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Don’t fall prey to Internet trolls

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Don’t fall prey to Internet trolls

We’ve all heard the term – Internet trolls. They’re ones showing up on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages.

You know, to get rise out of ya.

These provokers are different from cyberbullies, though.

Cyberbullies use social media to attack an individual, whereas trolls are people seeking to provoke others into emotional diatribes.

In other words, Internet trolls’ sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the Internet over extremely trivial issues.

Trolls can be just as bad as cyberbullies.

For example, following a 2006 accident, in which an eighteen-year old fatally crashed her father’s car into a highway pylon; trolls emailed her grieving family the leaked pictures of her mutilated corpse.

So, what can you do to avoid becoming a victim of Internet trolls? Follow these six steps:

  • Avoid getting into a heated argument.
  • Keep your sense of humor. You may be able to joke them out of their misbehaving.
  • Ignore them. Troll behavior directed at you will usually stop if you don’t add fuel for them to play with.
  • Report the troll to an administrator, or site owner. An administrator, or site owner will know how to deal with the troll and will know whether to ban or kick them out.
  • Ignore them
  • Compliment the troll. Trolls will be thrown off balance if you give them a simple compliment, and may even stop trolling people.

There are also several terms to watch out for when it comes to trolls.

  • Flame war

A flame war results when multiple users engage in provocative responses to an original post — while the original post is usually flamebait, this is not always the case. Flame wars often draw in many users (including those trying to defuse the flame war) and can overshadow regular forum discussion if left unchecked.

  • Griefer

A griefer is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within an online game, using aspects of the game in unintended ways

  • Hit and run posting

Hit-and-run posting refers to a tactic where a poster at an Internet forum enters, makes a post, only to disappear immediately after. The post often consists of a lengthy text making lots of claims that can be, but are not always, on topic. Hit-and-run posting often follow the principle of “throw enough in and some will stick.”

Remember, if you’re ever faced with an Internet troll, the best advice is to ignore rather than engage with a troll. This is sometimes phrased as “Please do not feed the trolls.”

About the author: Ian Skotte is a media specialist for the Be in Charge program. Be in Charge is an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program targeting youth in grades 7-12 in 26 Middle Tennessee counties and receives funding from the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH). 

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