Let’s Talk About Internet Trolls

    An internet troll is a person who stirs up trouble in various online communities. Their main purpose is to just sow discord, cause arguments, and upset people.

    Not all people who state an opinion online you happen to disagree with is a troll. However, there are ways to identify trolls and ‘possibly’ stop them in their tracks. We are going to show you how to respond and deal with dreaded internet trolls.

    First, we would like you to take a moment and read what Psychology Today had to say about internet trolls. Their studies show that online trolls are generally narcissist, sadist, and psychopaths. Australia’s Federation University used an online questionnaire to look closer at a handful of traits psychopathy, sadism, and empathy among those who engage in online trolling. The survey included 415 participants, approximately one-third male and two-thirds female, with a median age of 23 years. They found that a high majority of the tested trolls did not work a job or attend schooling. Having a lot of time on their hands, trolling becomes an obsession. If you have social media, a Youtube channel, or blog, at some point you will become a target of trolling.

    In the past, we have discussed cyber-bullying. This is exactly what most trolls do. For no good reason at all, a troll will use name calling or berate you. They will falsely accuse you of all sorts of nonsense and do anything in their power to get a negative response back. If this is the type of troll you come in contact with, the best thing to do is just block or ban them. Do not engage in any way because this is exactly what they want. If you feel that you must make a response, try killing them with kindness. It doesn’t always work with seasoned trolls but we have used this method successfully plenty of times.

    Humor is another way to side track a troll. Let’s say they comment on your photos “You’re ugly”.  An example of a response could be, “You should see me when I first wake up!” or “Aww you’re too sweet.” When the troll realizes you’re not uptight and ready to fight, they usually go away.

    What if you are dealing with a more serious form of trolling? We tend to join online groups and communities that discuss the topics we are interested in. If you love to bake, you may have joined groups online that share recipes and upload photos of their tasty creations. You may have even gained some online friends who share your interest. Trolls are no different. They tend to team up with and gravitate towards other trolls. This has become a huge problem. Cyber mobs are now a thing in 2019. The purpose of a cyber mob is to gang stalk people they disagree with or are offended by. They usually form hate groups about a person or topic to recruit more trolls who share their views. The ultimate goal is to cyber-harass their target and even gang flag until they have brought down the person or company.

    Now you may be wondering what gang flagging is. This is where a group of trolls report a video, post, or account repeatedly until the platform’s system removes the individual’s content.

    For example, you post a video on Youtube stating your political views. A member of a cyber mob comes across your video and is offended by your content. The troll shares the link of your video with his/her cyber mob. Now you have X amount of trolls reporting your video from their numerous sock accounts until Youtube’s system automatically takes down the video until further review. If interested, you can read here on how Youtube’s flagging program works.

    If the trolls are not successful with getting your account or content removed, they overwhelm your comment section with hate filled rants, accusations, and abuse. For every account you ban, the troll is creating two more to harass you with. If that’s not bad enough, they may even create videos or pages about you.

    What can you do?

    First, check out what the cyber-harassment laws are in your state. Internet laws are updated and changed frequently.

    Keep a record of every account harassing you. Take screenshots of every comment, email, or DM received by the trolls. If you have been gang-flagged, keep the emails from the platform that notified you. In some states your local sheriff’s office has a cyber crime unit. They will create a file for you and open a case. Unfortunately, that is about as much as they can do since most of the time the trolls harassing you do not live in your state. Nevertheless, it is necessary for your local sheriff’s office to have record of your harassment just in case the harassment escalates into your personal life. We have saw cases where online trolls get so caught up in their harassment they take it offline. If that happens, your local police now have more authority within the situation.

    You may even be able to get the FBI to help you.

    Interstate Threats and Extortion: A person who publishes or threatens to publish private photos or videos of another with the intention of forcing the victim to do something he/she would not have done otherwise may be charged with extortion, if the perpetrator communicated with the victim via interstate commerce channels (phones, computers, internet, etc.) (18 U.S.C. 875) To see if your case qualifies for help from FBI, click here.

    Our last bit of advice would be to lawyer up. Cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking, and bullying IS a serious matter. You do have rights. Give your lawyer a copy of the police report and a detailed statement of what you have dealt with. You can be compensated for pain and suffering, extortion, defamation, and slander.

    Your lawyer can contact the platform where the harassment / stalking is taking place and obtain IP addresses along with other information. Some trolls are smart and will use VPNs to hide their IPs.

    You may want to go as far as hiring a cyber investigator to help your lawyer and local police department. Just remember, you do have options! We are here to help!

    Rise and Stand Team

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