How to Recognize and Tackle an Internet Troll

Troll face

Classic Trollface image from eurobas

The term “Internet troll” may be new to you (it’s totally fine if you envisioned us tackling a brightly-haired plastic doll), but you’ve undoubtedly experienced an Internet troll over the course of your life as an Internet user, and your company probably has, too.

Recognizing a troll

An “Internet troll” refers to someone who purposefully disrupts online conversations with abusive, off-topic or provocative language. There are two types of Internet trolls:

  • Intentional trolls thrive on the anonymity the Internet provides and deliberately aim to ruin online conversations to achieve the desired fallout.
  • Unintentional trolls, as OS News points out, don’t consider themselves trolls; however, by questioning others’ intelligence or by making negative remarks, they unintentionally disrupt threads, turning thoughtful discussions into insult battles.*

They see me trollin’, they hatin’

Once you’ve recognized a troll on your page, what do you do? Many companies have experienced the wrath of a troll, and the outcome can be disrupting and upsetting for all involved. There isn’t a definitive answer to the issue, but best practices dictate you don’t feed the troll. Responding or trying to reason with trolls simply encourages them to escalate the argument.

As your company’s page administrator, you have the ability and authority to monitor posts and remove ones that contain abusive, hateful or inappropriate language, or posts that are spam. It’s also a good idea to post a comment policy or set of rules on your page outlining what is acceptable/not acceptable – so your users are aware of proper page etiquette.

Some businesses, like Amazon, require commenters to fill out certain criteria and personal information in order to post. Removing anonymity and holding commenters accountable is an easy solution to deter Internet trolls. Pages and forums can also be set up so posts have to be approved by administrators before the public can see them.

In the end, no one likes trolls. Your best bet: Don’t feed them.

*Here’s a perfect example of unintentional trolling and how it can disrupt an online conversion, causing it to run rampant (article contains graphic language): Rainbow-Cake Recipe Inspires Comment Apocalypse

Related reading:

Blog Author: Jennifer Haynes, Former B teamer.

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