Trolling In The Deep

Mass St. Lawrence KS

Small Trolls Online can cause Big Problems.

Recently, a Facebook user trolled one of our clients. I am an admin for this page, and my role (in this case) is to monitor and help with content when necessary. A Facebook user half way across the country wrote a very negative (and it could be argued libel) review on our local client's Facebook page, accusing this nonprofit of terrible and illegal actions. Problem was, this person was trying to get the attention of an organization of similar in name, but in the state of New York. We are in Kansas.

Our clients took the high road, responding in a comment under the review “We cannot address the issues of another agency that we have no influence over or connection to. Since we believe that you do have good intentions and only want to improve (Organization in NY) for the better, not harm a nonprofit organization in Lawrence, Kansas, we ask that you please reconsider and remove the review from our page. We believe that once you take a moment to contemplate the potential impact of your review on an agency that you have never even had any interaction with, you will realize that it will not benefit anyone and only potentially hurt our agency and (the people we help) to leave this review on a page of an organization that it does not apply to. Thank you, in advance, for understanding and doing the right thing”.

The Facebook reviewer did not do the right thing. She refused to take down the bad review and went further accusing the organization of a cover up. Our client responded in a calm, well thought out, professional manner. Then it went to the personal message stage, which I will not quote in this article. Suffice it to say the volley went on until one of the local people shut it down, saying that it was obvious that there was an impasse and that the conversation would now end. That was 48 hours ago as of this writing, and the conversation has stopped.

I have been witness to many cases of trolling and was made a personal target as well. Online posting, commenting and reviewing can seem benign; but quite the opposite is true. Untruths are harmful, in this case what if a potential donor read that review and assumed that the NY organization was somehow connected with our local people? It could cost our client not only money used to help people in Douglas County, Kansas, but tarnish a spotless reputation as well.

Is your troll looking for answers or an audience?

Let’s say your business gets an unjustified bad review on Yelp, Google, etc. Do you answer? If so, what do you say? Do you address the problem head on? Do you use humor to try and defuse the situation? What if they give you a low ranking and do not comment on the reason?

In my experience, the best way to handle a troll, negative comments or bad reviews is to address the person quickly, and as my client did, address the facts. Do not call that person names, or in any way degrade that poster. As Michelle Obama famously said, “They go low, we go high”. If you don’t have anything nice to say, why say anything at all?

Cheers -