IT’S incredible how the anonymity of a keyboard can so easily turn people who you would hope are at least semi-functioning members of society into vile, thoughtless morons all too happy to spout bigotry, ignorance and pointless vitriol.

I’m talking about the phenomenon of trolling, of course – that act which seems to perversely empower some into online bullying campaigns and bilious, reactionary tirades against people who don’t necessarily deserve it.

It emerged this week that Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo has confessed the social media giant had been too lax in dealing with complaints of trolling – and it is costing them dearly. It’s true that many are being driven away from the site after being targeted by trolls, including a few high profile users such as movie scriptwriter Jane Goldman, sick of attacks on her family (she’s married to Jonathan Ross).

It is, if course, long past time something was done. Because a few celebs getting fed up is one thing – vulnerable youngsters who are exposed to this sort of thing is something else.

Something that, in the most extreme cases, has led to abject misery and even suicide thanks to the relentless streams of spineless abuse directed their way.

Taking a few knocks, verbal, emotional, and otherwise, is all part of growing up of course.

But social media allows for such abuse to actually be mobilised against people – it can be organised and relentless in the way extreme forms of bullying are. And simply logging off is a tricky thing for youngsters to do in our increasingly digital age.

My own children are too young to be dealing with any social media at the moment, but I’m not looking forward to the time they do make their way through that online wilderness. There are a bewildering and growing number of dangers to navigate on the internet – trolling is merely one of them.

Even on the BFP website some comments certain posters deem appropriate beggar belief in their insensitivity.

Often they are made in relation to fatal accidents, never mind that grieving family members might be reading them.

We run an unmoderated site, so can only act on comment complaints submitted to us.

Of course, the posters are free to say what they want, within the terms and conditions of our website. But you would hope some of these people could make their points in ways less likely to provoke upset. I’m not sure that counts as self-censorship so much as basic human decency.

It isn’t just social media and online posts this phenomenon relates to. Email can also be the bubbling formula that turns a person from a mild-mannered Dr Jekyll into an obnoxiously ranting Mr Hyde. The upshot of our anonymous, removed online world is that it has given people licence to be appallingly rude to others and then, often, to pat themselves on the back for their sharp choices of words and creative insults (which are rarely very sharp or creative anyway) – often without having to take responsibility for their posts, thanks to their online aliases.

I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with the best traditions of freedom of speech and everything to do with the need to learn consideration for others and be willing to stand by the words they send out into the ether of the internet.