What is an internet troll?
Similar to their fairytale counterparts, internet trolls are nasty pieces of work.
An internet troll is someone who deliberately provokes others online by posting offensive or inflammatory comments, or taunting others. In essence, they’re online bullies who operate under a cloak of anonymity to cajole, threaten and abuse others.
Trolls can be found everywhere online – from community forums, blogs, websites and social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Cybercriminals even mimic trolling by posting controversial content with links that contain malware.
However, it’s worth remembering that not everyone who shares a negative opinion or replies to something you post is a troll, so consider their motivation before taking action.
Read our guide to staying safe on social media
How to deal with internet trolls
1. Don’t respond
Trolls are looking for a reaction. Their aim is to upset and provoke you into making an angry or emotional response.
You can’t prevent a troll from targeting you but you can decide how to react. So, don’t respond – you’ll never win an argument with a troll because they’re not interested in reason or fairness.
If you leave the bait untaken and don't respond, trolls usually give up and go away.
2. Tell someone
If you’re being bullied online or receiving abusive comments, don’t keep it a secret.
Speak to someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend, who can help and support you.
3. Record and save
If someone makes an offensive post, take a screenshot of it or print it so that you can share it later with others if necessary.
Warning: Be careful what you 'like' on Facebook
4. Report trolls
Ask for the website moderator, administrator or owner to intervene if the troll doesn’t stop.
Most websites and social networks have strong anti-abuse policies and, in most cases, trolls are guilty of violating a website’s terms and conditions so will have their accounts terminated.
In extreme cases, such as posting racial abuse or inciting violence, trolls are committing a criminal offence and the police may decide to take action.
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Reporting social media trolls
In social media sites such as Facebook, you can report abusive posts by using the 'Report' link that appears near the content itself.
For example, to report an abusive post on Facebook, click the down arrow at the top-right of the post and select 'I don’t want to see this'. Click 'Why don't you want to see this?' Choose the option that best describes the issue and follow the on-screen instructions.
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Block social media trolls
You don’t have to put up with the antics of trolls. It's OK to block people whose behaviour offends or makes you feel uncomfortable.
Blocking someone on most social media sites is easy. In Twitter, go to the troll’s profile, click the gear icon that says 'More user actions' when you hover over it, then select 'Block' and click 'Block' again to confirm.
In Facebook, you can block a person by clicking the down arrow at the top right of any Facebook page. From the drop down menu click 'How do I stop someone from bothering me?' Enter the name of the person you want to block, select them from the list that appears and click 'Block'.