Dealing with Trolls a necessary skill for women

by | May 24, 2016

Dealing with Trolls is a 21st century issue

Dealing with trolls is a 21st century hazard. Trolls are the scourge of the internet era.  They start with comments saying “U SUCK!” but can escalate into threats, doxxing (publishing personal details online), swatting (calling in false police reports), or physical stalking.

Men and women are equally likely to be the targets of online harassment, but women are more likely to be the target of severe attacks, whereas men tend to get name-calling and mean comments. [Tweet "Sadly, dealing with trolls is a necessary skill for any woman with an online presence."]

Dealing with Trolls

Protect yourself from Trolls

The best way to protect against trolls is to stop them finding you.  Hide your IP address by using a proxy, so trolls can’t trace your physical location.  Listings websites sell people’s personal information for a few dollars: anyone who knows your name and location can get your exact address, your phone number, your kids’ names and ages.  You can get yourself delisted from these sites by contacting each one individually (see a list here) or using a service like DeleteMe.  This won’t stop the online harassment, but a death threat on your blog is much less scary than one sent to your home.

It’s easy to block a troll on your own website. [Tweet "Trolling on social networks is harder to deal with."]  Sites are usually slow to respond and reluctant to get involved.  You can get something removed if it violates the terms of service - for example, if someone’s threatened violence - but it’s difficult to get something taken down just because you’re being targeted.

Severe trolling

Dealing with TrollsAs powerless as it can make you feel, sometimes the best way of dealing with trolls is to set all your accounts to private and wait until things blow over.  If you need to have an online presence for your job, though, that isn’t an option. Read: How to rebuild a damaged online reputation mid-career It’s common for trolls to bombard a victim’s employer  with threats of a boycott or made-up complaints; for that reason, it’s a good idea to let your boss know if a troll has made threats against you, so they’ll take any incoming complaints with a pinch of salt.  A troll can also damage your professional reputation by flooding Google’s search results with false allegations.

Read: Stolen photos can damage a woman’s career

Consider hiring an online reputation management company to mop up the worst of it.

Document everything.  The police are unlikely to take an interest, but you can usually get his social media accounts blocked if you have evidence.  Most law-enforcement agencies are powerless against trolls, because most regions’ laws are useless.  Trolling is a new problem, and victims are often dismissed with useless advice to just stay off the internet.  Activists still advise reporting any physical threats to the police, just in case things escalate.   Still, it’s cold comfort to know that the police will have an evidence trail to follow after you’ve been murdered.

Get some online help

There are a handful of sites devoted to helping people to deal with trolls, such as Trollbusters  and Block TogetherCrash Override is a non-profit founded by two high-profile victims of online hate campaigns; it offers advice and 24-hour emergency support to people who are targeted by trolls.  In the absence of law enforcement, victims are uniting to protect each other.

Contact 3Plus for help with your online presence and for Personal Branding coaching.

Alice Bell Contributor
"Alice writes online about business, popular science, and women's lifestyle. After a few years working her way around the world, she has settled in the north of England and taken a day job as a maths teacher. Her life's ambition is to earn enough money to start repaying her student debt."

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