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Internet trolls: feed them, ignore them, or embrace them?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The web is home to the best trolls in the world, and you’re going to come across them. Here are some proven ways to react.

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Internet trolls: good or bad

In the above video by the Idea Channel, Mike makes the argument for and against internet trolls, which we thought we would address with our own experiences. You’ve heard the phrase, “don’t feed the trolls,” but do they actually serve a purpose? Where does trolling end and harassment begin?

First, we should consider that the idea of anonymity is fading online, so trolling behavior is often associated with a real person and their real name, so some trolls have become quiet over the years, while others have willingly taken on trolling in public under their real names. That said, most people that troll under their names are not sending death threats, rather being argumentative, which should be embraced to avoid the echo chamber. But when someone threatens violence or insults in an effort to bully, harass, or hurt others, the usefulness of their behavior diminishes.

Personally, I have both fed, ignored, and embraced trolls, but it depends on their intentions. Let’s examine:

  • Feeding the trolls: I find myself giving trolls fodder with arguments that are not personal to me. Arguing over the merits of whether Twitter is valuable or not is not personal to me, and I don’t care if someone tells me I’m retarded (their words) for using Twitter. In this instance, I’m openly feeding the trolls and sometimes even provoking for fun. Consider it trolling the trolls. I’m okay with it, and they are too, and it’s kind of fun for all and we let off steam.
  • Ignoring the trolls: I get tagged in a lot of inappropriate stuff on Facebook and sometimes it’s funny, but other times, it is truly harmful to my reputation. Recently, someone posted an extremely racist photo and tagged me in it. I untagged myself and didn’t say anything, because with that particular troll, if I react, they’ll just get worse and start posting racist photos on my wall and so forth. I’ve found that in some instances, ignoring actually does make it go away, because they’re looking for a reaction. If they’re harassing my friends on my wall, I have to react (reprimand, unfollow, block, depending on the severity).
  • Embracing the trolls: you’re going to think I’m weird, but there are a few people I’ve met online through their trolling and I’ve actually become friends with them. Often, it’s political, and by not shutting out their opinion (although dripping with rude sarcasm and condescension), I have learned to see the bigger picture and I have honestly expanded my horizons and my thought patterns by being open to others’ opinions, even if they suck at delivering them.

And then, there is harassment

Trolling is one thing, harassment is another. Harassment can be a continued string of threats, or just one rude comment designed to hurt, but it is never called for, and never acceptable.

I once posted on Facebook a story about the declining number of death penalty cases in America, and I didn’t opine as to whether I thought that was good or not, but someone made an assumption. They began commenting that I was the reason crime in America is on the rise. I disagreed. They commented that I was a bad Republican. I asserted that I’m an Independent voter, and while I tend to be more conservative, I don’t believe in a correlation between taking the death penalty off of the table and increased crime.

So far, so good, right? Civil-ish discourse.

Then, he said that my inability to reason is why God killed our son.

…what?

Because I posted a news story from CNN in 2013 about death penalty cases, I deserved to have a stillborn son in 2004? He could have called me a moron and moved on, but he had to cross the line.

When people behave as such, it doesn’t further any conversation, expand any minds, or help anyone to see a bigger picture, it is only designed to make the troll feel better about themselves through abuse. I’ve never received any death threats, but I have been stalked, I’ve been harassed, and demeaned on a regular basis, and while much of it I ignore, there is literally no use for hurtful insults.

Tell us in the comments about a time that you were the victim of an internet troll who went too far.

Further reading

As Mike mentioned in the video, there is more reading and viewing on this topic:

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tinu

    January 24, 2014 at 1:15 am

    If they are true trolls, it’s highly unlikely that I will feed or embrace them. It’s more of an issue of bandwidth than anything else. Each little hole of unproductive time sucks a piece of my soul and sometimes money I could have earned, with it.

    But when people approach me with a controversial view that they actually want to debate, and not just call names or waste my time, if there’s the possibility that one of us may actually influence the other’s point of view, I engage. I’ve had online conversations with would-be racists, guys who were (mostly) pretending to be sexist to get attention,

    The comment that guy made about why you lost your son – the line he crosses is way in his rear view… that’s way over the line and it’s awful that this happened to you.

  2. Pingback: No worries trolls! Judge rules that a politicians can't ban you on socials - The American Genius

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Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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