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Internet trolls

Internet trolls and trolling is one of the most significant issues people find on the Internet today. The phrase 'trolling' or 'trolls' is internet slang for a person or situation where someone intentionally wants to upset and provoke you on the Internet, and they do it for enjoyment and fun.

For example, a troll will write rude and upsetting statements with the intention of hurting you, attempting to make you angry and even simply change the conversation, so it becomes off-topic. Usually, trolling is not targeted at a specific person and generally relies on larger audiences reacting by being either provoked or angered by the comments. The more people pay attention and retaliate to the comments, the more this eggs on the trolling individual.

Where do you see Internet trolling the most?

Social media platforms and online forums are popular places where trolls will attack. Due to the anonymity and ability to become anyone you want on the Internet, the repercussions for posting inflammatory comments are almost non-existent.

What are some signs someone is trolling?

Normally if someone seems uninterested or provocative on purpose and purposely attempting to change the conversation, they are possibly trolling. Some further signs can include

  • Using a condescending tone in their comments

  • Refusing to acknowledge evidence

  • Continuously commenting off-topic

  • Not using correct spelling or grammar

  • Using memes or images which are also non-related to the topic

  • Incomplete profiles on social media

So what do you do if you think you're being trolled?

The more you engage with a troll, the more they will continue to troll you. Internet tolls intentionally seek out any response from you, so, unfortunately, the more you reply or debate, the more this will encourage them. Even if you feel like you have a point to make or your research is correct, the troll will refuse to acknowledge it and continue to be rude. Once you ignore a troll, they will likely get frustrated and move on to somewhere else on the Internet. You can report the comments to websites or social media platforms by using either the report or contact option, resulting in the profile being suspended or permanently banned.

Internet trolls can be invasive in your life and can cause you to distress or make you upset, so make sure to speak to someone you trust and express your feelings.

If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000. If you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


Gorman, G. (2019). Internet trolls are not who I thought – they're even scarier.

March, E., & Marrington, J. (2019). A Qualitative Analysis of Internet Trolling. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, 22(3).

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