The Best Way to Protect Social Media Posts from Trolls

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Young people are increasingly shutting their ears off from hearing nastiness from strangers online - Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay



Evidence seems to be stacking up to show how today’s teenagers are disengaging from social media engagement rather than be exposed to trolls or cyber bullies.

More people under 20 are leaving Twitter and Facebook, preferring image based sharing sites – Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon on Unsplash

There has been a pandemic of personal abuse between complete strangers, now that anyone can have a voice online as against just the privileged or qualified few that spoke through print media. This Grazia article shows how the fear of sharing online is growing amongst young peopl.

A growing fear of posting publicly online has become known as “visiobibliophobia”, and increasing numbers of people are preferring to exchange pictures instead of words to get their point across without awakening the troll. Year on year, social media engagement is decreasing as this Guardian article explains.

Not anyone could write in papers as that choice was made by their editors – Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

Arguably, the constraints of relying on reading material created by editors, journalists and public spokespeople left us subject to the whims of nefarious agendas and vested interests dictated by the dwindling advertising spend as the Internet emerged, putting more power in the pockets of those who paid to be in the papers. On the other hand, it is only since the dawn of Facebook and Twitter that the public could send messages to celebrities and trolls have broken up the party as this Guardian article shows with the Daisy Ridley example.

Without medical training most of us have to rely heavily on our gut feelings about health – Image by Alterio Felines from Pixabay

This means, like patients depending on their doctors for true information, that members of the public could be misinformed or even manipulated by articles they read, until Facebook came along and became a bottomless magazine that anyone could write for. The following video by John Oliver was featured on the Today Show.

Public sharing for all on the Internet is not always bad, as Monica Lewinski pointed out in her interview with John Oliver recently. She says that put to the general public, there would have been messages of support filtering through, as her experience with the press was clearly uneven handed. Although Bill Clinton did not receive the same enslaught that Monica did from the press, he is also probably most remembered for his part in the White House Intern affair.

Hidden behind their screens, humans seem to consider less the feelings of people they argue with, compared to speaking face to face – Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

With teenagers heading to Instagram and Snapchat, both image-based sharing platforms, those of us posting online can choose to ignore rude, under-informed, inaccurate, ill-perceived or downright bullying comments from strangers or even acquaintances. However, the combination of autofill, algorithms and automation can create their fair share of misunderstandings at times. As these things get discussed or even joked about, such as very amusing Instagram posts about the blackout of 14th March 2019, we learn to adapt.

To protect our right to communicate freely, website managers can use behaviour guidelines in their user agreements to ban trolls – Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

The tech press are beginning to publish articles advising website managers and page admins on how to create user guidelines so that anyone who is abusive can be warned or even removed if they disregard acceptable behavior codes. Disengagement is not ideal for those who now use social media for marketing and reaching their target audiences.Here is an example on Viral Solutions.

In the way that parents in the 70s and 80s tried to tell children that bullies were just unhappy and to ignore them and they will go away, cyber-bullying follows exactly the same pattern of trying to provoke reactions from anyone who will respond to them.

Young people are increasingly shutting their ears off from hearing nastiness from strangers online – Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

Bullying behavior is always about the bully, for them to let off steam, which means it is all about getting a reaction, which means it is never ever personal. To protect ourselves and our social media posts from trolls and shrills, we need to differentiate between constructive criticism, dissent or disagreement to a point – everyone’s point of view is valid – and abusive, bullying or destructive behavior. We must not let the baddies win. This article encourages teenagers to continue to use their voices online and how to avoid trolls.

Simply put, if you do not like the way someone speaks to you, the best way to stop it is to not engage at all. That way they have absolutely nothing to say next. This article provides tips for using Facebook if you experience social anxiety.

Meanwhile there is always humour to use when it all goes down. Our creativity and ability to laugh at situations has not ceased and Buzzfeed shows how people responded to the instagram and Facebook blackout of 14th March 2019.

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Sophie Sweatman
Born in south London and brought up in Surrey I had a very enjoyable social and active childhood and then got sent to boarding school where the only escape was team sports and music. I greatly enjoyed trying to predict number one records. My first published piece was in the school magazine, then after my O’levels I got the plum work experience job on the local paper and after a second attempt at house style, got all the wedding reviews printed that I had written up, plus a few extra pieces. This led me to a job offer at GQ magazine but my “housewife and mother” education was continued and I went to cookery school. I started work writing for a café and booking bands, which led to work experience at Lynne Franks PR, where I learnt to do music listings, putting me in good stead for 10 years of music promotion. I booked bands at the Laurel Tree in Camden in 1997 amongst various other places, some sadly gone. Some curdled mayonnaise later I went to an art college, which was part of the American College in London to do all sorts of art-based subjects and being taught English in American was interesting but they taught Harvard Referencing so well it was no bother and I got a top grade for a 10,000 word dissertation on music law focusing on George Michael’s court case against his record company. After looking for work in non-arty south west London I moved to Crouch End and had a painting exhibition in 1994. After working for the local paper I got into the London College of Communication to do a postgraduate in periodical journalism. This was followed by an industrial placement at the Camden New Journal, where I wrote health columns inspired by What Doctors Don’t Tell You a newsletter started by Lynne McTaggart that still goes today. The Camden New Journal also inspired me to do theatre reviews, which I did each week for the London Newspaper Groups stable of papers from 1998 til 2000. My thirties was spent on self-development, resulting in a good job by 2010, when I started planning a move out of London. With an unconditional place at London College of Communication to do an MA in Broadcast Journalism but instead I moved to Falmouth and did a Professional Writing MA. In Cornwall I write for various publications and work for a record company promoting musicians and local artists. I still read What Doctors Don’t Tell You and research on health, nutrition, ancient humanity, science and various other subjects.