Choosing how to respond to an internet troll

Should you ever engage with an internet troll?

Okay, so you have written some thoughts about something that you believe in on an online forum, where you are amongst people that seem to share your views and support your beliefs and then, suddenly, Wham! Some anonymous user has come along and started calling you expletives and wishing you a 'not so nice' day.

The violence of the messages have shocked you; alarmed you and they feel threatening.

They are relentless. More negative comments come flying in.

They are writing abuse directly to you and they have an audience and suddenly, everyone can see all of these horrible messages. It has ignited an emotional response within you and you want to retaliate. It's hard not to.

When the posts are spiralling out of control and you are bombarded by ugly words written by someone that doesn't know you (or do they?), your whole day is clouded by this harassment from an internet troll.

What if you respond? 

Nobody should get away with writing things like that to someone else, right? You may feel much better after retaliating with something equally not so nice or suggestions that they go and seek out a therapist or find a new hobby.

That is all they wanted, though. Internet trolls are looking for acknowledgement. All they wanted was a response from you - negative or positive. They have your attention! What next, though? It may escalate even more out of control and it isn't just your day that has been affected, it is your every waking thoughts as suddenly, their words are even more personal and more threatening  and they are seriously distressing you. What if they are capable of doing what they are threatening? Is it the woman next door or some prankster halfway across the world? Not knowing who it is or what their motives are, is even more stressful.

If you don't engage with an internet troll, eventually and usually, they may get bored and move on to another target. In most occasions that is what happens but sometimes, in our experience, not responding has not been a deterrent for the online troll, whose motives only they know, and they have taken the online harassment to different levels.

So, should you ever engage with an internet troll?

Our Internet Law Experts believe that by not engaging and choosing not to respond but having the offensive posts and web pages removed and then tracking down the internet troll and making them accountable, is an extremely powerful way to respond.

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