The internet and social media has brought with it many wonderful things. But one of the worst things it has exposed is what happens when people can hide behind a shield of anonymity. When that happens, things can get ugly.
Internet trolls first emerged on message and discussion boards, before social media ever really took off. But now that it has, they have a bigger and better platform.
They may be annoying at best and harmful at worst, but there are ways of dealing with the trolls. Social media manager at digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab, gives her best advice on defeating the online bad guys.
What is an internet troll?
A troll is someone on social media or the internet who intentionally makes inflammatory, rude, upsetting or offensive comments in order to elicit an emotional response from the receiver. Most trolls direct this kind of hate to people for their own amusement, while some do it to push their own specific agenda.
How to deal with trolls online
- Have a blanket policy
Have a clear blanket policy on dealing with trolls. Whether you’re a small blog or a huge corporation, I recommend that you should institute a firm “no trolling” policy.
By having these guidelines clearly laid out, you are making it clear to everyone visiting your platform that you will not tolerate any behaviour that comes under the umbrella of trolling. Also make it clear to them what will happen if they break these rules – will their comments be deleted? Will they be blocked? Make everything crystal clear and remember, it’s your platform, so you set the rules.
- Everything in moderation
Moderation is the best way to get on top of a troll problem. This is more useful if you are a big corporation with extremely active social media accounts or a massive blog with hundreds, if not thousands, of posts, as there’s no way it can be monitored by one person.
If you can’t afford to employ a team of moderators, or if it’s just you and your blog against the world, there are a number of tools out there on social platforms that you can use to your advantage.
- Facebook’s comment moderation tool can be activated for your page
- YouTube allows you to turn comments on and off, have filters on comments and a moderation tool
- While Twitter doesn’t allow for the same levels of moderation as the above, they do have clear options on reporting abusive behaviour, filtering words you don’t want to see and blocking certain accounts
- If trolls are attacking your blog, WordPress has a moderation tool to give you a helping hand
- Respond with facts
Sometimes trolls don’t hurl abuse your way, they just like to contradict everything you say or stir the point by pointing out some small controversy or issue. Sometimes they even like to spread rumours, false information and outright lies.
If you find this is the case, especially if you’re a blogger or a company, then you can disarm them by simply responding with the truth and facts. Do this and they’ll have nothing else to throw your way.
- Take the funny route
Rather than indignation, a perfect way to throw them off is to throw a little humour their way. Admittedly this can be tricky to do, but it’s an ideal method to employ if you want to stop them in their tracks.
James Blunt has gotten pretty good at taking down his trolls on Twitter with perfectly sassy responses.
- Be kind
Even harder to do than respond with humour. When a troll posts something, they are expecting hate, anger and an argument aimed back at them. What they aren’t expecting is their victim to respond with kindness. It’s almost as if you’ve poured a bucket of water on a flame; it’ll completely disarm them.
- Ignore and block
Let’s face it. Most of the time, trolls are harmless. They’re annoying, but they’re harmless. However there are occasions when some take it too far, and the comments can go quickly from inflammatory to offensive or even dangerous. In this instance, the best approach to take is to ignore them and rise above the fray
If the comments are becoming dangerous or scary, then it’s time to use the good old block button. Don’t forget to report the account, too. Delete, block and report.
Unfortunately, trolls aren’t the kind of people to back down, even when you argue back. If anything that only adds fuel to their fire. The only true way to beat them is to rise above.
Angry reactions are what they want. They thrive off the drama.
Although it may take all of your inner strength, take the high road and ignore them whenever you can. All of the actions we have laid out above will help and maybe, one tweet at a time, we can make the internet a bit of a better place to be.
Do you have tips on dealing with trolls online to share with my readers?