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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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Twitter branches out into voice chat – what could go wrong?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We’re learning more about Twitter’s forthcoming audio chat rooms, but what is Twitter learning about moderation?

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Twitter open on a smartphone on table next to a cup of warm brown tea.

Twitter wants you to talk more with more people. Like, actually form words. With your mouth.

In November, the micro-blogging giant announced it’s testing its new Audio Spaces feature, which allows users to create audio-only chat rooms – making it what Wired calls a copycat of the new and buzzy Clubhouse app.

Twitter itself hasn’t released many details, but tech blogger/app-feature detective Jane Manchun Wong has been tweeting some of the deets.

How it works

Here’s what we know about the private beta version, according to Wong: Users create a chat room and can control who is admitted to the group, whether it’s the public, followers, or followees. Group size is currently limited to 10. Members can react with a set set of emojis: “100,” raised hand, fist, peace sign, and waving hand. Spaces conversations are not recorded, but they are transcribed for accessibility. It uses Periscope on the back end.

One thing that’s not clear: The actual name. Twitter’s announcements have been calling it Audio Spaces, but the product’s handle is @TwitterSpaces.

It’s Twitter! What could go wrong?

The big gorilla in the chat room is moderation – as in, how do you keep humans from being terrible on Twitter?

We can all be forgiven for skepticism when it comes to Twitter’s aim to keep Audio Spaces safe(ish). Twitter can be a toxic stew of personal insults and even threats. Interestingly, Twitter is starting its test by inviting users who are often targets: Women and people from marginalized groups. Great idea! Who better to help craft community guidelines?

Requiring platforms to shut down hate speech and violent threats is having a moment, and Clubhouse is already in the controversy mix. Even as invite-only, the app has had some high-profile failures to moderate with threats toward a New York Times reporter and a problem anti-semitic conversation. It seems likely Twitter is paying attention.

Also on the safe(ish) side: The space creator is all powerful and can mute or kick out bad actors. Spaces can also be reported. Then there’s the transcription, which sets Audio Spaces apart from similar apps. Chat transcription was aimed at accessibility but, TechCrunch suggests that might help keep things civil and appropriate if people know their words are being written down. Hmm. Maybe?

Also… Why?

It doesn’t appear that there was a groundswell of demand from users, but Audio Spaces at least is something different from the feature pile-on making the social media big dogs start to look the same, as in Twitter’s also-new Fleets, Instagram’s and Facebook’s Stories, Snapchat’s… Snapchat. (See also Instagram’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, TikTok’s… TikTok.)

Clubhouse does appear to be hugely popular in Silicon Valley – and it has the investment capital to show it – so maybe there’s something to this audio-only chat thing. But we’ve already seen pandemic-fueled Zoom-happy-hour-fatigue, as users have gotten frustrated with too many people talking at the same time. Video chat can give users at least a few more clues about who is talking and who might be about to talk. Audio-only chat seems like it could quickly devolve into a chaotic cacophony.

But, Twitter says, conversation will flow naturally, and it advises users to “be present.”

“Just like in real life, the magic is in the moment,” it says.

It’s beta testers will surely have a lot to say about “magic” and “moderation.”

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Facebook’s latest acquisition dives into backend of social media marketing

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This $1 billion dollar acquisition of a CRM shows Facebook diving into the back end of social media for the first time.

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Woman checking social media on her phone on a balcony overlooking city traffic.

A social media giant is stepping into the Customer Relationship Management Realm.

On November 30, Facebook announced that it had acquired the CRM platform Kustomer for a deal valued at a whopping $1 billion. Founded in 2015, Kustomer boasts to be a customer service focused platform that is made to support high volume transactions. In a statement on the company’s website, Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum believes that the platform’s complementary relationship with Facebook will create a mutually beneficial relationship.

“With our complementary capabilities, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however they need it–via phone, email, text, web chat or messaging.” Birnbaum said, “In particular, we look forward to enhancing the messaging experience which is one of the fastest-growing ways for people and businesses to engage.”

The move may seem unusual at first. In the past, Facebook has opted to purchase customer-facing applications and software, instead of back-end applications. Such purchases include Spanish cloud video gaming company PlayGiga in 2019, and popular gif catalog service Giphy this past May. These applications are often used to build out new features for Facebook’s core platform and users.

Considering Facebook makes around 99% of its revenue through advertising, however, the acquisition makes sense. Through Kustomer, Facebook hopes to provide better support to companies wishing to use the social media conglomerate as a channel for attracting customers. By providing end-to-end support for these businesses, Facebook hopes to drive revenue and become a core channel used to sell products and services.

Only time will tell if the investment in a CRM platform can help drive companies to use Facebook as a primary sales channel. Ultimately, the end goal for Facebook is to increase its advertising revenue, and one could expect the organization to integrate Kustomer with popular existing applications like Instagram and Whatsapp.

The acquisition will have to pass a regulatory review, however, before Kustomer can officially become part of the Facebook family. While that is likely to go off without a hitch, Facebook needs to handle some bigger regulation issues before it can take advantage of its new CRM software.

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This non-judgmental app can help you switch to a plant-based diet

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There are many reasons people choose plant-based diets. If you’re looking to try it out, this app helps you stay on track.

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No Meat Today, a judgement-free plant-based diet tracking app.

The interest in plant-based proteins continues to grow. Healthline suggests that Americans are shifting toward plant-based meat substitutes because of shortages in the grocery store due to the pandemic, but there are many reasons to make the switch.

Plant-based proteins are considered more sustainable than traditional meat. Nutritionally, plant-based meat alternatives are often healthier. Regardless of the reason, if you’re one of the many Americans who are changing your diet, there’s a new app that can help you stay on track without making you feel judged if or when you do eat meat.

Your companion to eating less meat

No Meat Today is an app available in the App Store. You can get on a waitlist in Google Play. It’s a fun app that asks you, “Did you eat meat today?” You can even define what meat means to you, red meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs and/or dairy. As you eat less meat, your “planet” attracts cows. The design is simple, “don’t eat meat, get a cow.” If you eat too much meat, your cows go away. There’s no judgement if you lose a cow.

The creator, Arnaud Joubay says, “I’m not here to tell anyone what they should do, only to offer a friendly app to those who want to do the same.” It’s recommended to look back at your history to decide whether you want to eat meat or not.

Reviews

The app was just released earlier this year. Most of its features are free, but you can pay $4.99 for all the features for one year. There have been some very cute cows released for special days. In the App Store, reviews are positive, but the caveat is that the creator asks you to contact him first if you if your review isn’t 5-stars. It’s a cute app that can motivate you to eat less meat.

Here’s the link to the product page.

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