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If you follow me on Facebook (here) you may have seen that recently I was trolled quiet seriously across all my social media pages.
Sadly, as my public profile increases so does my risk of being trolled.
What I have learnt from this recent experience is that with the right tools up your sleeve, the experience can provide some valuable learnings, and unify a community of followers strengthening your brand and your overall commitment to your vision.
Before I dive into my tips on handling trolls – full disclosure! I am not a lawyer.
I do advocate seeking legal counsel if you are being trolled on social media.
Sometimes investigating legal counsel or pressing charges is the best course of action for online bullying and if you feel this you are being bullied then please seek counsel as quickly as possible.
In Australia, cyberbullying (trolling) is an offence and you can press charges.
Deciding to seek legal counsel or press charges is a personal decision and one that should be taken seriously, however, to provide some additional options I am sharing my personal tips for dealing with trolls based on my most recent experience.
If you come across a troll, one course of action is to consider ignoring them.
Trolls are fed by your feedback and your attention. Don’t let them have it!
If you spot a troll comment (and they are easy to spot), take a quick screen grab and leave them be.
Ignoring a troll will hopefully have them moving on quickly once they see they are not getting the attention or feedback they crave.
As hard as this can be, you must try to avoid engaging a troll in an argument.
Ask questions to either check the validity of their claim or their identification, but also know when its time to walk away.
Simply state your facts and move forward from the situation. Leave the ball in their court. This is NOT a situation where it pays to have the last say. Usually, by the second comment, a troll will have revealed themselves and if they have not, state your position and leave it there.
Trolling can escalate quickly if a) they feel they have an audience and b) they have an engaged opponent.
Don’t let them have either and take the high road.
Trolls prefer anonymity. If you are trolled it is highly likely it will be done via a fake social media profile. Hiding behind these aliases a troll can leave their comment with a false sense of security.
The first step to dealing with a troll is to reveal them to your community and followers. Share a screen grab of their message and make sure you include their profile name.
If they change profiles, share a screen grab of that one too.
Soon the troll will feel ostracised and vulnerable as your community and followers show their support and gather around you. Unmasking these cyber bullies will also allow your followers to notify others when the troll makes an appearance on other persons profile drastically narrowing the trolls options to continue the behaviour.
In most instances, a troll will stop once you unmask them to your community.
Trolls rarely stick to the point and will often get sidetracked by unrelated events or information. They can have a tendency to attack multiple profiles simultaneously, all with the hope of gaining attention and causing you stress and pain. One method for handling their negative commentary is to ask for supporting data.
For example, in my most recent experience, the troll claimed to have been a student of mine. A quick data/fact check confirmed that this was not the case. Conscious that they were using an alias I questioned them so that I could further investigate their claim on my end. They were unable to provide any further information.
Trolls don’t use facts. They use drama and emotion. Don’t be afraid to question their claims and ask for relevant data to back up the claim. You may find this deters them or at the very least, buffer yourself from anyone perceiving the comments to be genuine feedback when your follow up questions can also be viewed.
Trolling is a form of cyberbullying. If you spot a troll, report them to the social media provider, eg: Facebook. The provider can then investigate the profile and close it down plus prevent the user from establishing a new profile in some instances.
If your troll is going above and beyond to damage your profile or your brand, then consider seeking legal counsel. Speak to a lawyer and ask what options you have available. The good news is that you do have options.
Trolling is an offence and contrary to what some may say, it IS trackable and therefore it IS possible to press charges.
In most cases, the threat of legal action will see your troll running for the hills. But always check with the police or a lawyer before going down this road and make sure your record all comments and responses should it ever end up in court.
Trolling can be stressful if not handled correctly, and in some instances, can cause unnecessary damage to a brand or profile in the media.
A troll is either bored or seeking attention so in most instances, ignoring them will prevent the situation from escalating.
In my recent personal experience, however, this was not the case and I sought legal counsel and have taken the necessary steps to prevent the troll from continuing.
If you spot a troll. Report their profile and block them. If the trolling continues, utilise my tips above and if they do not desist, consider seeking legal advice.
Trolling or online bullying of any form is not okay and in sharing these tips my hope is that we all become more aware and continue to unmask the offenders preventing them from continuing to harm people in this way.
For more information on cyberbullying and the options you have available, I’ve rounded up some great sites that provide additional steps and contacts:
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