Monday, April 22, 2013

Troll Patrol: How to Spot a Troll & Other Cyber Riff-Raff

Sorry for the absence but I'm back and writing about my favorite topic: online reputation management. I've been quite active in a Facebook group that involves the trial of Jodi Arias. It's amazing how many trolls came out of the cyber woodwork with this trial. If you aren't familiar with the case, it's a huge profile murder trial that has been happening since January.

I've monitored social media groups before, but this case has really brought out the worst in people - to the point that people's pictures and identities are being stolen (even more scary, their children's pictures are being stolen). It's really easy to get caught up in the web that these trolls spin, but you really need to stay on your toes with these trolls.
An online troll is defined as: "someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community such as forums, chat room, blog, etc. with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response." 

How To Spot an Internet Troll 

1. They use an alias (especially when they create social media accounts i.e. Facebook) and don't use their real name.

2. They only have a few contacts or friends on their profile or contact list.

3. They don't have any comments or interaction from other people posted on their page/account.

4. They don't have any photographs identifying who they are (or they post a fake photograph or image). Another warning sign: if they post pictures from high school and don't post current photos that could be a warning sign that they aren't who they say they are!

5. If they do have friends on their list, the names sound shady and fake (these could be under the same person - fake or multiple accounts).

6. IF they sound too good to be true, they probably aren't real. Also, if they want you to send money or donate to their cause, website, blog, etc. run in the opposite direction!

7. If they constantly send you spam messages, then yup, it's a TROLL!

8. Trolls use "throw away" email addresses. They use Gmail or Hotmail accounts so they can't be easily traced or they create bogus email addresses that don't even exist. This also applies with fake URLs of websites or blogs that don't exist.

9. Trolls are lazy - they don't want to take the time to fill out profiles or the "About" section. If these sections are left blank, then you probably have a troll on your hands.

and last but NOT least...#10 Trolls will always leave a trail and will eventually be caught. They will slip up with their email addresses, contact information, or use words or phrases that sound "fishy." Sometimes trolls use proxy servers (to hide their IP addresses) but as I mentioned above, trolls are lazy and they will slip up at some point...and that's when you can nab them.

If all else fails and you want to get rid of a troll, the best way to handle a troll is to delete them, block them, and report them to the administrator of the group, or report them to Facebook or Twitter.

For more information about how to avoid and protect yourself from online spammers and scammers, check out my blog series I wrote last year with fellow co-author, Karen Elliott.

Remember to stay safe and play it smart online - please, please protect your identity as it's very easy for these trolls to tap into your personal information. Hackers are sophisticated these days and you can never be too careful. 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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