Did you know 25% of online posters have made at least one toxic comment? That means 1 out of every 4 people have been internet trolls at some point. Although social media can be a means of connecting people, there is a much darker side to these online platforms: bullying. Online bullies, better known as trolls, are those that make rude and disrespectful comments or creates arguments to cause trouble online. There are varying levels of what might be considered to be negative comments, but basically it is anything that would be inappropriate based on the topic being discussed. Unfortunately, trolls are everywhere these days and it can be hard to escape them. According to a study done by Disqus that was published by Wired, the largest number of toxic posts in the United States comes from Vermont (with Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina not far behind). Equally surprising, Vermont’s neighbor of New Hampshire actually had the lowest number of toxic posts (honorable mentions were Oklahoma, Wyoming, and West Virginia). When digging even deeper into the habits of these online trolls, it looks like most trolls come out at night, with most negative posts being created around 3AM when almost 11% of all comments are mean-spirited.
Now for those of us that have had the unpleasant experience of an online troll, what can we do to lose them from our social media pages? Here are 10 ways this can be done:
- Dr. Amy Jauman recommends asking yourself if the comment is truly inappropriate or just constructive feedback that is still beneficial to the conversation? If the comment is constructive, consider thanking them for their feedback.
- Identify trolls by checking if the account is a fake or temporary, usually without a profile picture and very few followers, then report them.
- Ignore all comments posted by a troll and do not respond.
- If you do choose to respond, determining the intent of the comments is helpful to craft an appropriate response.
- Be careful with getting involved in a conversation with a troll, as social media is a very public platform and rants can turn into viral sensations.
- Block trolls through shadow banning (where trolls may not know they are being blocked), to prevent them from creating a new account to continue trolling you.
- Completely block the trolls so they cannot comment on your account.
- If you receive a lot of negative comments, re-evaluate your content to ensure there is not something that is provoking all of the negativity (like posting political opinions or making controversial comments).
- Stop reading comments altogether. This should be a last resort since you do not want to miss engaging with your audience; however, if the trolls are ruthless, this may be the best option.
- This option is not recommended at all, but this one does tend to happen out of frustration and anger. Declare war and give the troll a taste of their own medicine with equally inappropriate comments. Please know this could cause your account to get flagged, may alienate your followers, and won’t solve anything. Remember that feeding the trolls only encourages their negative behavior!
Now that you are armed with 10 ways to lose your online trolls, share your favorite suggestions in the comments or add tips that have worked to prevent trolling on your account.
Author: Megan McHugh
Megan works for Delta Air Lines as a specialist in aviation consumer protection regulations, with a previous role assisting the social media team @DeltaAssist. Megan is expected to graduate in April with her M.B.A. focusing on Social Media Management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Viterbo University in her hometown of La Crosse, WI. In the future, she hopes to start her own consulting company to manage social media accounts for small businesses. Megan’s hobbies include traveling, photography, and spending time with her pug, Jet.
*Through our partnership with St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, we meet extremely talented MBA students and social media marketing professionals. One of their assignments in our course is to blog on an area of social media that they found most interesting or learned the most about in their studies. We are proud to highlight some of the best of those submissions here.