How police departments can neutralize internet trolls

The topic of trolls has been a hot issue recently, both on the web and in print magazines. In fact, I was interviewed for a recent edition of Time magazine on the topic. The author of the article, Joel Stein, did an incredible job of telling the story of how trolls are creating a horrible environment and experience for some people on social media.

Trolls are highly active and continue to be a problem for the majority of people using social media. In his piece, Stein succinctly details how the term “trolls” has evolved from cyber criminals who trolled the internet to find victims into individuals who engage in extreme forms of cyber harassment, bullying and intimidation.

In my experience, and in speaking with some colleagues who specialize in law enforcement social media, it appears that trolls are having an increasingly hard time being effective against police. That’s partly due to an influx of people who have made it widely known they support law enforcement and agencies that are using social media for community policing, public relations and crime fighting purposes.

When online trolls first started hitting law enforcement hard, there was little done to combat their comments and activities. Most agencies were just getting started on social media, so the playing field was wide open for trolls. This was compounded by most departments using the traditional “no comment” response to everything, and as a result, trolls were negatively impacting the law enforcement profession.

As a proponent of law enforcement’s use of social media, I still encounter departments that are hesitant to use social media because of the potential for people bad mouthing the department in public….

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