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10 Effective Ways to Deal with Internet Trolls

Trolls may be the internet's bane, but they shouldn't ruin your day. Learn how to get rid of online trolls and keep them from returning.

Trolls have emerged from their caves and onto the internet.

Online trolls, unlike the mythological creatures of early Scandinavian folklore, are real, and dealing with them is never a pleasant experience.

Wikipedia defines an internet troll as:

“…a person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog), with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others’ perception.”

Simply put, an internet troll is someone who enjoys being an insufferable jerk online.

The more people they can cross off their list, the better. Trolls thrive on sarcasm and insults, and they’ve been around since the dawn of the internet.

Unfortunately, today’s trolls have evolved into a far more malicious force of hatred than the original jokesters of the 1990s. Now, 41% of Americans have been subjected to some form of online harassment.

Furthermore, severe encounters such as cyberbullying, physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, and so on have unfortunately become more common.

That is why today’s topic is so important.

In this post, you’ll learn how to tell if you’re dealing with an internet troll and find a list of tips to add to your arsenal so you can deal with the nonsense right away and keep your peace of mind.

Signs That You’re Dealing With an Internet Troll

Some of the telltale signs that you’re dealing with a troll are:

  • Blindness to evidence: Trolls are notorious for ignoring facts and either doubling down on their stance or redirecting to a new topic entirely.
  • Name-calling: Trolls on the internet aren’t known for their inventiveness. They frequently latch on to the most recent trending insult and use it in every situation. “Karen,” hello.
  • Topic redirects: This is an old-school trolling technique that is still used on chat rooms and forums today. Trolls enjoy making off-topic comments in order to divert attention away from the topic at hand. They will also post irrelevant images or memes.
  • Condescending tone: “Why you mad, bro?” says the condescending tone. Trolls enjoy stoking the flames and then acting dismissive when people become enraged, which only adds to the frustration. They are well aware of this.
  • Overexaggerating: While most people use words that aren’t absolute, trolls don’t have a middle ground. Everything must be at the far end of the spectrum. They’ll say “always” or “never” instead of “often” or “sometimes.”

There’s something about the internet’s anonymity that brings out the worst in trolls.

Most of them would be terrified of a direct face-to-face confrontation. However, there are no real consequences to make them think twice about letting their inner nastiness out through the computer screen.

Defeat Internet Trolls Using These 10 Methods

Trolls aren’t picky; they’ll target individuals, businesses, celebrities, politicians, and anyone else they can think of. You’re fair game for a troll if you’re on the internet.

Here’s how to turn them off.

1. Avoid Feeding the Trolls

The old internet adage still holds. Trolls feed off of emotional reactions to their provocation.

It may be difficult to hold back, but don’t add fuel to the fire.

If you don’t respond, the troll will most likely move on.

2. Take charge! Trolls are not permitted.

If you’re in charge of a platform — whether it’s your social media profile, a discussion forum, a blog, or something else — you’ll need a set of clear guidelines, including a “no trolling” policy.

The application of these rules establishes impartiality. If someone is upset because their comment was removed, you can refer them to your policy and cite a violation as the reason for the removal.

Consider how the Library of Congress established clear guidelines in their comment and posting policy:

3. Add Moderators to Your Roster

Simply put, an internet troll is someone who enjoys being a jerk on the internet.

The more people they can eliminate from their list, the better. Trolls thrive on sarcasm and insults and have been around since the internet’s inception.

Unfortunately, today’s trolls have evolved into a far more malicious force of hatred than the original 1990s trolls. Now, 41% of Americans have experienced some form of online harassment.

If you can’t keep up with the troll onslaught on your own, hiring a team of moderators is a wise investment.

They can verify comments and deal with policy violators, allowing you to focus on other tasks.

If you lack the resources or funds to hire moderators, consider some of the tools available on various platforms:

  • The comment moderation plugin for Facebook.
  • YouTube’s comment moderation settings for automated moderation.
  • Twitter’s option for reporting abusive tweets.
  • Instagram’s option for reporting policy violations.
  • WordPress’s moderation tools for comments.
  • Disqus and IntenseDebate, two of the most popular blog tools, are also available.

4. If you can’t ignore the trolls, call them out on their nonsense.

Trolls aren’t interested in civilized, rational debates. Their arguments aren’t logical, and they’re not particularly good debaters.

Maintain your cool and simply request facts and sources to back up their unsubstantiated claims.

They’re unlikely to have any, and they’ll sputter into silence. All they wanted was a heated, passionate debate, which you denied them.

Every time they make a wild claim, politely request evidence.

5. Kill Them Gently

It’s difficult to respond to hatred with kindness. However, because trolls are usually looking for a fight, taking the opposite approach frequently stops them in their tracks.

One particularly heartwarming example was shared on Tumblr’s Funny Side. An argument began with a raged mother accusing someone of “making her child sick” because the adolescent was exploring their gender identity.

Rather than becoming defensive in response to the anger, the user responded with kindness, even complimenting and eventually connecting with the upset mother and answering her questions.

What began with, “My child is sick as a result of you!” “Bless you, if I have any more questions, I can ask you,” he concluded.

Tumblr users expressed gratitude for how the situation was handled:

It’s important to note that this should not be your expected outcome. In this case, the aggressiveness stemmed from fear and confusion, but trolls aren’t going to show up in most other cases.

Still, a little kindness never hurt anyone. You may be able to make a difference in someone’s life.

If anger had been met with more anger, the outcome of this conversation would have been very different.

6. Use Humor to Disarm Them

Trolls, like kindness, aren’t usually equipped to respond to humor. Their goal is to irritate people rather than make them laugh.

Laughter is a troll’s worst enemy.

Wendy’s Twitter is a great place to get ideas on how to fight trolls with humor.

When responding to trolls, the brand has become well-known for its tongue-in-cheek humor.

Wendy’s even invites other brands to be roasted regularly.

However, a humorous approach should be used with caution. It’s all too easy to overstep the mark and offend your audience.

7. Create Social Profiles for Only Your Friends

This solution is fairly straightforward. Keep your posts private if you don’t want random trolls to comment on them.

This will not work if you are a business, influencer, or someone who needs to reach the public, but it is a simple way to protect your profile.

You can make your Twitter account private by going to More > Settings and privacy > Account privacy. Your account > Protected Tweets (you’ll have to enter your password again).

You can also change the tagging options for your photos.

You can update your privacy settings on Facebook by running a privacy checkup. Select Settings & Privacy > Privacy Checkup from the drop-down menu.

Remember that you can make individual posts private, friends, friends with exceptions, specific friends, only you, or customized in terms of visibility.

8. Trolls should be blocked, banned, or reported.

While this option is more time-consuming, it is sometimes necessary if you have a persistent troll.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most other social media platforms allow you to report a post for being abusive, as well as unfollow the person who posted it.

9. Take a breather before responding.

Remember that a troll’s goal is to annoy you and others. Allow them to achieve their goal.

Before you respond, consider the following:

  • Take a long, deep breath.
  • Take a few steps away for a few minutes (minimum).
  • Remind yourself that it’s not personal and that it’s not worth getting upset about.

When you’re calm enough to return and address the problem, try to keep an open mind.

Responding when you’re angry will not result in a peaceful resolution.

10. Maintain Your Professionalism

One of the most serious mistakes you can make is mistaking a disgruntled customer for a troll and responding in an unprofessional manner. Maintain your composure and objectivity.

If someone complains about your company, apologize and try to redirect the conversation to a private channel to resolve the issues away from the public eye.

If someone is nitpicking a typo or other minor error, thank them for pointing it out, fix it, and then stop engaging.

Remember that your comments are public, and the rest of the community is watching, whether you’re responding to a troll or a real customer. Most people are more concerned with how you handled the problem than with what the problem was in the first place.

Trolls are only as large as we allow them to be.

Trolls on the internet thrive on drama.

They win if you stoop to their level.

It’s not a matter of being right or wrong. If you stop engaging the trolls, you’re depriving them of oxygen.

Take the high road and leave the trolls in the dust.

Learn more from Social Media and read Tips for Building an Audience Online.

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