You’ve been called a “Libtard,” a “snowflake,” and any number of disgusting things on Facebook by a suspect source or sources. Worse yet, these bullies and bots bring in garbage about Hillary, the “baby killer,” depict President Obama in hate-filled cartoons or call him any number of unspeakable names, or simply continue to spread outright lies. People respond to this negative post and soon enough, your entire Facebook page or Twitter feed is filled with frustrated responses to a disgusting line from a name you don’t recognize. Let’s end this now.
Bots and Trolls:
Bots and Trolls are not the same things, but they are both destructive. Bots are also known as web robots. According to Wikipedia, “More than half of all web traffic is made up of bots.” Not all bots are bad, but they are all automated, non-human. Used maliciously, as they are with increasing frequency, bots are employed to commit fraud, introduce and spread viruses, and manipulate opinions, steal elections.
Trolls, however, are real people, some working for the Russian government or an Alt-right “farm.” Trolls typically create a false identity for their screeds, i.e., a 92-year-old grandmother in Pittsburg when the actual “troll” is a 36-year old white guy from Alabama. With a little research, it is possible to find a troll’s identity and the one he or she stole. That 92-year old calling you a ‘libtard” on Facebook is really the name of a dead woman in Binghamton. She was 90 when she died, had been a teacher, and proud member of her union. But the troll is using her name to disparage unions and insult Democrats and Progressives online. It is really a way of anonymously causing havoc and manipulating people with lies. In the process, someone’s name is besmirched.
Bots have been tracked by our National Security experts to St. Petersburg, Russia. Bots cause “Trending” in which it appears that there are lots of users writing on the same topic, when, in fact, the hateful and lying messages are all emanating from one source.
Putin’s mission was to cause havoc in our 2016 presidential election, and his people found that bots were very effective in spreading lies, false news, and insulting posts. Unfortunately, this Russian strategy, apparently embraced by the Trump campaign, was powerfully effective. Bernie supporters turned on Hillary supporters, and Hillary supporters became angry with Bernie supporters largely due to bots and trolls on social media, pretending to be in either Hillary’s or Bernie’s camps when they were in Putin’s. Both camps of well-meaning people got played.
You’re not on Facebook or using Twitter to be maligned, abused, or forced to listen to insane/ignorant/dishonest and manipulative rants. You, however, are also not helpless.
To get rid of these bullies who use fake names, names of dead people, and duplicates of Facebook friends’ names, or bots, follow these simple steps, provided by Facebook:
1. “Click at the top right of any Facebook page.
2. Click Privacy Shortcuts
3. Click How do I stop someone from bothering me?
4. Enter the name of the person you want to block and click Block
5. Select the specific person you want to block from the list that appears and click Block again
People will not be notified when you block them.
If you can’t find someone using this method, try going to the person’s profile and selecting Block from the menu on their cover photo.”
Persistent trolls (the name given to someone who harasses a person or groups on Facebook) will often come up with another fake name to begin the cycle of abuse again. However, too bad for them because it is so easy to block him or her again and again and again. You can also “call out” the trolls, identify the moniker they are using and let your Facebook friends know the trolls “identity.”
Let us all make a determination not to be played by bots and trolls. Enjoy your social media platform of choice but be aware and don’t be taken or played. Make your Facebook page or Twitter feed a place you can communicate with a wide circle of friends and interesting people. Engage in discussions with various points of view but don’t allow the bots and trolls to enter and dominate. If they show up, show them the exit door!
Nancy Avery Dafoe