Toolkit: Promoting and Raising Awareness on Refugee Rights

Security - Dealing with trolls, identifying a troll 

Trolls are people who use social media to provoke people and disrupt discussions. A troll’s interventions and comments are usually aggressive and often full of angry or hateful rhetoric. However, it is important to distinguish trolling from making a negative comment. Although some negative comments may come off as aggressive, an angry commenter will respond well to a smart and respectful answer. The negative commenter will be open to a solution; on the other hand, the troll is only interested in increasing conflict, rather than looking to resolve it.

5 effective ways to deal with trolls and/or negative comments

The challenge is not to let this user pollute your social media platforms and discourage your audience from engaging with each other and with your content:

  1. Do not feed the troll. Simply put: avoid interacting with them. Internet and social media users are accustomed to seeing trolls proliferate. If the troll has not generated any reactions from your audience, it’s best to not engage with them. Depending on the tone, the comment can be hidden when you manage a Facebook page. On Twitter you can block the troll. On Instagram you cannot delete their comments.
  2. Ban the troll: Block them when appropriate. If you find yourself harassed by particularly tenacious trolls, you can block them. Of course, you should not block anyone who disagrees with you. But, if an individual continually trolls your posts or community, feel free to block them from accessing your page and report them to the social network. The troll may recreate a profile; you can simply block and report them again. Eventually, they will turn away from your page.
  3. Engage in the discussion: This reaction should be used as a last resort, since reacting could aggravate the situation. The only case that would justify intervention on your part would be the one where the troll manages to embark other members of your community in the conversation. In which case, it is your responsibility to moderate the conversation and de-escalate it as quickly as possible.
  4. Move it offline: Don't get dragged into a public heated exchange. Instead, ask the person to send you a direct message with their concerns or complaints. This allows you to gain more information and continue the conversation in a more constructive way.
  5. Respond with humour: The ability to respond to a troll with finesse and wit often brings down tension that did not need to be.

For more advice, templates and resources on cyber-security click here.