There have always been people with a predisposition to preying on others. The schoolyard bully, the jealous friend or ex, the boss hiding feelings of inferiority by putting down his employees, or the numerous cases throughout history of people persecuting, assaulting and harassing those who live outside the status quo.
In the past this abuse has largely occurred physically, with extreme cases of harassment leading to torture and murder. However this physicality has also been a limiting factor for those with a pathological desire to express hatred or violence but may not for fear of face-to-face confrontation or the possibility of physical repercussions. With the advent of the internet however this barrier has largely been removed due to the effects of online anonymity. Perverse individuals seeking revenge or who enjoy inflicting pain on others are given a virtual outlet through which they can express their hatred virtually free of consequence.
This has significant consequences for targeted individuals and groups. Expressions of online rage and hatred can have massive repercussions both psychologically and physically. Individuals have been continuously defamed and their reputations illegitimately ruined, online harassment can lead to intense physical and psychological distress, and human rights are affected as targeted groups such as those based on race, gender or belief are marginalized and driven from society.