According to the 'Safe Internet' (Drošs internets) organization, it is an example of how it requires very little to trigger online trolls and that people have become particularly intolerant of each other over the past two years. Anger is poured out in internet comments even in seemingly innocuous situations.
The seller of the dog collection, Dainis Melgalvis, placed an advertisement in line with his late mother's wishes, to sell the collection which she had started in 1957, as one lot. The collection contains almost five hundred dogs of different materials, colors and sizes.
According to Dainis, the collection dominated his mother's apartment and his ad asked for 300 euros or a reasonable offer for the lot, including delivery. The response he received was not what he had expected.
"I now understand very well the people who write 'Please, no unnecessary comments' in the first text of an ad. Now I've seen it for myself. Very rarely was there a normal comment," he sighed.
Hateful comments appeared to be mostly made by young girls, in both Latvian and Russian, though it seems likely their identities were bogus – the profiles of the haters and the comments they chose to leave revealed that many of those outraged by the sale of toy dogs were strong supporters of Russia's war in Ukraine.
Maija Katkovska, the head of the Safe Internet said: "As a result of the policies of various governments, these so-called troll factories have been created, which troll the Internet environment." It's pointless to argue with such trolls as interaction and the spread of controversy and confusion are among their chief goals, she said.
Dainis said his experience confirmed this advice: "It's not pleasant, but I just ignored it. I didn't respond to them. I think if I start responding to them again, I'll get even more negativity."
At the same time, Safer Internet explained that support for crimes against humanity and glorification of war do carry criminal responsibility, while personal insults and defamation can see civil cases brought.
In this particular case at tleast, there was a happy ending. A buyer was found for the collection, who will donate it to a child care institution in Kraslava, where it should bring pleasure to around 50 children.