Reputation Management Series: How to Identify Trolls

An Internet Troll

Internet Troll

One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument. (Urban Dictionary)

Trolls are a fact of life in the modern internet. They have become inescapable in social media, forums, and comment sections. Their tendency to make trouble can destroy a brand’s online experience, causing consumers to abandon the company websites or social accounts after encountering too much abuse. Unfortunately, trolls can be hard to distinguish from regular posters with actual concerns. To help you differentiate between the two, here are traits that a typical troll bears:

Trolls are anonymous


Trolls love being anonymous. If forced, they will use fake names, some of which are exceedingly obvious. More subtle ones will try to be as unassuming as possible. Their email addresses will also be a throwaway account. Some can be as easily spotted because they use a disposable email address such as Trashmail or 10minutemail. As part of their quest for anonymity, trolls will hide their actual location as well. They’ll use a proxy server, which acts as the source of the troll, even though he’s in another location.

Trolls attack

Inflammatory Messages

Once able to comment on your website or social media, trolls will make trouble by resorting to profanity, bullying, and other hurtful words that create or heighten tension. They might even flood a page with nonsensical comments to overwhelm other users. This is all geared to get the one thing that trolls really want: attention.

Trolls multiple accounts

Multiple Accounts and IPs

To muddy the waters and create the impression of a genuine concern, a single troll might create more than one account and have them support – or contest – one another to crack the consensus in your followers. To make their manipulation less obvious, the troll might use multiple IP addresses to fake that he is actually different people.

Trolls send SPAM


Repeating messages over and over lowers the quality of discussions among the community. Link spamming is also a form of black hat off-page SEO or constitutes actual fraud if the link is designed to acquire personal information.

Trolls are never completely anonymous. Once you’ve identified them, you can beat them. Subscribe to M2Comms to learn how.