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How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?

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How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?

Introduction

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With the advancement of technology leading to cheap smartphones and the internet, everyone slowly owns a smartphone and thus diving deep into social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Quora, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google.

This exploded social media participation led to another psychological pandemic called Social Media Trolling.

Let’s dive into the topic, “How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?” without wasting any time.

Lost Life!

A teenage girl’s profiles on social networking sites reveal the vile messages from internet trolls that friends say pushed her to kill herself.

On Sunday night, Jessica Laney, 16, was found dead at her home in Hudson, Florida, after users on social networking sites branded her ‘fat’, a ‘slut’, and tormented her over her looks and love life.

social media trolling

Messages on the teen’s profile on Ask.fm – where people can post questions anonymously on a user’s page – show the constant abuse that friends claim pushed Jessica over the edge.

One user asks Jessica, ‘Can you kill yourself already?’ while another comments: ‘Nobody even cares about you.’

Her friends are now demanding that the site be taken down, claiming that the bullying led to Jessica’s suicide.

‘My friend Jessica Laney took her life,’ Valeria Canales told ABC.

‘She was constantly bullied and she was pushed to the point where her patience collapsed and couldn’t handle it anymore.

‘Ask.fm is a website where people can ask anonymous questions to anyone they want. It needs to be shut down. And that’s how Jessica was constantly put down and bullied.

‘She was a beautiful girl & everyone loved her. She’s going to be missed. We must put an end to bullying. Please help.’

social media trolling

However, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office officials said neither Jessica’s parents nor boyfriend were aware of any bullying and said no formal complaint had ever been made to the school district.

‘We don’t even know if a crime occurred. It could have been nasty words that were said that led this young girl to take the actions that she did.’

Even the Minister is NOT spared!

New Delhi: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar shared a photo of him watching the Ramayan on television but soon deleted his tweet and posted a new one that showed him working amid mounting criticism.

At 9:41 am, Mr Javadekar, the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, posted a photo of himself watching the Ramayan on DD National. 

 

how to deal with social media trollinghow to deal with social media trollinghow to deal with social media trollinghow to deal with social media trolling

He deleted the post but was faced with an overwhelming stream of criticism stemming from the government’s abrupt announcement of the lockdown that has left millions stranded and triggered panic about access to food and necessities.

But the follow-up tweet by Mr Javadekar, who also happens to oversee the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Ministry for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, also angered many.

To stop the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 disease, the government has banned all activities except essential ones and asked people to stay at home to observe social distancing.

With all public transport stopped, many left without food, shelter, and income have been forced to undertake journeys on foot for hundreds of kilometres.

While the government has announced relief measures, it is yet to reach hundreds of thousands who are worst affected.

What is Trolling on Social Media?

What Is Trolling

Trolling is defined as creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community. 

social media troll purposely says something controversial to get a rise out of other users.

To put it most simply and directly, when a member of the online community purposely tries to attack, disrupt, or offend someone within the community by posting offensive comments, photos, videos, GIFs, or any other form of online content, it is called Social Media Trolling.

Why is it called Trolling? 

The English noun “troll” in the traditional sense of ugly dwarf or giant dates to 1610 and comes from the Old Norse word “troll“, meaning giant or demon. SEMrushThe word evokes the trolls of Scandinavian folklore and children’s tales: antisocial, quarrelsome, and slow-witted creatures which make life difficult for travellers.

Trolling as Social Media Comments

One can find online trolling all over the Internet. 

Such as in the comment section of YouTube videos, Emails, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, blog comment sections, or any other open forums where people can freely express their opinions visible to the whole online community. 

Trolls are the people who deliberately provoke others online by saying inflammatory and offensive things. 

They live to make people upset and angry.

They rant, post-death threats, spew hate speech. They attack an opponent’s character. And say things to appeal to people’s feelings (rather than their intellect).

They’re foes— not friends—of your business. Clearly.

Don’t mix trolls up with angry customers.

The Internet is filled with people stating their opinions, including upset folk wanting to share their negative but sincere beliefs.

We all have experienced trolling in one form or the other on the various groups we might have joined on WhatsApp or Facebook.

Who are these Social Media Trollers?

Wait… to answer this question, we need to answer fifteen relevant questions first:

1. What is the background of these trollers? Qualifications? Social status? Bank balance? God knows!

2. Are they the experts on the issue, on account of which they troll a person? No!

3. Do they understand the context of the situation? No!Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms! 4. Do they know the person they troll? Have they met the victim in person? No!

5. Who is responsible for that situation and the following circumstances? No clue!

6. What will be the impact of their trolling on social media? They are least bothered!

7. What will they gain out of trolling? Nothing!

8. What will the social media communities gain by trolling (or opinions)? Nothing!

9. In case the person being trolled takes an extreme step such as self-injury or, in a severe case, suicide, who will be responsible for the consequences? No idea! (There have been incidents of self-harm and suicide because of trolling in the past.)

social media trolling

10. Is there any procedure laid down to deal with the extreme consequences of trolling? No!

11. Who will be responsible for looking after the victim’s loved ones post the accident? No one!

12. Is there any way that parents of teens can check if their kids are being the victims of online trolling? No!

Before jumping into the million-dollar description of these idiots, we need to understand some other contextual circumstances that help trolls flourish online. 

Most people consider the internet a platform that provides anonymity and uses it to victimise others. 

It’s straightforward to hide your identity on the internet and express your feelings without the fear of being caught. 

Whether celebrities, politicians or regular citizens, online trolls target everyone equally.

How Did Social Media Trolling Rise Exponentially?

Cheaper Smartphones

Most of the Indian population now has smartphones, courtesy of cheaper handsets made available because of the aggressive global competition in the smartphone industry.

Xiaomi has revolutionised the Indian smartphone market by successfully reaching the obscure ends of all our suburbs, towns, and villages. 

One might not even find proper electricity in some places, but smartphones will still be ringing on top volumes in households.

Cheaper Internet

With Reliance Jio penetrating deep into the Indian telecommunications market since mid-2016, causing the rise of cut-throat competition in the telecom sector, any tom, dick, or harry can now get a whole GB of mobile data every day for 84 days for only Rs.300!!! 

Who can compete with that price?

social media trolling

This has directly resulted in anyone and everyone accessing the internet and creating a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

More people, more are their opinions, and most are negative. 

With 1 GB of data every day, a person can troll the entire world every day!

So, with this situation comes the problem of compromised online privacy, and the tricks to protect your online privacy. Online privacy can be very well protected using Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Mobile Addiction

With cheap smartphones and mobile internet services, the life of a human being and all his social engagements have gotten sucked into the smart device in his hands.

As a result of this addiction to smartphones, human beings have invented several ways and means to stay connected on social media 24×7. 

We have collectively crossed all limits of updating online about who is doing what, when, and where.

With increased mobile usage comes the problem of smartphone Security which can be easily tracked by hackers, which has been elaborately covered in a separate article on smartphone security.

Unemployment

social media trolling

With the development of artificial intelligence, automation, and digitization, many jobs previously handled by humans have been taken over by computers, AI, and automated machines.

For Example, Banking

Banks serve as the best example of this. 

A significant chunk of banking activities is now being done on the internet, thus eliminating the requirement of humans to do those various jobs. 

Just by hovering your fingertip now over your mobile screen, you can successfully transfer any amount of money anytime, anywhere, and to whomever!

Cheap (Internet+Smartphones) + Unemployment + Frustration = Social Media Trolls

We should be able to relate now how cheap smartphones and internet services supplemented with unemployment give birth to Social Media Trolls.

Unemployment leads to frustration which seeks to be vented out somewhere. If a person physically tries to harass another person, more prominent in size or more powerful, we don’t need to imagine the consequences.

So, the easiest way to vent out one’s frustration is by logging on to one’s social media accounts using cheap internet services, setting a target, then ready, steady, and shoot! It is immaterial whether one has any clue about anything.

Irresponsible Media

Competition. To survive the cut-throat competition and win the race of providing masala news 24×7, the reference point of news reporting has changed entirely nowadays. 

Instead of running around for actual news, reporters have developed a favourite strategy to sit with a laptop or a smartphone, connect to very high-speed internet, and search for such online trolling happening around.

Insensitive Feeds. Suppose they find even one such incident that might be spicy enough for their equally cold viewers. In that case, they turn it into a national headline without ever thinking about the victim’s plight or consequences. 

More than actual news worth the nation’s attention, media houses prefer to report ‘Who is trolling whom!’ This is very much observable in the case of Bollywood celebrities and politicians.

social media trolling

News Churning. No one is bothered about whether the reported troll is even worth reporting!

News factories need to keep running, no matter if the news being produced is good or trash; there is just no mercy at all. What could be the impact of giving such attention to a troll?

No one is bothered to find out!

Politics. During the Lok Sabha Elections of 2014, online trolling increased to a whole new level. Social media had successfully derived one equation.

Rahul Gandhi = Pappu. Now whether this equation is right or wrong, only God knows!

Fake Social Projection

Image Filtering. With the many image-filter options available on social media platforms, one can apply just any number of changes to their pictures, posts, videos, etc.

Many a time, the absence (or even presence) of these filters over the pictures of a person can become a reliable source of entertainment for a troll.social media trolling

Cut, Copy, and Paste. With the option of customized posts and pics freely available on the internet, we all feel incredibly comfortable in copy-pasting already popular images and opinions on our social media accounts to gain likes, projecting as if we also feel the same way. 

But do we practice living the same way as we project on our social media accounts? 

The answer is no. 

Now, if someone posts a true opinion about an issue, then such a soul finds himself flowing against the social media current, hence, inviting the trolling to start!

How to Identify Trolls?

They often can’t spell

Trolls seem to suck at spelling and grammar. They…

  • Spell words wrong
  • Use words wrong
  • Don’t capitalize the first words of sentences
  • Avoid commas and periods
  • Mix up words that sound the same, but mean something different
  • Say “I” a lot
  • Same for “!!!” marks
  • Type in all caps
  • Use made up and goofy words throughout a nonsensical sentence

Cornell and Stanford’s researchers did a study of anti-social behaviour online.

They’ll try to make you angry. Trolls exist for the sole purpose of upsetting people.

Got someone on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat stirring up trouble? By starting arguments or posting inflammatory content?

They’re (probably) a troll, especially if they appear to be insincere in their comments, posts, or statements.

They exaggerate—a lot.

They use strong words like “never” and “every.”

Where most others would say “infrequently” and “some.”

Using extremes and superlatives are ways to inflame people.

And a good sign you have a troll to deal with.

They act entitled. Many trolls have an inflated sense of worth. They operate as if the world revolves around them (or should).

“Me, me, me… great, great, great. And all you others suck.” Or something like that.

If you get this sense, you’re probably infected with a detested troll.

They make it personal. Discussions, debates, arguments—all safe games for healthy talks among your online users.

Until it gets personal.

This is what trolls do.

Trolls attack an opponent’s character rather than discuss a matter reasonably and logically. They’ll call people names and say things to appeal to feelings and prejudices rather than intellect.

Trolls fail standard, readability metrics for their writing, including using less positive words and more profanity.

Fine that makes it WAAAY EEZIER to spot this f!@%$%# digital SOCIOpaths!!! yay happy daze!

As you can see, trolls give themselves away pretty quickly.

Great. Now that you’ve confidently identified one… what do you do with them?

Impacts of Social Media Trolling on Society

When a person logs onto their social media account and finds some unwanted comments regarding a picture, post, blog, profile, etc., depending upon the seriousness of the troll, a sudden surge is experienced in the victim’s blood pressure. Panic kicks in. 

The emotional shell of the victim cracks. 

The victim starts creating an invisible defensive cover around him.

A thought process around the ways and means to counter that unwanted comment commences. Why?social media trolling Due to that one unwanted comment that is visible to the whole world and every other troll who is sitting online in whichever part of the globe.

Therefore, the initial stress will slowly convert into a panic attack as the strength of the trolls increases.

This issue is truly relevant in the case of WhatsApp and Facebook groups. 

A little joke at the expense of one member in a group of 200 or more will never be taken in a light mood and may take an ugly turn. 

People have even committed murders over Social Media Trolling.

Now, every troll is different. One cannot predict the level to which any troll can stoop down. 

The last troll becomes the reference point for other trolls to start from

This becomes a basic time pass for every idiot online on any social media platform at that moment.

In the same manner, every victim is also different. One can never predict how a troll can affect a victim’s life. 

Since a victim doesn’t know the exact identity of the troll, the level of panic escalates.

Understanding Cyber Law

We do not have a specific law that directly addresses this growing concern. Still, we do have a few sections in different rules such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Information Technology (Amendment) Act (IT Act) which make trolling a criminal act.

Violation of Privacy 

Suppose any person takes your photograph, makes your videos, records and publishes your private pictures or sends them electronically to anyone without your consent. In that case, you can take legal action against them. 

Any violation of privacy is punishable by a prison term of three years.

Publishing Sexually Offensive Material on the Internet 

Nowadays, we can see large amounts of inappropriate and offensive content on the Internet, which undoubtedly attracts a lot of attention. 

If any person publishes any offensive sexual content on the Internet, they can be jailed for seven years.

Sexual Harassment 

Suppose any person tries to make physical contact or sexual advances with you, demand sexual favours from you, or shows pornography, or makes sexual comments about you. In that case, you can take legal action against them by filing a complaint. 

Posting sexually offensive comments against other people on social media and other platforms also makes a person liable for sexual harassment.

Defamation 

If any person intentionally uses any words, signs, or visible representations or publishes anything only to harm your reputation, they can be punished for defamation. 

Acts such as defaming a woman online, commenting on social media platforms, posting obscene remarks or images or videos are all covered under the offence of defamation.

Criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication 

If a person conceals their identity to threaten another, they can be jailed for two years. 

This is very helpful and effective in dealing with online trolls.

Insulting the Modesty of a Woman

If you are a woman and any personal insults or outrages your modesty, uses any word, makes any sound or gesture, or displays any object which can violate your privacy, then you can sue him. 

Posting sexually offensive comments or pictures or videos on social media or other platforms are also covered under the offence of trolling.

Voyeurism 

If you are a woman and any person watches or captures an image of you when you are engaged in a private act, under circumstances where you would not expect anyone to protect you. If such a person publishes those images, you can take legal action against them. 

Private acts may include a picture of the naked woman or a woman indulging in sexual acts.

Stalking 

If you are a woman and bothered by a man who follows you and contacts or attempts to contact you to make personal relations despite your lack of interest; or keeps an eye on your activities on the Internet or any other form of electronic communication, then you can take action against them by filing a case under the IPC with the help of a lawyer.

Final Point

With cut-throat competition in the tech market of India, it is only natural that smartphones and internet services will grow cheaper still. Automation will lead to more unemployment. 

Therefore, there will be more frustration and a proportional increase in the strength of the army of the trolls!

Soon enough, survival on social media without trolling will become next to impossible.

How to Deal with Social Media Trolling?

After reaching this point in the article, we are sure that the reader should understand the actual scenario behind social media trolling.

social media trolling

Ignore the Trollers

There are some comments that — simply put — don’t merit a response. 

When a comment is so far-fetched that any acknowledgement would only justify its craziness, the best response is none at all.

And when you ignore the comment, it’s a good indicator that your other readers should follow suit.

You have no requirement to invest any emotion or time in thinking about the troll, as made clear in every relevant scenario mentioned above. 

The troll, once ignored, will die its death. Trolls are IRRELEVANT in your life.

Acknowledge the Commenter’s Misunderstanding

Other comments might not have wholly dived off the deep end, but they might be so far off-topic that it’s not worth your time to counter the argument or try to change the person’s mind.

In this scenario, you must stick to the actual topic at hand and point out where the commenter is straying from the basic argument.

Engage in Thoughtful Debate

When someone comments on your article with an argument that can be easily countered, it’s difficult to resist the urge to type a rash response furiously.

Instead, it would help if you approached it like a debate.

Acknowledge the person’s side of the argument, clear up any miscommunications or misstatements, and then present your side of the argument.

Other readers will appreciate the time you took and will be less likely to revert to agreeing with the troll.

Punch Back 

If you are a sensitive person who panics over little trolls, it is strongly recommended that you hit back the troll in whatever way most appropriate. 

Just give a solid punch back. 

Let it get murky. 

Let the remaining trolls also learn the consequences of touching your soft side

If the situation is not contained at once, be prepared for more trolling and things getting out of control phenomenally.

Admit When You’re Wrong

Sometimes, a commenter who appears to be a troll at first glance turns wise.

When someone makes a scathing comment about your opinion and — upon thinking it through — you realize she is right, let her know.

It doesn’t make you look less credible to show that you can think through things and refine your opinion.

Be Realistic 

Don’t project a fake lifestyle on the internet. At the same time, don’t feel afraid or shy in putting across your true self.social media trolling Quit. 

Although we appreciate that this option is better said than done, we have seen many people live a peaceful life with Zero Presence on Social Media

Follow this advice for once and see the 180 degrees turn in your own personal and family life. 

The kids of such people are also generally not addicted to social media and live a happy and peaceful life like no one else.

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