5 tips for dealing with online trolls

An online troll, also known as an online bully, is someone who deliberately tries to provoke or offend other people on social media, gaming platforms and other communities on the internet. They spam comment sections, private messages and chat threads with hurtful insults and other hateful content, usually for the purpose of getting a reaction.

They could be someone you know in real life, but there are a lot of trolls out there who are totally anonymous, hiding behind unidentifiable usernames and profile pictures.

Trolls want to cause trouble and push people’s buttons. They’re total pests. But you don’t have to let them bring you down, nor do you have to stop participating in your favourite online spaces. We’ve compiled a list of our best moves for dealing with trolls.

1. Starve the troll

It’s totally understandable to want to wage a war on trolls with your keyboard, but trolls thrive on others’ anger, frustration and annoyance. Don’t forget, they do this because they want you to react.

This means that the angrier you get, the stronger they become. So, your best bet for ridding the internet of trolls is to starve them of a reaction.

This can be pretty challenging. It helps to remember that trolls don’t actually believe what they’re posting, so you can’t beat them with logic or fact. When you’re being trolled, the best thing to do is to ignore the posts.

Eventually, they’ll probably tire themselves out.

2. Record it

No matter whether it happens once or repeatedly, take a screenshot so that you have a record of the original message.This covers you if the person tries to edit or delete their comment once they realise it could get them in trouble.

These records can also be handy if things escalate and you need to take the matter further.

3. Stand up for yourself

You can ignore trolls and still make a stand against them. Most social media sites have report and block functions in place to stop trolls from bugging you and to keep you feeling safe online.

Read up on what else you can do filter out the trolls from your feed in the safety guidelines for each social media platform:

  • Instagram safety

  • Bullying prevention on TikTok

  • Snapchat’s Privacy and Safety Hub

  • Managing harassment on Twitch

  • Discord’s Safety Centre.

If you’ve exhausted the reporting and blocking options within your social media platform and things are still really bad, you need to make a report to the eSafety Commissioner.

You can do this by filling out this form. Before you make a complaint, you need to:

  • have copies of the cyberbullying material ready to upload (screenshots or photos)

  • report the material to the social media service at least 48 hours before filling out the form

  • gather as much information as possible about where the material is located

  • allow 15–20 minutes to complete the form.

You can expect to hear from the eSafety Commissioner within two business days after filing your report and the person harassing you may face serious consequences.

4. Log off

It can be really overwhelming when trolls are constantly pestering you. While you can’t control other people’s trolling behaviour, you can try to limit the amount of time you spend dealing with it.

Logging off social media can be really difficult, but it’s a good idea if you’re feeling upset.

Don't worry, you don’t have to go completely off the grid. You could try:

  • turning off push notifications

  • logging off from the accounts that are most affected by trolling

  • deleting social media apps from your phone

  • only logging on at certain times, like when you’re at home.

5. Tell someone you trust

It can help to talk to someone if trolls are getting you down. Although it can be really tough opening up about the situation, it can make you feel a lot better.

Choose someone who you trust and who will be able to give you the help you need, such as a friend, family member, counsellor or teacher.

Work out what you want to say beforehand, focussing on how the experience is affecting you and what help you want from them. If they don’t give you the support you’re looking for, try speaking to someone else.

You can find more tips on how to talk to someone you trust here.

While it can feel really upsetting to be targeted by an online troll, you can take control of the situation by taking the necessary steps to report them.

Take some time for self-care and to chat to someone about the situation. Then, when you’re feeling better, hopefully you can get back online and spread some positive vibes.

What can I do now?