Trolling is when a user anonymously abuses or intimidates others online for fun. They purposely post inflammatory statements, not as a way to bully or harass other people, but to watch the reactions. Trolls enjoy seeing people get worked up about what they post. When they are confronted on their behaviour, they often shrug it off and claim it was all in fun.

Trolling and cyberbullying are sometimes used to mean the same thing, but they're actually a little different. Cyberbullies target someone and repeatedly attack them, while trolls set out to annoy whoever they can. Trolls want to provoke a reaction or response and it’s often not a personal attack because they don’t really care who they upset.

How can I protect myself from trolls?

You can protect yourself and others against trolling by:

  • Ignoring the troll. Don't respond to nasty, immature or offensive comments—giving trolls the attention they want only gives them more power.
  • Blocking the troll. Take away their power by blocking them and if they pop up under a different name, block them again.
  • Reporting trolls to website administrators and if they appear again under a different name, report them again.
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If the trolling continues, then the material is deemed cyberbullying. There are a number of ways you can seek assistance in removing the offensive material online.

  1. Contact the social media service in which the trolling is taking place. Under new legislation, social media services are now obliged to take down material believed to be of a cyberbullying nature. Most social media services will have a reporting area on their site.
  2. Report it. If the social media service fails to remove the material, you can make a complaint by reporting it to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.
  3. Talk about it. If a troll upsets you, please talk about it with trusted friends and family and remember, it's not you, it's them.
  4. Protect your friends from trolls. If trolls are upsetting a friend, tell them to ignore, block and report the activity. Tell their family and other trusted friends, and encourage them to seek support.

Chatterbox - Trolling

Parents' guide to online safety

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