Have you ever dealt with internet trolls on social media? Or to use more recent lingo, has your post ever been ratioed? Trolling, dragging, ratio-ing or whatever name it goes by on “Naija Twitter” is more common than we imagine. If you are a person in authority – a political candidate, start-up founder, school or a government agency in Nigeria, then you are more likely to be a victim of trolls on social media.
Trolling is by no means a Nigerian problem. As more and more people turn against authority and find reasons to be triggered by things that were the norm even in the very recent past, authority figures need to be even more careful. But, how should you react to trolling? Is there a way to stop trolls in the Nigerian social media space? In this article, we will share five ways that you can deal with internet trolls. But first, let’s talk about how you can identify trolls
Unmasking Nigerian Internet Trolls
Traditionally, trolls are identified as giant or dwarf-like mythical creatures in Scandinavian mythology. They are typically depicted as having painfully slow wit and ugly looks. Although their existence is disputed in real life, internet trolls are real and they can harm your online brand reputation.
Internet trolls exist to intentionally upset people and elicit emotional outbursts. They disrupt conversations by posting things that are completely off topic to entertain themselves, inflict pain or hurt, and make the object of their attack look clueless or incompetent at their job. They do not care about the rightness or wrongness of their argument; they just want to make people angry. They are the mean high school bullies of the internet.
Nigerian internet trolls are often led by a handle with a large/cult following. Once they comment on a person’s post, it’s often a signal for their ‘minions’ to pile on that account. But, while some trolls are real people, others are faceless. They open several accounts and use them to attack individuals who do not share their views on any topic whatsoever but especially on politics and social issues.
For example, the moment the Nigerian Twitter ban was lifted, several accounts were opened in preparation for the election season. These accounts mostly opened the same month the ban was lifted and were used to derail any conversations that are not going the way of a certain party.
Can you tell an internet troll from a genuine commenter?
Internet trolls may sometimes be difficult to identify. This is because trolls and genuinely outraged commenters often share similar characteristics. for example, genuine events can make people on Nigerian twitter pile on an account that they feel are the villains in a story.
While the person at the receiving end would count this as trolling, the outraged may not. If you run a business on social media, you need to be careful about labelling people as trolls. This is because if you wrongly label people as trolls or ‘haters’ and treat them as such, it might backfire and hurt your business and your reputation. You may be seen as someone who does not accept criticism. This is why it’s important to know how to effectively deal with them.
5 Ways to Deal with Nigerian Internet Trolls
1. The first thing you should realise is that trolls feed on attention. Many trolls have little going for them in real life, so they post mean things to feel important. If you don’t give them recognition, they will be rendered powerless. So, ignore them. Since all they want is a reaction from you, if you do not give them this, they give up trolling you. One piece of advice we give our clients is: If internet trolls are getting to you and you don’t want to respond, stop reading your page and log out of your accounts.
2. Sometimes, though, it may be counterproductive to ignore Nigerian internet trolls, especially when they are spreading rumours, misinformation or malicious lies about your brand. When this happens, you should respond with facts. Also, you can politely ask them to back up their claims with verifiable facts or clarify what they mean by their comments. They most likely won’t be able to give a coherent response. However, when they point out an honest mistake (yes, trolls can catch an actual mistake once in a while) instead of pointing fingers or trying to make excuses, admit to the mistake and talk about how you intend to fix it.
3. Do not delete or hide their posts. It gives them a sense of importance because people only hide/delete posts that make them uncomfortable. Once they sense they have got under your skin, they will keep coming back to frustrate you further. Additionally, hiding their post may also give them more visibility. On a platform like Twitter, hidden posts are at the top right-hand corner before other comments and curiosity will make people check them.
4. Block or report them. This should be a last resort and should only be done because they are threatening your brand or going against the platform’s terms and conditions. Using the block feature might give them some power over you because you have reacted to their torments. They may make a screenshot of your action and use it to troll you further. But if they have taken some action that is against the platform’s rules, you have a genuine basis to report them for harassment.
5. Take legal action. Some trolls can go as far as committing libel against you in order to get you to react to them. Something you may choose to do to put paid to their trolling is to institute legal action against them. This goes to show you are serious about your reputation. It also signals to watchers that the trolls are most probably peddling lies.
To Wrap Up…
We have talked about five ways of dealing with Nigerian internet trolls. But whether you choose to ignore them, refute their claims, block or report them or take them to court, it is always best to weigh your circumstances carefully to be sure you are using the best approach. The truth is, it is not easy to deal with internet trolls. For institutions, it often requires creating a strategy for protecting your brand reputation. If you are confused about how to start, why not book a consultation with us today and let us help your brand navigate the volatile social media space.
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