What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

If you consider yourself to be pretty active on social media or other types of online communities, you may have experienced what many internet users call “being trolled.” So what is a „troll“ in this sense?

Although many people use the term in contexts where a sense of humor is appreciated, the truth is that Internet trolling can get pretty nasty and isn’t always a laughing matter. The Urban Dictionary has a bunch of definitions under the term “trolling,” but the first one that pops up seems to define it as simply as possible. So, according to the Urban Dictionary’s top rated definition for “trolling”, it can be defined as:

„Being a prick on the Internet“ because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.”

Application of the term troll is subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. Like any pejorative term, it can be used as an ad hominem attack, suggesting a negative motivation.

As noted in an OS News article titled „Why People Troll and How to Stop Them“ (25 January 2012), „The traditional definition of trolling includes intent. That is, trolls purposely disrupt forums. This definition is too narrow. Whether someone intends to disrupt a thread or not, the results are the same if they do.” Others have addressed the same issue, e.g. Claire Hardaker, in her PhD. thesis „Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions“. Popular recognition of the existence (and prevalence) of non-deliberate, „accidental trolls“, has been documented widely, in sources as diverse as Nicole Sullivan’s keynote speech at the 2012 Fluent Conference, titled „Don’t Feed the Trolls“, Gizmodo, online opinions on the subject written by Silicon Valley executives[11] and comics.

Those who aren’t quite as familiar with the Internet slang definition of “troll” or “trolling” might automatically think of the mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore.The mythological troll is known to be an ugly, dirty, angry creature that lives in dark places, like caves or underneath bridges, waiting to snatch up anything that passed by for a quick meal.The internet troll is a modern version of the mythological version. They hide behind their computer screens, and actively go out of their way to cause trouble on the internet.

You can find trolls lurking around almost every corner of the social web. Here are some specific places that are well known to attract trolls.

YouTube video comments: YouTube is notorious for having some of the worst comments of all time. Some people even call it “the trailer park of the internet.” Go and have a look through the comments of any popular video, and you’re bound to find some of the worst comments ever. The more views and comments a video has, the more troll comments it’ll probably have as well.

Blog comments: On some popular blogs and news sites that have comments enabled, you can sometimes find trolls cursing, name-calling and just causing trouble for the heck of it. This is particularly true for blogs that cover controversial topics or for the ones that tend to rack up a lot of comments from people who want to share their opinions with the world.

Forums: Forums are made for discussing topics with like-minded people, but every once in a while, a troll will come in and start spewing negative words all over the place.

And of course Facebook, Twitter and other social networks: Now that almost anyone can comment on a status update, reply to a tweet, converse in a community thread or send an anonymous question, trolling is absolutely everywhere that people can use to interact.

Instagram is especially bad, because it’s a very public platform that people use to post photos of themselves — inviting everyone and anyone to judge their appearances in the comment section.

There are some types of trolls „lurking around the Internet“. I will list some of whom, you can meet down on the Internet.

The insult troll; The persistent debate troll(This type of troll loves a good argument. They can take a great, thoroughly researched and fact-based piece of content, and come at it from all opposing discussion angles to challenge its message), The grammar and spellcheck troll(You know this type of troll. They’re the people who always have to tell other users that they have misspelled words and grammar mistakes. Even when they do it by simply commenting with the corrected word behind an asterisk symbol, it’s pretty much never a welcomed comment to any discussion. Some of them even use a comment’s spelling and grammar mistakes as an excuse to insult them) etc.

Trolling has been explained by a psychological concept called the „online disinhibition effect“. This effect suggests that social barriers to negative behavior are lowered because of the way the internet allows users to remain anonymous and invisible. People are allowed to express themselves more freely than they would in face-to-face encounters and disregard moral responsibilities. For anonymous users, there are no repercussions for bad behavior. They are able to reveal aspects of their personality that are held in check by social etiquette and rules.

Research has found that when anonymity was removed from social media sites, it reduced the amount of trolling, but people wanting to continue antisocial behavior would resort to creating fake profiles.

If a troll tries to provoke you, just ignore them. They’re not worth your time or emotional distress. Try not to take anything personally and remind yourself that their bad behavior does not change who you are.

Remember that a person who seems like a troll is actually the one suffering in some way and is trying to distract themselves and make themselves feel better by taking it out on you. If you can, try to have a good laugh and think about how sad it is that people actually feel the need to insult complete strangers on the Internet

The best way to handle an internet troll is to stop feeding the troll. Ignoring the troll sometimes works. It may become bored and forage for food elsewhere. But, there are times when trolls refuse to leave. If a troll remains on the scene, then it is time to block that individual from commenting. Banning an unwanted troll is like putting out a fire, it is far better to lose one tree than let the fire consume the entire forest.

Lets face it. The internet troll problem is worse than ever. Everywhere. Have you ever wondered why an internet troll does what they do? And do you know the best way to handle the situation when you’re being trolled on the internet? Well, I’m here to help you…

Forewarned is forearmed.

I will touch upon three things:

  1. Identifying their behaviors
  2. Why they troll
  3. What you should do

Behaviors of an Internet Troll

How to identify a real internet troll. It doesn’t take long to figure out that you’ve got a troll in your midst…

An internet troll is someone who posts inflammatory, or off-topic messages with the primary intent of provoking readers, or otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, typically with the sole intent of bashing the subject matter.

Internet trolling is a deliberate attempt to create conflict and distress by communicating inflammatory, proactive, and menacing comments to victims.

Every post that a troll submits is about challenging, tearing down, and ridiculing.

They cannot be reasoned with.

They don’t care about substantive debate except as an excuse for pretending everything that challenges them is wrong.

A troll is a basic Blinky light, seeking to draw attention away from anything relevant.

Why Do Internet Trolls Do It?

Being a blog owner for more than a decade, and having to deal with trolls throughout the time span, this question interested me.

It’s one thing to easily identify a real troll. And then deciding how to handle it (the next section). But why? Why oh why do they do it? It seems like such a waste of time! Trust me… there’s a reason.

The number one reason why internet trolls do their trolling

An internet troll enjoys their behavior. They do it for enjoyment. It just does not serve any other practical purpose.

“How can trolling be enjoyable to them?!” you might ask…

Psychologists have studied this. I spent some time researching this out of my own curiosity. The predominant conclusions are as follows.

An internet troll typically have the following three psychological conditions:

  • Primary Psychopathy
  • Direct (and Vicarious) Sadism
  • Grandiose Narcissism

Primary Psychopathy >> Calloused, Manipulative, Lacking in remorse and effective empathy, and guilt.

Direct Sadism is when someone enjoys directly hurting or humiliating other people.

Vicarious sadism is when the enjoyment is derived from watching other people being hurt or humiliated.

Both types of sadism are positive predictors for internet trolling behaviors.

Grandiose narcissism is characterized in part by overt expressions of feelings of superiority and entitlement. Owing to their grandiosity, they believe that they are somehow above the rest of us, and that they, therefore, are entitled to special treatment.

What You Should Do With An Internet Troll

Don’t get distracted by the clown honking the horn.

This is easier said than done. But the best thing you can do is to ignore – do not respond to – the troll.

Their enjoyment, being associated with their grandiose narcissism, is not fulfilled unless YOU let it be. No interaction, No fun.

Remember, they CANNOT be reasoned with.

They CANNOT be reasoned with.

This is usually very difficult for most people to handle. Why? Because the internet troll is very, very good at getting others to engage in their destructive behavior. They are good at “pushing your buttons”. Because their goal and motivation is to receive pleasure and enjoyment from their behavior. Thus, they’ve learned how…

I myself am guilty of engaging with internet trolls. Way more than I should have over the years. However once you realize that they WANT you to engage into their toxicity in order to get pleasure from it… well, that should help you to stop engaging. Right?

When you see that lure dangling in the water, don’t bite. The troll gets very upset when no one takes the bait.

Best way to deal with them is to destroy their enjoyment by laughing it off or just completely ignoring them. This will really disappoint them cause they didn’t get the reaction they wanted.


The term “troll” is sometimes overused or mischaracterized on the internet. Labeling someone a troll just because there’s some disagreement isn’t always accurate. The term is often used loosely.

HOWEVER, on any given internet site or platform with comments enabled, a behavioral pattern quickly develops for a real troll. Their comments are always disruptive. Always. Or almost always. Re-read what I wrote above. Once you “get it”, then you’ll readily see it when they pop in.

Remember, they get pleasure from their internet trolling interactions. It’s creepy to you and I, but it’s absolutely true.

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Table of Contents

The internet is a place for people to look up information, connect with others, and express their opinions. Internet forums, messaging boards, social networks, and other online communities are the most common places people talk about their opinions, likes, dislikes, and interests. However, some internet users inappropriately use these platforms just to post stupid, irrelevant, and controversial information that attempt to aggravate readers and prompt reaction. These users are known as internet trolls .

What Is An Internet Troll?

The act of trolling online involves a person posting content with the intent of provoking emotional responses in others. They post this content in order to upset people and illicit a response in retaliation. This often leads to a “Flame War”, which occurs when lengthy and aggressive messages are exchanged between users online. This typically takes place in an online chat room or a social media post comment section.

How To Spot An Online Troll

Post Off Topic Content

Trolls are known to post off-topic messages or content that will get a rise out of people. They don’t care if the site, post, or discussion is about another topic, they post the content they like where they believe it will get the most reaction and exposure.

Bad Grammar

All internet trolls are concerned about is posting they’re content, not about checking their grammar. Content posted by them often includes grammatical errors, swear words, words in full caps, and many punctuations.

Won’t Let The Conversation Drop

A troll’s worst nightmare is their conversation thread coming to an end. They will post and say what they can to get a response from other users to keep it going even if it’s stupid or irrelevant.

Don’t Share Anything of Value

The internet is all about providing information that is useful to others. However, trolls don’t care about this fact and share information that is of no value to anyone. They just want to feel the satisfaction of people paying attention to them and their content.

They Use Generic or Anonymous Names

To hide their true identity, trolls often use anonymous or generic handles/names on the websites they use. This is one of the key ways to identify a user is a troll and not an actual contributor.

How To Deal With An Internet Troll

Ignore Them

The more you interact with trolls, the more likely they are to continue the conversation. They want to get the most exposure possible and lure other users into the conversation as well. Don’t feed into their tactics and stop posting.

Provide Facts & Evidence That Proves Them Wrong

On the opposite end of the spectrum, responding to trolls can stop them. If they are taking a specific side of an argument and are clearly wrong, reply back with fact-based evidence that proves they are incorrect.

Contact The Site Owners or Moderators

If the trolling is getting out of hand, contact the site owners or moderators regarding the situation. As administrators, they have the ability to delete the trolls comments, content, and even delete their account. However, it is still possible for them to create another account using a new email address and name.

Talk To Someone

If the trolling is targeting you to the point that it’s abuse or you are fearful, talk to a friend or family member. Tell and show them what has been happening, and listen to their opinion on the situation. Sometimes, an outsider’s opinion can help you make a logical decision.

Don’t let trolls ruin your online experience. Nip them in the bud by dealing with them properly and identifying them right away.

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

Have you ever come across an internet troll before? Chances are you probably have, whether you know it or not.

When you’re online – particularly when you’re on social media – and scroll through all the comments, you may find a couple of annoying or mean remarks.

It’s okay; it comes with the territory when you’re online. If you’re on any social media network or online community, you will come across situations like these.

Don’t worry, though. We’re going to teach you how to deal with trolls. (Scroll to 0:24)

What Is an Internet Troll?

Before trying to handle internet trolls, it is important to understand what trolling is, and who does it.

So what exactly is an internet troll?

Simply put, trolling is Internet slang for writing annoying, sarcastic or offensive things online.

People may type something on a computer or text something on their mobile phones that are completely harmless. However, the majority of trolling that takes place online is what we now consider online harassment. This is particularly when people try to start arguments and fights online in a comments section, online forum, chatroom or a private message.

Internet trolls tend to be people who hide behind a computer screen and actively go out of their way to cause trouble on the Internet. They try to be as disruptive as possible, often for no reason at all, and they attempt to provoke people by trying to say offensive things to make them angry or sad.

Where Are These Internet Trolls?

They are literally everywhere! (This is the reason why people need to know what to do when they come across a troll’s comments online.)

You can find trolls lurking around almost every corner of the web, particularly where comments are allowed.
Here are some specific places that attract a lot of trolls:

1. Social Media Networks:

Certain social media platforms have really bad reputation because of the trolling that happens on their networks. Take Twitter, for example. Recently, Buzzfeed published an article that talks about how people are leaving Twitter because the owners aren’t taking action about the chaos that trolls are creating.

(Twitter responded, but most people weren’t satisfied with their answer.)

YouTube is another example. If you come across a popular video, chances are that you will find a very malicious comment somewhere in the comments section. This, of course, is because they are looking to get attention; the more views a comments a video has, the more likely you are to find a malicious comment by an Internet troll.

None of the other social media platforms are free from internet trolling, either. This includes, but is not limited to, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and many more.

2. Blogs & News Articles:

Several news sites enable people to comment on their articles. This is meant to get feedback and to let people state their opinions about an author’s story or op-ed. Unfortunately, internet trolls take advantage of this and use it to harass innocent people who are simply stating their opinion.

How big of an issue is this? According to The Guardian – one of the most well-known news publishers in the UK – 1.4 million comments were blocked by the website’s moderators as of April 2016; that’s 2 out of every 100 comments posted.

Those are just the ones they found, too. There could be more lurking around on the website.

3. Forums & Chat Rooms:

People tend to go on forums and chat rooms to discuss topics with like-minded people. However, sometimes Internet trolls will run rampant on start spewing hatred towards one person, or perhaps the entire community.

Now that you know what trolls are and where you might find them, it is time to learn some tips for how to handle trolls when you come across one.

1. Don’t Feed the Trolls

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

Trolls are typically people filled with hatred and/or are looking for attention with the goal of getting a response. If you respond to one of their offensive comments, you are playing their game. Even if you really want to respond by just telling them to stop, chances are it will only make things worse if you do.

Don’t stoop to their level and show them that you’re the better person by not responding.

2. Block and Unfollow

If you’re on social media, it’s always best to make sure you don’t see posts from the person again. Disconnect from this person if it continues to happen.

You need to be warned, though: blocking this person doesn’t necessarily mean that the problem is solved. It is quite common for trolls to create another social media account and do the same thing. If this happens, report them. These types of accounts will almost always be banned, as they go against most social media guidelines.

3. Take Screenshots of Trolling Comments

Trolls don’t like their pictures taken. Why? Because they become less anonymous online.

If comments are extremely bad, make sure you save the evidence in case things escalate. Do it as soon as you can, as trolls might delete the comments and claim that they never made such comments.

Once you have proof that someone is trolling you, you have the power to report them to the proper authorities, whether it be a social media administrator or the police.

4. Stay Positive Online

The Internet is a great place to share ideas with everyone worldwide. Rather than talking to negative people online, we need bring people together who take positive action. Surround yourself with people who challenge you in a respectful way, and continue to grow.

(This article was inspired by Common Sense Media.)

Trolling is a form of cyber harassment. Notorious bullies, or trolls, have poisoned everything from Twitter to mailboxes with torrents of verbal abuse, making life hell for politicians, school children, journalists, and anyone else they target for harassment. Let’s take a closer look. What is a troll? How do you spot one? And how do you deal with them so you can breathe freely online?

Sep 04, 2020 · 3 min read

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

What is an internet troll?

Trolls are users who communicate using off-topic, inflammatory messages to enrage individuals or groups and start an online war. Some trolls wander the web alone, looking for a fight to pick, while others storm forums in packs to disrupt conversations and push their agendas.

Where you might find online trolls

Trolls are everywhere, from small chat forums to Twitter and Instagram. They love to cause chaos between groups, inciting hate and posting controversial comments to provoke people and drag them into an argument for argument’s sake. Trolls rarely get angry themselves, and once they’ve successfully aggravated everyone, they disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Here’s where you might encounter a troll:

  • Anonymous online forums: Trolls love anonymous forums like Reddit, 4chan, Twitch, and Quora, as they can post anything they like without anyone tracking them down. While some forums enforce a strict code of conduct, most aren’t moderated regularly, which means that trolls rarely face any repercussions.
  • Twitter: Trolls use Twitter to get attention by disrupting trending conversations. Hijacking trending hashtags and mentioning celebrities are all part of a troll’s plan to infect a thread with poisonous remarks and rants.
  • Comment sections: Places like YouTube, news sites, Facebook, and Instagram all have comment sections ripe for trolls to feed on. Certain comment sections can be full of passionate music fans or those with strong political opinions, which gives trolls the perfect opportunity to drag them into a pointless debate with slurs of hateful or controversial comments.

How to spot a troll

What’s the difference between a troll and someone who genuinely wants to debate a topic? The differences are subtle, but you can always tell by the following signs:

  • Off-topic comments: Disruption is the aim of the game here. A troll deliberately posts irrelevant remarks to annoy and disrupt others.
  • Condescending tone and refusal to acknowledge evidence: This one is a dead giveaway that someone wants to argue just for the sake of it. If you notice provoking comments like “Why are you getting so angry?” or “Calm down”, you know it’s a troll trying to dismiss your argument and annoy you further. Ignoring hard facts is another sign of a troll, since they’re not looking to draw any conclusions from their ‘argument’.
  • Seeming oblivious: Places like YouTube, news sites, Facebook, and Instagram all have comment sections ripe for trolls to feed on. Certain comment sections can be full of passionate music fans or those with strong political opinions, which gives trolls the perfect opportunity to drag them into a pointless debate with slurs of hateful or controversial comments.

Trolling examples

Trolls don’t just prowl comment sections looking to pick a fight — they plant themselves in online dating scams, create fake social media accounts, and have even been known to use sextortion. Let’s take a look at some of the worst-case scenarios of trolling:

  • Social media trolling: Beware of fake social media accounts – there could be a troll crouching behind it. It’s easy to use a fake profile picture, gain a few hundred (possibly fake) followers, and troll innocent people. Trolls will use those accounts to post hateful slurs under other people’s photos or find their way into heated debates to push their own nasty agenda. As with sextortion, social media trolling is heavily targeted at females, although no one is safe.
  • Online dating scams: Trolls create fake accounts just to exploit and take advantage of those hopeless romantics. They have roped hundreds of people into online dating scams, where they ask for nudes and large sums of money while expressing their undying love for their victims. Trolls of this kind are expert at grooming victims, seeking out their vulnerabilities and constantly digging for their backstory or anything else they can later use to manipulate them.
  • Sextortion: Some trolls may try to scam you by threatening to post sexual images of you unless you pay. Some trolls even drag your family and friends into their twisted game. Sextortion trolls usually turn out to be hackers. In a recent sextortion case, the perpetrator tricked scores of women into downloading malware onto their devices, which was then used to steal images and other sensitive information that could be used for blackmailing. Device security is critical!

Internet has become a volatile place these days. On social media, people are getting instantly viral as well as getting trolled like never before. While a few can laugh it off, most of the people fall victim to internet trolling and get into depression. Therefore, you need to be prepared and you should know how to handle online trolling effectively.

Pay No Attention

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

Ignoring is the finest way to put a stop to the internet trolls. As we all know that most of the trolls have no such value. Similar to useless noises, these hoaxes bring no sensible meaning to anyone. So, you should avoid them in the first place.

Learn Lessons

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

You will mostly find the internet trolls are trash. But, if you observe the criticisms thoroughly, you may pass through some life-changing criticism. You may somehow find a way to prove yourself better in that case. However, very few criticisms can actually assist you in your improvised self.

Comment Moderating

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

Every social media platform comes up with a few Comment Moderating tools. Therefore, you can bring an end to all those worthless trolls bothering you. These tools finely detect the spam from the comments and search out fake accounts to ban more activities regarding the trolls.

Build A Homogenous Community

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

Cut off those extra crowds from your list and build your own community with the people who think just like you. So, in this way, you will get the benefit of the interested people. These organic users play a vital role in bringing to a stop to the trolls.

Reply, When It Is Necessary

By presenting proper facts and figures as a reply to the trolls, you can intelligently handle some parts of the trolls from buzzing around you. However, many of the trolls are afraid of being insulted in social media platforms. Even, you can use humorously sharp replies to tackle the situations light-heartedly. Nevertheless, the humorous comments make the situations lighter. On the other hand, you can get praised by the audiences and sometimes from the trolls for your wittiness.

Scrutinize The Cause

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

By simply pointing out the reason behind trolling, you can have a proper grip over the situations. If you find the motives of the trolls, you can smartly put a stop to it. Though, most of the times you will find no concrete reasons to be a target of the troll. They just do it only for fun.

Leave The Internet For a While

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

The first thing you have to only take care of that you should not allow these trolls to affect your mental health. If you find the situation is getting worse day by day, then you need to have some break from the Internet world.

Wherever there’s something posted on the internet, an internet troll is not far behind, posting offensive comments and looking to make people they don’t even know angry. If you’ve seen trolling online and want to know how to deal with them (or get back at ’em), without stooping to their level, Jared Cotter is showing you 4 ways to troll the internet troll.

1. Talk to the Hand, ‘Cause the Eyes Aren’t Reading

The number one way to tell a troll off: don’t say anything at all. According to therapist Tom Kersting, ignoring their lame comments takes away their power.

Their whole intention is to post something mean or offensive to get you to respond to them. Once you do, they’ll keep saying offensive things because they know they have your attention. If you don’t answer them, they’ve got to find someone else to try to bait into their trollhouse.

2. Kindness is the Key

While Kersting doesn’t recommend actually replying to a troll, if you really want to, make sure you stay kind. If one particular comment really offended you and you feel you have to correct a few claims, wait 10 minutes to really collect your thoughts and arguments. If you respond impulsively, you risk showing a little troll behavior yourself and might not come off as your best self.

Plus, you might be surprised to find that, after 10 minutes, you don’t really care about that troll’s comment at all.

3. L-O-L

Trolls whole purpose is to make you mad. But have you actually thought about how ridiculous that is? The internet is a magical place where you can find anything to learn or laugh at, and people are spending the time they have on the internet, trying to make other people angry. That’s the silliest thing in the world. So remember that.

If someone gets on your nerves online, remember how you don’t need to make other people angry to make yourself feel cool.

4. Let Them Eat Cake

Literally! If a particular troll has gotten on your nerves, contact the people at These internet sleuths actually track down your troll and mail them a cake with their lame troll comment frosted on top. Make them eat their words – and in a pretty awesome way.

Have you ever been trolled by someone online? How did you handle it? Share your trolling tips with us on our Facebook page, @TheListShowTV.

What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)Here are some MLM tips for those that may be dealing with social media and online trolls.

IF you are getting people that are attempting to steal your dream…you are typically doing something right, these MLM tips will help.

MLM Tips around the “Trolls”

According to Wikipedia, an “Internet Troll” is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.

In a nutshell, an Internet troll is someone who goes out of their way to be negative about what you believe or the activity you are participating in. Network Marketers have a high likelihood of being “trolled” because of the common societal views of the profession.

It is pretty safe for an internet troll to bash what you are doing and call it a scam, pyramid scheme, etc because there are lots of people that believe that out of their lack of education or ignorance on this profession and what it is all about.

The truth is people aren’t turned off by network marketing, they are turned off by network marketers. So many people come into this business the wrong way and do the wrong things that many attribute the actions of one to be that of all of us.

Sometimes those closest to us are our biggest supporters or our biggest haters. Today I talk about what to do and how to handle those who may be negative toward your goals, your activity and where you are attempting to get yourself and your family, hope it helps!

If this was valuable, feel free to share and comment below!

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What is an internet troll (and how to handle trolls)

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Online trolling is bad for business. An individual posting negative, defamatory or abusive comments about you or your brand can be damaging to your small business venture, sometimes irreversibly.

Take a look at what exactly an internet troll is, why someone might take to trolling a small business, and the damage trolls can cause.

What is an Internet Troll?

An internet troll refers to someone who deliberately writes and posts offensive and provocative content online with the intention of angering, upsetting or damaging the reputation of the subject of the comments.

If you own a business, an internet troll posting negative comments and remarks about you or your business could have an adverse impact on your business’s reputation.

A study published by the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences in 2014, found that around five percent of online users who self-identified as trolls had high scores of personality disorders, such as psychopathy, sadism, narcissism and Machiavellianism.

The very nature of search engine rankings and keywords can make trolling especially damaging to a company. This is due to the fact internet trolls tend to use social media, forums and blog sites to publish their defamatory content. Google ranks such platforms highly and consequently, any trolling content that contains your company’s name is likely to be found when someone does an online search of your business.

One high profile case of an internet troll targeting a business owner, involved UK businessman Daniel Hegglin being the victim of ongoing trolling abuse. Hegglin became aware of the attacks in 2011. He discovered 3,600 websites that contained abusive and untrue material about him.

Instead of following the usual course of action reporting the websites to Google to have them removed from its search results, Hegglin took out an injunction against Google. The businessman appealed to the High Court to ensure the defamatory content did not appear in search results for his name. The case may have since been settled but the damage to Hegglin’s reputation had already been done.

Why Would Somebody Troll a Small Business?

There are many reasons a person may choose to troll a small business. A troll may be a past employee who wants to take out revenge on their former employer. He or she might be a competitor, looking to damage your reputation in order to get ahead in the market.

A troll could be an upset customer or a resentful supplier with qualms over payment or other issues.

Internet trolling of small businesses ranges from customers placing negative reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, to posting unfounded abuse on social media. For small business owners, having negative comments about their businesses on review sites can have the potential to destroy their business.

One survey about bad reviews and online trolling found that 75 percent of business owners admitted online reviews were important or very important to their financial well-being and reputation; one in six claimed unfair negative posts could destroy their business completely.

It pays to be vigilant about mentions of your business online. Report damaging and defamatory website posts to search engines. Report social media abuses to the management of the site where it appears.. You’ll also want to report reviews of your business you believe to be invalid to the review site where they have been posted.