In recent years, online trolls have become one of the biggest problems faced by social media platforms. Picture: Unsplash
In recent years, online trolls have become one of the biggest problems faced by social media platforms. Picture: Unsplash

How to protect yourself from online trolls

By Nosipho Nyide Time of article published Nov 28, 2021

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It is almost impossible to avoid online trolls because they are simply everywhere.

Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other popular social networking site, there is a chance that a troll will find their way onto your profile to cause nothing but trouble.

In recent years, online trolls have become one of the biggest problems faced by social media platforms, and even though they try to create safe spaces it is very difficult to keep track of trolls.

A troll is a slang term that describes a person who posts unkind and off-topic messages in an online community, with the intent of provoking readers into responding. Trolls also very manipulative and can cause life-changing problems through their comments and messages.

If you have experienced any kind of cyberbullying, you’ll know how much it can damage your self-esteem and overall mental health.

That is why it is important to be able to protect yourself from online trolls who will try to disturb your peace.

Here are some ways you can fight online trolls:

Ignore them

A good way to deal with trolls is to simply ignore them. Don’t feed the trolls, it is as simple as that.

Like most bullies, trolls love getting a rise out of their victims, it makes them happy to know that they affect you. So silence is a great weapon. By not feeding into their comments you are showing them that they are failing.

Instead of responding to a troll, reach out to your friends and family for support in the off-line world.

Keep your receipts

Whenever someone trolls you, make sure you take a screen shot so that you have a record of the original post.

In some cases a troll will make up false claims about you that you will be forced to respond to, so being able to bring up proof of what was said will protect you if the person tries to edit or delete their post once they realise it could get them into trouble.

The records can also come in handy if things escalate and you need to take the matter further.

Keep things positive

Some people underestimate the power of building a positive digital world but it would go a long way in protecting you from trolls. By being mindful and selective of the people you follow and the content you engage with, you could build a digital space that works for you.

Do not be afraid to get rid of negative vibes as soon as you notice them.

Stand your ground

People on social media have a tendency of accepting behaviours online that they would never put up with off-line. To avoid getting affected by trolls you will need to be able to stand your ground when you see something you do not agree with on your page. Whether it is shaming or behaviour which goes against community guidelines, you need to be assertive.

If you are in charge of a group or discussion forum then you need a list of clear guidelines that includes a “no trolling” policy so that if anyone is suspected of trolling you can refer them back to the policy.

Go off-line

Internet trolls can get under your skin if you let them, and it could really start affecting you badly. That is why it is important to take some time off social media, especially at night because you do not want to spend hours reading harmful comments instead of sleeping.

A good way to avoid falling into the trap is by turning off your notifications at night. You can do this on all smartphones and it means that while you’re in your bedroom trying to relax, you won’t be disturbed by any app notifications. You can even take it a step further and not bring your phone into the bedroom at all.

Different social media platforms have different settings that you can put in place to protect yourself from trolls.

Instagram

On Instagram you can list words or emojis that you consider offensive or inappropriate, and comments featuring those words will be hidden. Plus the Comment Control tool gives you the ability to turn off comments on any post.

Twitter

To avoid trolls on Twitter you can just block a user. You can also report users and if they are found in breach of Twitter’s hateful conduct policy their accounts can be suspended.

Facebook

You can use the “Something’s Wrong” button to block and report users that are trolling you in Messenger.

You can also edit your privacy settings appropriately to control who sees what’s on your profile by visiting the settings menu.

This article first appeared in Sunday Insider, Nov 28, 2021

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