Upgrade to Chrome Upgrade to Firefox Upgrade to Internet Explorer Upgrade to Safari

Help & Information


Trolling has become the latest phenomenon to impact upon social media networking sites and is by far the most vicious and damaging to young people and adults alike.

What is a Troll?

A Troll is a term for a person, usually anonymous, who deliberately starts an argument or posts inflammatory or aggressive comments with the aim of provoking either an individual or a group into reacting.

The phrase was coined after a fishing term meaning that basically they (the troll) attach their bait (their comment) and wait for others to bite.



Trolls often target high profile individuals in order to provoke reactions from their fans and followers. Often the recipient themselves isn’t the intended target.

Sites such as Facebook, online forums, blogging sites and newspapers comments have all become a platform and a stage to bombard people with insults, provocations and insulting threatening language. Trolling takes place where others can see the comments made. If you receive abusive, aggressive or mean messages privately that isn’t trolling – that’s bullying.

Trolls go to great lengths in making their messages as hurtful as they can so that the recipient of the messages that are sent believe and are convinced that what has been said is true. The difficulty is that most of the people who troll online send the messages anonymously and therefore makes it difficult to identify who the sender is.

Concern over internet vitriol is growing but supporters of trolling argue it’s about mischief and freedom of speech. But for many the ferocity and personal nature of the abuse verges on hate speech.  In its most extreme form, it is a criminal offence.

The impact of trolling shouldn’t be underestimated – it has greatly affected the mental health of those targeted, and in some cases has even caused those persecuted to want to take their own lives – Jesy Nelson recently spoke publicly in her BBC documentary about just how badly the trolls affected her mental health.

How can I proactively prevent being Trolled?

  • Twitter – utilise the ‘mute’ button to disengage
  • Twitter – avoid ‘add ons’ such as Curious Cat. Whilst these can seem like fun games they give Trolls the perfect anonymous platform to engage in offensive comments and remarks
  • Twitter/Instagram – avoid use of hashtags on provocative issues. Trolls can search for their next person to attack using hashtags as a way to target. By not using them it makes it harder to find you and your posts online
  • Instagram – disable comments on your news feed to prevent comments being left publicly
  • Instagram – the stories function allows you to share posts and pictures but with any comments made kept private. This creates a vacuum for the troll
  • Facebook – use the ‘block’ function to block any offensive posts
  • On ALL platforms keep settings as private as possible to prevent anonymous trolls accessing your accounts, photos and information

Dealing with Trolling

  • Resist the urge to respond to abusive messages; this inflames the situation and demonstrates it has upset you
  • Screenshot any interactions and report to the relevant social media platform as offensive content
  • Change your account settings to friends only or private so that the trolls can no longer target you
  • Report any offensive photos or comments you see on your news feeds/timelines as offensive content. It’s important to take ownership for content we see on social media, the more of it we report rather than ignore, the less there is to affect others
  • Don’t engage back with the Troll in a new post, by tagging or ‘@’ing them. This just feeds them. This is exactly the reaction they are trying to provoke
  • Tell someone – a parent, a teacher – someone who can provide you with a bit of support if it’s affected you

The internet is governed in the UK by the Communications Act 2003 and also covers messages sent by text, e-mails and mobile phone calls. Under Section 127 of the Act, it states that it is an offence to send messages that are ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.’




Return to Website

Need to talk?

If you are being bullied or are concerned about someone who is, you can receive help and support from one of our trained Mentors through our e-mentoring service.

If you would like a Mentor to email you, please contact: mentorsonline@bulliesout.com

If you would rather speak to someone over the telephone, you can call Childline on: 0800 1111

For any community-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, we would suggest contacting your landlord, the local police or your local environmental health department (where applicable), as we are unable to deal with these types of complaints.