What is an internet troll?
An internet troll is a person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, with the intent of provoking reactions. Trolls often use inflammatory language or harass people to get a reaction. Internet trolling is a form of online harassment that occurs in many different contexts.
While anyone can behave like a troll, trolls are particularly active on social media and in comment sections.
How to identify an internet troll
The first step in dealing with trolls is identifying them. Many trolls try to conceal their true identities by using fake usernames or posting anonymously. However, there are some clues that can help you identify them.
Trolls often make outrageous statements, post inflammatory content, and use excessive profanity. They also tend to pick fights with other commenters and respond to any criticism with personal attacks. In short, they are the poster children for toxic behavior on the internet.
Why trolls do what they do
So, why do trolls do what they do? There are a few different reasons that trolls might engage in this type of behavior. Some trolls may enjoy the reactions they get from other users, while others may be trying to upset people for their own amusement. Some trolls may also be trying to spread hate or discord for political or ideological reasons. And finally, some trolls may simply be looking for a reaction and don’t really care about the consequences of their words.
How to deal with trolls
While their intentions may be to get a rise out of people, trolling can have serious consequences, both online and in the real world. Trolling can cause real-world fights, as well as online issues such as harassment and cyberbullying. In addition to this, it can also damage the community.
As a forum moderator social media user or community message board contributor there are ways to keep the trolling to a minimum:
- Report trolling behavior immediately to the moderator or admin
- Be proactive in marking messages as spam when they appear
- Disarm them with kindness and humor
- Shutdown troll accounts immediately
- Don’t allow trolls with a comment and posting policy
Some sites have even set up special troll-checking tools to alert readers when someone is being a nuisance.
There are many types of people who use the internet, but one of the most disliked types of internet users are trolls. Trolls are people who use the internet to harass and annoy others. While it can be difficult to determine if someone is a troll, there are some telltale signs as mentioned in the infographic that can help you identify them.
Original infographic via community102.com in 2011, content updated in March 2022.