Health

Experts say autism may play a role in targeting trolls

  • The creator of the network, Chris Chan, was arrested on August 1 on one count of incest.
  • She has been the target of a violent trolling campaign since her comic “Sonichu” went viral in 2007.
  • Experts told Insider that Chan’s autism diagnosis could have made her an easier target for trolls.
  • Visit the Insider home page to find out more.

Internet creator Christine Weston Chandler was arrested and charged with incest on August 1 after leaking an audio recording claiming Chandler had sex with her 79-year-old mother. Immediately, the corners of the internet, which had spent over a decade documenting and obsessing over Chandler’s life, were set ablaze with reports of her arrest.

Chandler is considered one of the most famous victims of online trolling in Internet history. After facing brutal persecution, she garnered her followers on YouTube and other platforms.

The trolls continue to haunt her to this day. Even the audio recording that went viral on July 30 appears to have been circulated by an internet troll.

Chandler, 39, from Ruckersville, Virginia, began to face harassment online in 2007 when a critic posted a mocking post on a Wikipedia clone for trolls: Dramatic Encyclopedia, about a comic character created by Chandler called “Sonicu”, a fusion of characters from the video game Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu. This post later went viral on 4chan, where more and more trolls were fascinated by Chandler’s life and his online persona.

More: Chris Chan, an online identity accused by police of incest with her mother, has been trolled online for over a decade.

Chandler who has said diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as a child, she was quickly targeted by internet forums and was often tricked by online trolls posing as potential romantic partners or celebrities offering fake business opportunities.

Chandler’s lawyer told Insider in a statement that she faced mental health issues that affected her judgment when dealing with trolls.

Experts told Insider that an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis could make someone like Chandler more susceptible to violent trolling. They also stated that online violence can cause additional mental health problems.

Chandler’s autism may have affected her relationship with online trolls

Chris Chan on Facebook

In 2016, Chandler defended incest in a Facebook post, stating that she dreamed of having sex with her mother.

Christina Chandler / Facebook


Chandler has said many times that she was diagnosed: “High functioning autism”, which, although not a formal diagnosis, is commonly referred to as Asperger’s syndrome. Autism it is a neurological disorder that affects, among other things, sensory processing, communication, and a person’s ability to socially interact.

A 2013 study published in the journal Autism Spectrum Disorders Research found that autistic people are more “socially vulnerable than others, which puts them at increased risk of victimization and exploitation.”

People are more likely to take advantage of the limited social awareness of autistic people and their pursuit of friendship for fun or other reasons. according to research by Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Center for Autism Research at the University of Cambridge. National Autism Society Study, a British charity, suggests that half of all autistic adults are abused by someone they consider to be their friends.

Dr. Robin Kowalski, professor of psychology at Clemson University, told Insider in an email that “this [certainly] It is possible that people with disabilities, such as Asperger’s, may not initially recognize the behavior as cyberbullying and perceive them as someone trying to make friends, “which could lead to further victimization.

More: Timeline of Chris Chan’s incest accusation following years of online trolling that documented the creator’s relationship with her mother.

Chandler’s lawyer David Heilberg told Insider that Chandler’s “interactions with others” on the Internet were “partly the result of mental health problems,” although it was unclear if he was referring to Chandler’s diagnosis of autism, which is a neurological disorder. (Heilberg did not respond to a request for clarification.)

This interaction with others often seemed to further encourage the troll behavior of the followers.

Dr. Jonathan N. Stea, Registered Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, told Insider in an email that some trolls can “take pleasure or pleasure in being cruel or humiliating towards others,” especially when the victim responds with trolls.

“Like a slot machine, the random reaction to trolling only adds to the motivation to keep going, in part because the goal is the pleasure of trolling,” Stay said.

Transgender Identity May Make Someone More Vulnerable to Online Harassment

Chandler became transgender in 2016. documented on CWCiki, a wiki page dedicated to documenting Chandler’s life, trolls argued that Chandler’s transition was disingenuous, and many continued to use the pronouns he and him when referring to her.

Dr. Brooke Erin Duffy, a communications professor at Cornell University who has conducted research on gender cyberbullying, told Insider that internet haters may have swarmed around Chandler more than other online personalities due to the combination of her transgender identity and her neurological condition. … …

“In this case, we are talking about someone who is both trans and reportedly diagnosed with mental health problems and thus became the target of a broader debate. [about gender and ableism] that circulate in society, “said Duffy.

It is unclear how much of Chandler’s diagnosis of autism may affect the outcome of her case.

Besides her disability, there was issues raised on social media about how Chandler holds onto reality. Prior to her arrest, she often discussed concepts such as alternate realities … “merge dimensions” in doing so, she claims that she “shares” a body with her character “Sonicha”, and also considers herself a goddess and claims to have romantic relationships with fictional characters such as Mewtwo from “Pokemon”.

Heilberg, Chandler’s lawyer, told Insider that he plans to ask a judge for a psychological assessment of Chandler before a potential trial.

Jacob Weinstein, a criminal and civil rights attorney, told Insider that the impact disability can have on decisions in such cases varies from person to person, but he said it is imperative that a mental health expert testifies in court. …

Kowalski, a professor of psychology, added that the level of personal information provided online about Chandler could have further compromised her mental health.

“Regardless of whether people read all messages or not, the mere knowledge that information of this kind is published about them can seriously harm someone’s mental health,” said Kowalski. “No one will be immune from the harmful effects of this level of prolonged bullying in any form.”

Despite her penchant for trolling and the impact it has had on her life, there is no evidence that having a condition like autism increases the likelihood of someone committing a crime.

BUT 2007 Danish Study found that people with Asperger Syndrome were no more likely to commit crimes than the general population. Another studies found similar results

Besides, 2014 American Psychological Association study. found no significant link between the commission of the crime and any mental health disorder.

For more stories like this, check out our Digital Culture Insider team coverage here.


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