How to respond to internet trolls: advice from 8 PR professionals
From reporting them to admins to ignoring them, here are eight answers to the question, “What are effective ways to respond to internet trolls?”
- Report Them to the Admins of the Respective Platforms
- Hit Back With classy Humor
- Utilizing Moderation Tools
- Treat It As An Opportunity For Discussion
- Call Them Out
- Destroy Them With Empathy
- I Like Playing Their Game – Then Block
- Ignore Them And Deprive Them of the Attention They Crave
Report Them to the Admins of the Respective Platforms
There’s no sense in feeding the trolls, as it only makes them troll even more. Instead, it’s best to respond by reporting them to the appropriate admins of whatever platform you’re on, whether it’s social media or an online forum, or blog. Combat trolling by using the rules and regulations set in place to create safe communities against them. When brought to the attention of administrators, trolls can be easily dealt with via appropriate restrictions to prevent and/or discourage them from any disruptive behavior in the future.
Hit Back With classy Humor
One effective way to respond to trolls online is with humor. While it is unlikely that the troll’s opinion will be swayed, responding with humor can be an effective way to win over the surrounding audience.
By being clever and calm in the face of the trolling, you can show that you are not affected by the troll’s comments and demonstrate your wit and intelligence. This can be an effective way to show the audience that the troll’s comments are not worth taking seriously, and can help to defuse a potentially hostile situation.
A great recent example is Greta Thunberg’s recent takedown of Andrew Tate. When a pizza box in his goading video led authorities to him, Thunberg tweeted back the on-brand burn, “This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.” When you amuse the audience, they are more likely to respect and empathize with you. However, remember to keep your response short and devastating yet classy.
Utilizing Moderation Tools
Inflammatory and offensive comments on the internet are rampant, and dealing with them can be challenging. The use of moderation tools is an effective way of dealing with internet trolls whose aim is to trigger a reaction that will cause harm to you. The online platform provides moderation tools that serve to block or filter out unwanted content from your timeline. These tools are practical since they prevent trolls from interfering with your online activities.
Treat It As An Opportunity For Discussion
You have to take your emotional thinking away when responding to trolls. Your first reaction should rarely be the one you should use to reply. Personally, I see it as an opportunity to show others that are watching how you handle conflict and difficulty. If you are able to respond well to a troll, you are showing others your resilience.
Obviously, you do not have to put up with trolls and if they are being consistent after you have replied, you can just delete their comments, but showing people all the positives and negatives you face can be a real representation of you and your business. When replying, you need to show that you understand why they might have made the comment they have, but give them the alternative viewpoint. It’s an opportunity for discussion, not an argument.
Ashlea Harwood, HR & Office Manager, Darwen Electrical Services Ltd
Call Them Out
Trolls are not interested in sensible, polite discussion. They aren’t good debaters, and their arguments are not usually reasonable. Maintain your composure and ask them for evidence and references to support their unsupported allegations. They’ll probably splutter into silence without having any. You refused to give them the spirited discussion they genuinely desired. When they make an outrageous claim, politely ask for additional evidence in response.
Destroy Them With Empathy
It’s challenging to respond kindly to hatred. Trolls, however, are frequently looking for a confrontation, so responding in the opposite way often stops them in their tracks.
On the Funny Side of Tumblr, an especially inspiring example was offered. The conversation began with an irate mother accusing someone of “making her child sick” by encouraging a child to explore their gender identity. Instead of responding angrily by becoming defensive, the user responded with kindness, even offering compliments, and eventually connected with the unhappy mother and provided her with the information she needed.
I Like Playing Their Game – Then Block
Once you’ve decided how to look at things, you must determine what to do with them. Reporting, banning, or removing is the greatest option since it prevents them from connecting with you. You might even utilize them for entertainment until you become tired of them. It’s not the noblest thing to do, but they’re not courteous either. I must admit that I like playing with trolls and other uneducated and angry individuals. It’s almost like a game. It’s a bit childish, but it’s a lot of fun! When they become enraged, I win. I get a significant bonus when they become highly offensive and personal. And when they start repeating themselves and boring me, I block them and report all of their hostile remarks, including those they sent to others.
Ignore Them And Deprive Them of the Attention They Crave
An effective way to respond to internet trolls is to ignore them. Ignoring the troll’s comments or messages deprives them of the attention they crave, and can effectively deprive them of their power.
Additionally, avoiding responding or engaging with a troll will also reduce the likelihood that their messages spread further throughout the internet, as it may lead to other people engaging with the troll and amplifying their message.
Ignoring trolls is by far one of the best approaches to tackling them, as it often helps to de-escalate a situation, rather than fueling further arguments or trolling behavior.
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