Call to Action: Don’t Feed the Trolls

Being activist for human rights comes with a cost.  We’ve all opened a response to a post to find vicious, ugly, hateful words.  We’ve been attacked by internet trolls.

“An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.” —Jennifer Golbeck, Ph. D.

So, how do we achieve our activist goals through social media when we have to fight the trolls lurking in the next response?


According to a Huffington Post blog,  if you find any of the following in a reply to one of your posts, someone is probably trolling you!

  • Use of foul or derogatory language and ad hominem attacks
  • Inability to listen to reason
  • Lack of personal pictures on their profile
  • Quickly posting or replying to messages, indicating large amounts of free time with nothing better to do than start fights on the Internet

That doesn’t mean that everyone who refuses to post a personal picture is a troll.  In fact, some activist post memes or images to protect themselves from trolls.  Some of us are retired, and can respond quickly to information.  That doesn’t make us trolls.  Basically, trolls are narcissists.  We are becoming all too familiar with that term, aren’t we.  As we’ve learned from the Big Tweeter, narcissist want our attention!  So, once we’ve identified a troll, how we respond determines if they stick around and make us miserable, or if they go away to troll another group or person.


.  The best advice may be to remember why they troll and…

Don’t take it personally. —Dipti Parmar

There is no foolproof way to prevent a troll from attacking us, but there are ways to shut them down.


We humans are hardwired to fight or flight.  In this case, flight may be best. Don’t argue with them!   Trying intelligent reasoning won’t work.  They don’t want to debate the issue; they simple want to distract you and gain your attention.  The absolute worst thing you can do is to respond with negative vitriol of your own.  That is exactly what they want you to do!


Unfortunately, sometimes rule #1 spurs the troll to further action.  When trolls are so frustrated that you didn’t respond, they can sometimes escalate the attacks.  If this happens, and you feel compelled to respond, kill them with kindness, wit, and humor.  Thank them for their insight (go high when they go low).   Ask them for the source of their information so that you can check it out (there usually is no credible source).  Thank them for their agreement with you (even though they didn’t agree).  Say something positive or silly, such as “Oh, you are so cute.  Thanks for making me smile.”  (Trolls are looking for a negative response).  Sometimes, these methods cause them to fade away to troll another day.


If the troll gets vicious, makes threats, or continues to troll on Facebook, there are ways to stop them.  If the troll is on a post from you on your own page, you can hide their response.  You can also block the troll so that you can no longer see their responses.  If they are in your Friends list, unfriend them. If one post brought out the troll, delete the post.  Chances are, the people who you wanted to see the post already have seen it, and deleting it deletes all the responses, even those from the troll.  Should they manage to get passed all of these, report them to Facebook in Settings (bottom of the list when you click your own name).


If the troll is posting or replying on a group page, there are a few things moderators/administrators can do to help.  Consider changing an open group to Closed.  If the group is Closed, contact your administrator to see get the troll blocked and/or removed from the group.  Also, ask your administrators to consider changing the group to Secret.  A Closed or Secret group uses settings that all posts require approval.  Unfortunately, approvals are usually not needed for replies to group posts, so kick the troll out of the group if necessary.  An administrator can also report the troll to Facebook.


Finally, consider where you post and what you share.  If you are in a group that is closed or secret, respond and post inside that group and not to the world at large.  To check if you’ve been sharing too freely, click on your own name at the top of the FB page to see what is showing on your personal page. Delete anything that could make you a target unless you are prepared to deal with the trolls.  It will happen. Just remember that you can take action.  Keep calm, and don’t feed the trolls.


Visit SuitUp Nation’s Facebook Group to join in the conversation and become part of the #SUN movement. Make sure to let us know when you’ve taken action! Leave us a comment on our Facebook Page! Tell everyone you’re a bad a** activist who’s standing up for Human Rights all over North America!