An Internet Troll is a user who attacks by stirring conflict, hurls bad words and insults at any member of the online community. They find any opportunity of making trouble: making obscene and derogatory off-topic remarks in threads, chats, forums and social networks. Trolls thrives anonymously, anywhere there is social networking activity. They enjoy grabbing attention from retaliating users. They also assume the identity of other users. For trolls, online users are just virtual characters they can degrade without guilt. This makes most of us think that trolls have troubles in their personal lives and find relief in venting-out other people. Other troll activity includes proliferating bad jokes or rumors (like a celebrity is dead or a site closing down). They enjoy making people more emotional on the trouble they stir. When a troll’s account has been blocked, they’ll make another one. There is one reputed Twitter troll who made a total of 300 Twitter accounts after being blocked every time by users. Most of these trolls do not care about good reputation for themselves. All they are after is to stir some intrigue so they gain publicity as trouble-makers in the net.
Common victims of trolls are celebrities, advocates or politicians who had an online presence, like the ones who have a Twitter or Facebook. Since these people are careful about their reputation, they refrain as much as possible from hurling bad remarks to trolls. Another avenue of trolls social networks is the so-called “freedom of expression”. Trolls believed that they have the right to say what they want because this is a free country. This makes the victims either close the networking account or ignore trolls all together.
But bad comments will still appear in search results as other people do a look-up on you. If somebody will do a background check and troll remarks will be found, it will possibly damage your professional credibility in the future.
How to deal with trolls in social networks?
- Do Not FEED the Troll. Keep your cool. Do not retaliate head on to trolls, they will just enjoy it. They will react more to attract attention.
- As much as possible, tell your friends and followers not reply to a troll. Most likely, trolls will stop pestering you if no attention was given to them.
- Block trolls as abusive, mark for spam or flag comments as inappropriate. Normally the site’s support group will look at the troll’s activities to check your claim and do the necessary actions.
- Perennial trolls make new accounts after being blocked. Constantly block them if they pester you. Let your networks know who the trolls are.
- Set your accounts privacy settings to secured mode.
- Report troll accounts assuming your identity to site support, also inform your friends and the followers of the fake account.
- Filter your friend’s list in social networks. Remove those you really do not know or haven’t communicated to in months.
- Use platforms, plugins or apps that can help you protect your account from spam and abusive users. Nice example is Seeismic or TweetDeck.
Maribeth Oliver is a home-based micro-entrepreneur, writer and a mom. She shares her insights about family life, internet marketing and home-based career opportunities.