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Why can’t I have just one troll-free zone on the Internet?

Photo by cali4beach, Licensed under Creative Commons

Photo by cali4beach, Licensed under Creative Commons

We all deal with Internet trolls. Reddit, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter… they’re everywhere, sitting behind the safety of a screen and raining on parades as long as they can type.

Maybe you’ve been a troll once or twice in your life. I know I have.

Sometimes a troll just jumps in and says something that has nothing to do with the topic. Sometimes they go on every message board, every fan page, every Youtube video and to every major Twitter account just to tell the world about the latest conspiracy theory.

There are also trolls who enter conversations and say stuff just to be jerks. Sometimes being a jerk becomes being a cyberbully. They’ll use their keyboards to shout people down, report their accounts for spam, resort to personal attacks and even jeopardize people’s work and living situations.

I thought Pinterest would be a great place to post photos and art that inspire me, reflect my views or bring happiness to other people. But in recent weeks I’ve had to deal with some of the most obnoxious trolls on Pinterest.

I’m a progressive and I have a board called “Take Our Country Forward” in which I post quotes and images that reflect my political leanings. The only comments thee have received are people who just want to jump in and start debating with me.

You know, I have a few scrapbooks at home, and when I was a kid I had a bulletin board in my room. I have yet to see some random person come in and try to argue with me over my collections.  Yet, when you put it out there for all to see, suddenly it’s fair game for mean comments, personal attacks, unfounded accusations and lewd comments.

Can’t we just have one spot on the Internet in which people don’t try to start fights?

One of the things I love about Pinterest is that if you don’t like the stuff in one of your friends’ boards, you can simply unfollow that board. So if, say, your friend has a board called “I LOVE CLOWNS” and you have an inherent fear of clowns, you can just unfollow and spare yourself the nightmare.

I work with HUNDREDS of wonderful bloggers and marketers, and we all have different sociopolitical and cultural leanings. But when it comes down to it, we see past our differences and still support one another.

We’ll never be able to eradicate the plague of trolling, but on Pinterest? Come on, seriously. And the sucky thing is that Pinterest has yet to give us the option to mute or block trolls. Maybe when they do it will be a safe haven for troll-free sharing.

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  • Beth Anne
    Twitter:
    April 13, 2012, 10:03 pm

    So true! I once saw on One Tree Hill “people use the internet for 2 things: porn and complaining.”

    P.S. I love the picture. I was obsessed with trolls as a kid.
    Beth Anne recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday {Volume 23}My Profile

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      April 14, 2012, 9:38 am

      Ha! The picture is from the Creative Commons library in Flickr. Lots of stuff there that you are free to use as long as you provide attribution.

      Reply
  • Laura Sykes
    Twitter:
    April 14, 2012, 9:00 am

    That is amazing and also very sad. Like you, I would have thought that Pinterest ought to be one site that is naturally free from trolls. You are not normally expressing an opinion there, though of course a poster can be a powerful statement. Still, it is primarily a visual site so I am sad that you have had this experience. I hope Pinterest introduces a facility to allow you to block people.

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      April 14, 2012, 9:37 am

      I hope it does too, Laura – thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Reply
  • Nicolas Liu April 14, 2012, 9:05 am

    If you post in public, you’re inviting some comment. It means both agree or disagree arguments. Just this week, one person was seeking ‘comment’ for his photo on Flickr. I made some suggestions, or constructive improvement. Suddenly, I receive a message that such ‘comment’ are not welcome. OK, then he should state that only praise were allowed, not comment.

    Certainly, troll belongs to another category, which most blog could control it through a filter system. But, I don’t know if there’s anything similar for Pinterest.
    Nicolas Liu recently posted..What’s The Miles Per Hour?My Profile

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      April 14, 2012, 9:37 am

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Nicholas. Yes, I agree there’s a major difference between constructive criticism and trolling/antagonizing. I love criticism that offers guidance and help, but that wasn’t what this was at all. Pinterest has no blocking option; I think you can report pins for violating the TOS, but not people.

      Reply
  • Liz
    Twitter:
    April 14, 2012, 9:41 am

    Pinterest should really give an option to block obnoxious users. I hope you can at least remove their comments.

    Unfortunately, trolls will never disappear because there are people who just find immense joy in being snarky or who harbor a great deal of rage and look for opportunities to vent. Trolls are insensitive narcissists and get a great deal of pleasure out of pushing people’s buttons. Until human nature changes, this is unlikely to radically change.

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      April 14, 2012, 9:50 am

      Love your insight, Liz. It’s sad but true. You can even look back to the days before the Internet, when people used the Classifieds and Letters to the Editor to troll.

      Reply
  • Timour Rashed
    Twitter:
    April 15, 2012, 11:22 am

    Nice article but shouldn’t “They’ll use their keyboards to shout people down, report….” be “They’ll use their keyboards to shoOt people down, report….” or did you purposely put “shout” as yell ppl down. Not being a troll, just wondering if it is a spelling mistake.
    Timour Rashed recently posted..Home technology: A helping hand or a burden?My Profile

    Reply
  • Princess Rainbow Sprinkles August 5, 2012, 12:33 am

    You can now, at least delete comments that you don’t like on your pin. I’m a liberal and atheist… I find a way to irritate trolls–just pin more stuff they disagree with! I keep a board just for that–if people don’t like it, they don’t have to follow it… However, I do make comments on pins that are racist, homophobic, spam, or urban legend (like the making Mountain dew glow by adding peroxide)… Maybe that makes me a troll for calling out people on their shit or pointing out they’re spreading virus ridden or unintelligent crap around the internetz… but I’ve noticed Pinterest won’t take that stuff down (at least not for months after reporting the pin)… It would be nice if they had private boards–or at least boards where you can control the level of commenting (like only approved followers)…

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      August 6, 2012, 4:38 pm

      Yeah, I delete the comments but I want a dang blocking function. Because some of these people are just trolls who need to be stopped. I mean, the kind of trolls who need to be stopped.

      Reply

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