Running any form of online presence makes you a target for trolls but running accounts with links to Freemasonry does seem to attract a special kind of crazy. I was recently tweeted a single word “Traitor” from an account I had been following for ages and I wondered what on earth I had done to deserve that slur. Then I thought back to a session I had recently attended at work and realised I was being goaded by a troll. (I work in the IT industry and part of my continuous personal development is regular sessions on social media usage.)
A troll is the Internet name for someone who deliberately says something provocative to get you to have a verbal spat with them. Trolls exist anywhere people gather on the Internet to discuss and have existed in every discussion forum since the earliest days of the Internet. They are the playground bully of the Internet. They make everyone’s life worse and serve only to feed their own ego.
So what does a troll look like?
Well they try to look normal for most of the time and you will find that some will set up accounts specifically for the purpose of trolling. Others are described as parody accounts. One of the nastiest of these is @SavileLodge which purports to be a Lodge of Freemasons built around the disgraced performer Jimmy Saville. It claims to be Lodge number 616, however whilst there was a Lodge registered as number 616 by the United Grand Lodge of England, it was deleted a long time ago. This Twitter account has nothing whatsoever to do with Freemasonry and exists purely to troll.
It suckers people in by retweeting “normal” tweets and then starts spouting its real message. I am not going to repeat it here because it will attract the wrong kind of attention to this site. If you want to see for yourself, simply follow the link above, but be warned you will need a strong stomach.
How do you deal with them?
There are several strategies that you can adopt depending on the platform that you are on. Twitter is one of the most popular platforms for troll activity, so I will concentrate on that here.
- Stay calm and ignore them – trolls are looking for a reaction, they feed off your response so starve them. Internet forums have long had signs on them reminding users “Don’t feed the trolls”
- Mute the account – Twitter allows you to mute the account which means that you no longer see the tweets and the troll does not know that you have silenced them. This works well if you only use one Twitter application, if however you use a number (and I have lost count of how many I use!) then you need to mute an account in every tool you use to see your tweet stream.
- Unfollow – this means that you no longer follow the account and so do not routinely see their tweets, unless they @mention you. An @mention is where an account that you do not follow simply includes your Twitter name in their tweet to get your attention. This means that you can still be trolled even though you do not follow the troll.
- Block – this is part of the ultimate sanction. As a user you can block an account to ensure you never see tweets from that account again. Additionally, if you report it to Twitter as an abusive account, you assist the rest of the community. If they get enough reports about an account or the behaviour contravenes their usage policy, they will close the account.
I have written a follow on article to help you to block rogue Twitter accounts.