Overuse of anti-cyberbullying campaigns have turned some people away; no one has really tackled the problem of use of webcams by young girls; people have ignored much worse problems at the heart of all this – especially parenting. It’s interesting that Paula Todd refers to Anonymous. A ton of bullying and cyber attacks have come from them, such as the persecution of Kody Maxson. They are little more than an online lynch mob. If you take the time to properly research, you can see the terrible bullying that comes from the anti-bullies for instance ‘Kody Maxson should sleep with one eye open’ (an FB page). Why did the anti-trolls ignore this page, and similar ones? Not once did Carol Todd try to stop this. She speaks of trying to help kids, then in the next breath speaks of revenge on kids who voiced an opinion about her daughter, and tries to criminalise them. In reality, the government should have spent a load of time imposing strict restrictions on the types of chatrooms that Amanda frequented; they should have invested in much more thought about just why Amanda did what she did. Instead, they went for a soft option – blame the kids for cyberbullying, and introduce laws to invade people’s privacy. The Todd story has highlighted online problems, of course, but it has also caused them. Innocent kids are given homework to do about Amanda, and return with queries like ‘What is flashing?’, ‘What does masturbating for likes mean?’. Young kids – really young kids – are puzzled about why their idol appears to be so hated. Every school and every teacher will tell you that children find the whole story upsetting in many ways. Has it helped adults to understand? Debatable. The big problem is that older kids know exactly what Amanda got up to, and think that adults who believe the story are gullible idiots. And an even more disturbing trend is that adults who are aware of Amanda’s story are turned off the subject, dismissing the important factors of cyberbullying bcause of the falseness of the story. So on balance I would say Carol Todd has achieved no good whatsoever. Quite the opposite.
      I am waiting to see Paula’s opinion of Hannah Smith. Or Megan Meier. Or Jessi Slaughter. Or even Daniel Perry. It’s not all about Amanda, you know. And these stories are far more important.

      • Apparently this story is MOST important to you? I may return with a better reply later, but I do have a life!

        • It is very important to me. By looking for stereotype cyberbulling examples, the far, far deeper problems are overlooked. Let me explain: Megan Meier wasn’t killed by random cyberbullies, she was targetted by a venomous adult woman, yet people tend to think it’s all about mindless kids or mental adults; Hannah Smith sent vile messages to HERSELF, so by continuing to blame cyberbullies is wrong, we need to look at mental health; Daniel Perry was killed by organised crime; Rebecca Sedwick had major mental problems; in fact, cyberbullying has played only a tiny part in suicides, yet media likes to think it is the sole reason behind many cases. The Todd case is extraordinarily complex. We don’t even know what parts of the story are genuine, if any. Carol Todd has been shown to lie on more than one occasion. She kept the concept of the one photo going for a long time until the Fifth Estate revealed a wider view; one of her HuffPost articles was withdrawn after irregularities; she hid the true content of RCMP emails; and so on. What I fail to grasp is why, after the cops arrived in December 2010, Amanda was still allowed to produce ‘new material’ (RCMP words) until at least November 2011; why Carol allowed her to take drugs and drink; why Carol allowed so much exposure to danger. There is something deeply disturbing about this story. How would you explain the quote from ‘Lisa’: ‘something like this will never happen to me because i will never go masturbate and flash a webcam when im like 12′? How did some random girl know so much about Amanda’s activities, yet Carol didn’t? As far as the accepted story goes, the Carol version is all about one flash photo. The bate videos have been quite hushed up. And don’t you think it odd that even now there’s been no formal inquest? However, that’s pretty irrelevant. What is relevant is to get away from focussing on cyberbullying and look at other things. Don’t fall for Carol Todd’s (or Paula Todd’s) smoke and mirrors.

          • It is very common for young girls to share certain info that would never be shared with their parent. Any adult who doesn’t already know this, has forgotten what it’s like to be a pre-teen or teen.You are trying to make something out of nothing as I see it. Nothing unusual to me, and why would any parent who experienced such a tragedy, want her “bate” videos discussed with the public? It’s assuredly painful enough for this Mom to first lose her child, and then to have to come to terms with her daughter’s antics, which she most likely wasn’t fully aware of, and then you would expect her to deal publicly with such a personal matter as “bating” to perverts and hormonal young boys? Are you for real? Should she have video taped the birth of Amanda and shared that with the public also? The woman is trying to heal through doing positive deeds for others by speaking about her horrific experiences, gathering knowledge and insight as she trips through the darkness, and extending this to others. Where is it written that she can’t deal with her loss this way, which is certainly more positive than allowing the opinions of others to influence her and possibly cause her more grief? Would any of us deserve this? If she gave in to your endless rants about her being the spawn of Satan, then what? What in the name of Allah would you do then? For an encore? We all need to walk in other’s shoes, even if they don’t fit, we will then understand, and it won’t be because we finally conceive where “said” person is coming from, but because we will then be able to grasp where we come from and how we are basically the same in many of our behaviors.

          • For some reason the reply button wasn’t below the next comment. I think you miss the point. Carol Todd WAS aware of Amanda’s antics: the police arrived in December 2010, and wrote to her asking her to prevent Amanda from producing more material in October 2011. The fact that the girl knew of Amanda’s activity points to the fact that everyone knew – not that there was any blackmail/predator shenanigans. So – if the cops call with warnings more than once, why didn’t Carol respond in some way? However. By NOT mentioning Amanda’s online performances, part of the problem has not been addressed. Like I’ve said before, people attack ‘cyberbullies’ or trolls but I’ve not seen any government legislation to control teen chatrooms, to make them more moderated and so on. Carol is healing by lying – essentially blaming everyone else. She never stepped in when the Maxson family were subjected to a vendetta (shopkeepers were urged not to serve Mrs Maxson, an innocent woman) so I can’t see her having much empathy/sympathy. All she does with her actions is actually pretty egotistical – it’s why people have turned away. Other parents have suffered, but the Amanda Todd name obscures everything. Crikey – Mrs Todd WOULD have shared the birth video if she could – the media was inundated with photos. Also, Mrs Todd seems unaware that the more she publicises the story, the more she manages to maintain interest not in much decent, but in Amanda’s online shows. She THINKS her daughter’s fame is attached to lovey-dovey stuff, but it’s not. It’s almost entirely based on prurient interest. One of the reasons why I criticise her is that, by pointing at cyberbullies, predators, trolls and whatnot, she simply provides an excuse for parents to continue their lackadaisical approach. If she admitted her flaws, I might be more sympathetic, but as it is she has lied too much. I could forgive that at the beginning, but to deliberately mislead the public for so long is not right. You say ‘walk in other people’s shoes’. Why was it that Carol went on and on about how her daughter was so innocent and couldn’t be blamed for what she did because she was just a child, but then also went on and on about how all the ‘bullies’ (who were children) should be punished and criminalised? Weren’t the parents of those kids also unaware of what was going on? Weren’t those kids also young and naive, dumb and inexperienced? If you apply rules such as compassion and understanding to Carol Todd, it only seems fair to extend that to the bullies or the kids who just made nasty remarks.. Or doesn’t that apply in the world of anti-trolls? Remember: the new child porn laws would have seen Amanda in severe trouble, as a producer. Perhaps even more so than the trolls. It’s time to think about all this, but I doubt anyone will. Never mind. Laters. x

  3. Paula Todd’s writing about Carol Todd in her book suffers from two major problems. Firstly, Paula Todd’s own hopeless inability to check the sense of what she writes, and secondly, writing about a subject that is, in itself, a pack of lies, demands heightened attention to detail.

    The Macleans article is head-shakingly bad. Just what has happened to journalism these days? It seems to be full of idiots churning out mind-numbingly unresearched and unchecked copy, then publishing it for all to see as if it is some kind of big deal. I will more than likely come back to the rest of the article later on in the week, but for now I will just examine the ridiculous Carol Todd nonsense. The rest of the crap can wait.

    So. I ask you to think about this.

    ‘Seven months after Amanda’s death, I asked Carol Todd to take another look for any evidence of the bullying and extortion.’ Fair enough.

    ‘Todd had recalled that Amanda had borrowed her laptop. In the computer’s trash, she found Facebook posts Amanda tried to delete.’ OK. Doesn’t that ring some alarm bells? Seven months later Carol Todd suddenly decides to look in the trash and finds posts Amanda tried to delete? It just doesn’t ring true.

    Let’s think. How would Facebook posts end up in the trash? It simply doesn’t happen. On Facebook, you can only delete either your own comments or things on your timeline or page, and they don’t go into the trash. Any simpleton knows that. Except experts like Paula Todd and Carol.

    For comments to end up in the trash, they would have to have been either screen-capped or subjected to a cut and paste job. But why would that have happened, and why did they end up in the trash seven months later, and why would Carol decide suddenly to look there?

    OK. Let’s make up a story. Amanda sees the comments while using her mom’s laptop. But then what? She copies them and then deletes them. Did she send them to someone? It’s unlikely, as she could have just directed people to the Facebook location. Why, having read them, would she copy them and then delete them? As usual, I would love someone to help me out here by commenting, but that never happens. All I can do is apply my own quite sensible rule – if something doesn’t make sense after every attempt to make sense of it, it’s a lie.

    Here is my theory. If you have a laptop and you are, as Carol Todd has called herself, quite tech-savvy, you would maybe empty your trash more regularly. However, we’ll give Carol the benefit of the doubt. So. Seven months later, having not bothered about emptying the trash, someone asks about evidence of Amanda’s bullying, a light bulb lights up over your head and you say ‘I know. I’ll look on the trash on my laptop’. Does that make sense? Never in a million years. Another rule: if something seems extraordinarily far-fetched, it’s a lie.

    I have a big suspicion – supported as usual by observation and experience – that Carol and/or Amanda falsified this evidence. It is just too peculiar that it shows up by some miracle seven months later. But people can make up their own minds. And bear in mind that Carol has always said that she knew who the bullies were, so it wouldn’t take much for her to fill in the names.

    Paula Todd then writes this bilge: ‘I’ve given them pseudonyms in consideration of the ongoing investigation’. There is no ongoing investigation concerning bullying. Like I said – Carol and Amanda knew who these people were, there’s no big Sherlock Holmes inspection going on. Rumour has it that all the bullies involved have been dealt with. It’s all fiction.

    However, all the Todd supporters will still be finding some excuse for all this, pretending that Carol was capable of suddenly having the idea to look in the trash, and that there is some ongoing investigation. So I deliver the ‘wtf?’ punchline as usual, in this utterly give-the-game-away statement:

    ‘Carol Todd says the RCMP had taken Amanda’s computer as evidence after her death. “They would have checked the deleted material, right?” She sounds incredulous as the information sinks in.’

    What the Hell does that mean? Look closely and ponder. Earlier on on the article, Carol Todd says the ‘evidence’ was on HER laptop, One minute the deleted material is on Carol’s laptop, next minute it’s on Amanda’s?

    When lying, people always make huge mistakes. When writing piss-poor polemical books, the over-zealous author tends to overlook glaring errors. If this evidence was so shocking and incriminating, why did Carol Todd choose to share it with Paula and not the police? I’ll tell you why – because it’s faked.

    Thanks for your attention.

    • In all fairness Mr. Rose you said you “think I missed the point,” yet I think it is you dear who have missed the point. No matter how much you cry foul on others, you do not display one bit of compassion. Can you explain that in the general sense?

      • Interesting you mention compassion. Can I really feel for a woman who allowed her daughter to drown on the Internet? The cops came in December 2010 and carried on giving warnings throughout 2011. The entire story is rife with huge errors. However, let’s give endless excuses about that, and about how she supported cyberbullying against Kody Maxson and others. Let’s forgive the lies – how it changed from a story of one photo in a one-to-one webcam encounter to a story of several displays in crowded chatrooms. Let’s forget that Carol Todd has not once warned of the perils of what her daughter truly did, and hasn’t campaigned for tightening of moderation in teen chatrooms and so on. Let’s forget she has pointed the finger at cyberbullies and imaginary predators, whilst neglecting to tell us that, by today’s Canadian laws, her daughter was a purveyor of child-porn. OK – let’s forget and forgive all of that. Let’s have some compassion. So I ask you to think. Would you, if you had a daughter, a son, a friend, want people to see: ‘that was too much to read and no f–ks are given because its Amanda todd, something like this will never happen to me because i will never go masturbate and flash a webcam when im like 12 and i will never go for guys with girlfriends and i will never f–k some skid on his sweater behind value village and i will never lie to and backstab my friends and if i want to comit suicide ill do it fast and painless and not as stupid’
        The above statement damns the writer, but damns Amanda as well. Compassion? I’m not particularly spiritual, and I am doubtful about an afterlife, but I have an innate belief that a person’s memory should be respected. Carol Todd is too obsessed, and fails to realise that, in fact, her daughter’s memory has been dragged through the dirt to an extent that is very sad. She refuses to see the downside of keeping Amanda’s memory alive. For every ‘Light up Purple’ dozens more pictures of bleach-chugging appear; for every mention of ‘Princess Snowflake’ more pictures of a topless Amanda appear; every visit to a school creates more searches for ‘Amanda Todd boobs’ or ‘Amanda Todd videos’. As more of the truth about Amanda’s life escapes, so her memory suffers. It’s a shame. The superficial campaigning of Carol Todd is valid – what destroys most of it is the underlying story. You have no idea how confusing this is for children. Extend compassion to those who deserve it. In all honesty, Carol Todd’s inept parenting – allowing her to drink, take drugs, display online – was tantamount to killing her own daughter. The whole story is tragic, but the aftermath is becoming even more so.

        • Allow me to pose this question? Where would you who are relentless in your pursuit of the true story, be if Carol Todd were to close up shop today and mourn forever in private? Every move this woman makes is fuel to your fire, so I will be bold enough to say that you are strangely pleased that she continues on in her pursuit with her own way of trying to make some good out of something so sad and undeniably horrible. Unless you are Carol herself, or know her very well, it is improper to judge as if it has happened to you, so until that happens , and I pray it never does, you couldn’t possibly know, now could you? It is you who must let her daughter’s memory rest, for as her mother, it is Carol’s maternal right to mourn her child in the way that she see’s fit, and certainly you of all others have no say at all. This is pitiful, and I can’t believe your insight is lacking so much.

          • This comment thread has become odd, as it only really seems to be you and me. Firstly, can I say that it is important to see the true story, because then people might address the real issues. I find it frustrating that every time a kid gets in trouble the media shout ‘cyberbullying’ as they did with Hannah Smith, Rebecca Sedwick and many others. This took the focus away from deeper problems – like cyber self harm, the effects of poverty and a broken home, general mental health and so on.
            Like I said before, if Carol’s crusade had been better, I would not have said anything. However for many reasons it’s actually quite dangerous. I have done my research – many experts know that talking of suicide and glorifying it (as happened to a certain extent in the Todd case) is not a good thing, as it causes suicide ideation. But she never stepped back to listen to this – carried away by her popularity. In her blog, she advocated not arguing about Amanda’s drug and drink habit, which is also a contributory factor to Amanda’s destiny. Then we find in the Fifth Estate documentary that over a period of time Amanda had had free rein to author her own demise.
            People’s actions might mean well, but they need to apply some thought. The Todd case is just awkward because of its complexities. Of course she has a right to mourn. But she also has a right to tell the truth. But I have a right to offer criticism of her and what she says, because a lot of that criticism is valid. Is she really mourning, or has she gone past that point? Maybe ask yourself that question. There is a fine line between simply mourning and slipping into a revenge mentality. Carol doesn’t realise that for every person who thinks Amanda is wonderful, many more spend their time ridiculing her in the worst possible way. Whatever you might think, it is such a shame that Carol’s perseverance also helps to keep all of Amanda’s activities in circulation. Carol doesn’t realise the confusion of many kids who, researching the story, encounter things they find upsetting, nor does she appreciate the threat of suicide ideation. And, as is easily seen more lately, her headlining of Amanda Todd has begun to work against her – the ‘Snowflake Walk’ last year dropped her and many more have done so. Why? Because she makes it all about Amanda, and organisers want to focus on others. To a certain extent, it’s not her messag that makes her important – it’s purely celebrity. Campaigners are beginning to see that, although Carol is a good headliner, she’s not actually good for the greater cause because people tend to turn away from the Todd story, and thus all the other stories. It’s like this: people thought ‘Oh the Amanda Todd story was so sad and so shocking’ and extended compassion. Months later people say ‘Hey, that story wasn’t true. Didn’t she flash and masturbate on webcam? Yuck.’ People don’t like to feel tricked. So….when another case is spoken of, people feel ‘Oh good Lord – not another Todd story!’ instead of worrying about it. Sure, a few people stayed on the bandwagon, but take a look at this thread. Not many people care any more. And if (like me) you follow this closely, most comments on Todd news get closed as soon as people write ‘Isn’t this about parenting?’ or similar comments. Believe me, the sooner Carol does choose to mourn in silence, the better.
            btw – my insights are far more than you might think. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I know more about Amanda than her own mother did. But then again, that’s not much to boast about.

  4. ‘Everywhere on the web there are posts accusing Todd of killing her own daughter’ – everywhere? On every Facebook page, on every comment thread? No, not really. This sort of accusation arises because, after all this time, there has been no formal inquest. People want a full report about what is, essentially, the most famous death in Canada. Bruises left by CPR would be the same as bruises left by a fight. If Ms Todd wants the rumours to stop, just where is the full inquest? ‘or of faking her death for the spotlight’ – this is not true, simply because it’s too much. However, the suggestion has been that, given Amanda’s situation, she may have been taken in to care for her protection, and maybe given another identity to stop the online attacks. It’s not unheard of – Jessi Slaughter was put under supervision. ‘driving her child to suicide by permitting her to drink and smoke marijuana’ – again, not true. What is true is that people have wondered why a child who was so obviously mentally weak was allowed to indulge in what is widely seen to be activities that have a damaging effect on vulnerable people. ‘or of ignoring her’ – this stems from two things: the fact that Carol was absent from late 2010 to 2012, and the fact that when Amanda did the video, Carol, in her own words, ‘didn’t ask’ about it’. ‘and being a terrible parent’ – unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence for that. If cops warn once in December 2010, that may be a mistake. For them to come back nearly a year later and have to warn again is negligence. Carol Todd boasts of being tech-savvy. She’s a teacher. This is what makes it all much worse – she’s supposedly not an idiot. There’s no excuse. Like I said, if the cops call once it can be seen as an oversight caused by a secretive teen, but if they call again to say that Amanda is producing more material and virtually beg Carol and Norm to keep her away from the Internet, something is seriously amiss. Meanwhile – isn’t it a bit odd that we have NO trace of a funeral, and NO trace of an inquest or coroner’s report? Are the authorities too scared to say that it might have been the fault of Amanda or Amanda’s parents?

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