22nd January 2016

Once Upon a Time on the Internet: Traffic, Trolls and Twits


Once upon a time Berners-Lee made the internet, the cloud was born, we all started sharing cat memes and Sandy wrote a ranty blog about rumours, truth and the internet.

All caught up, ace!

By popular demand, we’re back with another ranty opinionated blog about ‘tinterweb and the folk that use it. Specifically, what can you do if someone posts something that’s libellous, that is untrue, rude or dangerous?

As Sandy quoted Agatha Christie, I’m quoting Spiderman – “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” (well cultured me).  With all the privileges a connected world affords us, it also requires ever more consideration and understanding to operate in.

So here’s a few scenarios and guidelines to help along the way:


The Threat


Ok, so this one’s the easiest. If someone makes a direct threat, like Arya Stark here, then you’ve got a leg to stand on. You can report this as offensive or inappropriate content on whatever network you’re on and you can also report it to the authorities who can take action.

NB: There’s a whole heap of factors to consider here but it’s definitely worth reporting.


The Troll


This is someone who is simply trying to stir the pot, start arguments, post inflammatory or offensive content with the expressed purpose of provoking/upsetting users.

The rules for dealing with trolls are pretty much the same as the rules for dealing with Gremlins:

  1. No bright light

Whatever you do never ever shine a spotlight on a troll. Simply (screen grab and log – you may later need to give this as evidence to the internet gods) report their comments/content as inappropriate/inoffensive, delete, hide or remove depending on the network. Persistence is key, keep on doing it and they’ll eventually tire

  1. Don’t water them

Essentially, there is no reasoning or arguing with a troll, anything you say back will likely provoke an even worse response. Don’t pour water on their arguments, they’ll only go nuts and destroy more stuff

  1. Never, ever feed them after midnight

In the cold light of day, rules 1 and 2 are easy, but when you get a nasty comment at 3am, your judgement becomes clouded; stay strong!

I had a troll myself recently, charming soul, offered to drive (yes drive) from South Carolina to Manchester UK (go figure) and kill my dog if I didn’t give her my Instagram username (I don’t have a dog).DUH!

Response – report as hate speech, block and she gets an Instagram time out. #SmugFace


The Righteous Complainer


You know that thing when someone has a real moan about something but they’ve actually got their information a bit wrong. Well, that.

Essentially the best thing to do in this situation is to gently correct the facts. Explain to them that the Big Mac doesn’t come as a meal unless you ask for it as a meal. That the 97 bus runs every 30 minutes but that’s at quarter to and quarter past not half past and on the hour, or thank them for telling you that your store opened five minutes after 9 instead of bang on 9.

Simply educate, thank them for feedback and let them know the full picture.


The Genuine Complainer   


Much like Adele, we’re getting deep now.

Essentially this is the bit where you have to put up and shut up. For example, a friend of mine recently flew back from the States, his electric wheelchair which he relies upon heavily was broken in transit. Leaving him essentially bedbound.

The airline refused to replace the chair due to ‘company policy’.

Enter, the mighty social army. Friends, family, friends of friends shared the story far and wide, meaning the airline’s social page was taken over by a mass of negative comments – with a pretty heart wrenching story at its core.

After a bit of persuasion, the airline offered to not only replace the chair, but actually pay the extra for the better model.  Leading to surge in online positivity around said brand.


I’m not saying the answer to every problem is to chuck cash at it, but if you’ve done wrong. Suck it up, apologise and do what it takes to set it right.

The I Don’t Like What You Said


There’s no rule for this one. I’m not a massive fan of people chucking their rubbish on the floor in the street, but if they’re bigger than me (they probably are bigger than me) then I’m not going to pick a fight with them.

This one’s up to you, if you don’t like what someone’s said you’re free to go back to them as you please. But just remember, they’re probably going to come back with something. So as your nan always said, remember to think before you speak.



By Anna Wilson, Head of Digital