I’ve had this topic in my queue for a future blog post for a while. This morning, when I saw Mike McCready’s post, Don’t be a Troll!, I decided today was the day to write about it. For background on Internet trolls, read this.
When I google social media etiquette, I get more than 1.8 million results. So clearly all who use social media can find the acceptable norms for communication with these channels. Why then must we beware of trolls? Why are individuals out there trolling and what can you do about it?
Here’s my own thinking on the why and the what of Internet trolls:
- The why is simple. Some portion of humanity is negative. And, to date myself with an expression we used in high school, some of these negative people have “no home training.” You witness rude behavior every day, right? The Internet just makes it easier for us to see how many of these people are out there. Recognize it. Move on.
- The primary what to do is: Don’t take the bait. Continue to use whatever tools you already have in place as prevention for rude and unacceptable behavior on your own part. Sometimes the best you get is the satisfaction of knowing that the troll received no confirmation that your buttons got pushed. What the troll wants is a reaction, and when you don’t respond, the troll moves on to plenty of others who will.
- Model the high road in your own use of social media. If you’re not certain about how one of your own responses on a social media channel will come across, take Mike’s advice (use a private channel for the comment). Why take the risk of troll-like behavior?
- If you use social media on behalf of your employer, make sure others on your team understand and follow the ground rules when it comes to trolls. More and more organizations share responsibility for managing central communication channels like Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds. Ignoring the troll should be part of the orientation you provide to those who manage these channels. Don’t let it go unsaid that we “don’t respond to trolls.”