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    It can be really frustrating if you’re trying to have a discussion online and someone derails it with rude or false comments. Internet trolls try to cause trouble on social media sites and forums by posting offensive messages or spreading disinformation just to make people upset. It can be a challenge figuring out who you can trust online, but there are luckily some things to look out for and ways to avoid trolls!

    1. Trolls avoid using their real names and information online. If the trolls are on social media sites, check if they go by a common first name that’s hard to track, such as John or Joe. They may also use a jokey or anonymous username so you don’t get any idea about who they are. Then, look at their bio or "About Me" page for any identifiable information if it’s available. If you aren’t able to find anything, then they are probably a troll. [1]

      • If you can see an email address, make sure it seems professional or legitimate rather than made-up. For example, they could use a fake email like [email protected] just to troll you even more.
      • A lot of trolls will use images they’ve found of real people as profile pictures to make their pages look more legitimate. They might even use pictures of attractive women to seem believable.
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    1. Find the date when the account joined to see if it was recent. Go to the account’s page and see if there’s a date listed for when it was created. If the account was made within the past month and doesn’t have a lot of followers, it’s possible that they’ve created the profile just so they could troll others. Take any information they say with a grain of salt since it might not be factual. [2]

      • Many trolls have to create new accounts since their old profiles might be blocked or banned from the site they’re posting to.
    1. Trolls often post just to get a rise out of someone. Read through the comments or posts made from the account to see if they’re attacking or degrading other people. Make note of how consistently they use profanity, insults, or insensitive words in their posts. If the comments seem like they’re bullying someone, it’s highly likely they’re a troll. [3]

      • Trolls have "negative social potency" which means they enjoy saying harmful things to other people. This is cyber-bullying.
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    1. Check the validity of what the person wrote and if the claim is possible. Read through the person’s post and stop to reflect on if you think the claim is possible. If they linked to an article or website in their post, go directly to the source to check if it’s fake news . [4] If you’re still questioning the information, do your own research online to see if it’s the truth. If something the person says sounds too good to be true and you can’t find information to back it up, it’s probably misinformation. [5]

      • For example, a troll might post something like, "Once when I ordered from KFC, I found a chicken foot in my meal and they paid me thousands of dollars to not tell anyone."
      • Trolls may sometimes post memes or cute images to make their content seen by more people.
    1. See if the person persistently argues over the same subject. Scroll through all of the posts that the account has made and read through them. Many times, you’ll notice that they keep replying to the same thread or they argue with a lot of different people over a similar topic. Check if anyone else has replied with answers or solutions and if the account still responded negatively. If they continue being contrarian despite being given a clear answer, they’re a troll just looking to make people upset. [6]

      • Trolls try to lure people into discussions just to waste their time.
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    1. Trolls never seem to take a break from commenting on posts. Look through the person’s profile history to see how frequently they’ve posted. Since most trolls are online for most of the day, they usually will write posts and share information multiple times throughout the entire day. If you see they shared a handful of posts within an hour, they could be a troll. If the posts are spaced out by a few hours or days, the account is more likely to be legitimate. [7]

    1. Look in the user’s posts for a lot of basic errors. An error or two shouldn’t throw up red flags right away, but consistent mistakes could be a sign of trolls. Read through the posts and look for misspelled words, missing punctuation, uncapitalized words at the start of sentences, or sentences written in all-caps. If you notice all of their posts seem rushed and don’t use proper grammar, they may be trolling you. [8]

      • For example, something like, "OMG GUYS did u see that THE PRESIDANT doesnt spport healthcare????" has multiple formatting errors and is probably a troll.
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    1. Leave the troll alone so they don’t have a chance to engage. Since trolls only post to get reactions from other people, just scroll past the comments or posts without getting involved. Don’t write anything back to them even if you think it’s clever or will make them stop since the troll will only reply again and agitate you more. If you ignore the troll enough and show that you don’t care what they have to say, they may stop posting. [9]

      • If you constantly have trolls responding to you, take a break from social media so they don’t have the opportunity to comment on your posts.
    1. Blocking keeps you from seeing the troll's posts. If the troll is being really annoying or causing trouble, find the "Block" feature on the site you’re using and restrict their account. That way, you won’t be able to see what the troll says and the troll won’t be able to interact with you on the posts. Other people will still be able to see the posts, but at least they won’t bother you anymore. [10]

      • Trolls might try to make a new account to get past you blocking them. If you see a new account making the same kind of comments, block it as well.
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    1. Reach out to administrators if the posts are abusive or offensive. [11] Look for a "Report" button on the account's profile and click on it. If the website asks why you want to report them, select an option that says something like "trolling" or "harassment and cyber-bullying" so the site administrator knows what to look for. If you feel personally threatened, such as if the troll somehow got a hold of your personal information, contact the police as well and let them know about the situation. [12]

      • If the website doesn’t have a report feature, look for a Contact Us page or email address so you can reach out to the site owner and let them know what’s happening to you.

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    • Think twice about posting if it comes across as hurtful so you don’t become a troll. [13]

    • If you're a child, know that you do not need to deal with this alone. Talk about it with your parents or another trusted adult, as they will help you find the resources needed to deal with the troll.


    • Avoid engaging with a troll since it will only make them want to post more to get you more riled up. [14]

    • If you ever feel unsafe because of a troll, report the troll to the website or the police. [15]

    • If you're noticing behavior changes in your child when using electronic devices, it's possible that they're a victim of a troll or a cyberbully. Try to be aware and discuss the situation. [16]


    About This Article

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