We know that largely it is the bad guys who seem to get more press than those who are doing good. The people just going about their daily chores, minding their business, who have made some online connections, share a few photos and stories on social media, who are not on the public radar, are not immune to cyberbullies and trolls. But for anyone who has been in the #trending box or has had any sort of celebrity whatsoever — these are the people who especially seem to attract the worst of the worst. Or you just have to be a female.
This story was recently shared by my media colleague +Alex Ruiz on Facebook:
It doesn’t take much to elicit the ire of a troll. You only have to exist. And for some, if you’re female, you are all that is wrong with the world. I guess these trolls must really hate their mothers.
You don’t have to “feed the troll” to fight back. In fact, even a troll will admit that any response from his or her target will act as rocket fuel. Expect the abuse to lock into higher gear.
When the tweets get to the point that they are libelous or they egg on criminal behavior, what you can do is document every post with their Twitter handle beside it. Keep a detailed file and make two copies: one for you and one for your police report for when the abuse crosses the line from pure hatred to actual threats. Include any of their Twitter buddies who favored, replied, or shared their hateful tweets (with their Twitter handles), then go back and report and block all of their sorry little asses.
If there are too many, find someone to assist you or hire someone to take that task off your hand. The last thing you should do is close your Twitter account. I just want to scream when people do that. It means you let those bastards win. When one troll wins, they all win.
Although police departments are not necessarily equipped with the ability to fight Internet crime, or know what it is, still file a police report when it truly crosses the line to cyberbullying or you feel physically threatened. Having a police file number is a bit like a security blanket. Even if the police don’t pursue the case, that piece of paper validates your experience, if nothing else, for yourself.
It’s also good for you to know that some trolls are being jailed for their behavior. It doesn’t mean they’re sorry, but it does mean the laws are changing to your favor.
Hold your head high and spit in the trolls’ direction. One of the best empowering tools comes from +Jimmy Kimmel Live with his Mean Tweets. There are others, but it is so important not to let a troll draw you into becoming like them.