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Twitter Trolls: The Snowmobiling Effect

I've recently puzzled out one way that trolls on Twitter feed off of each other to "gang up" on one person. I call it "the snowball effect" and thought I'd share this observation for anyone who is interested. Mostly I just want you guys to be aware of how you can unwittingly find yourself in the middle of a pack of trolls and how to avoid getting into this situation:

OK, so suppose you're on Twitter and you engage with a person who has an opposite opinion. Now let's say that this other person has thousands and thousands of followers -- not a few hundred, but TENS of THOUSANDS.

The person either replies to a tweet you sent out ... or they retweet something you sent them. Realize that when they do this, you now have a spotlight on your account. And all of their followers, most of whom may be trolls who have nothing to do but harass people, are suddenly paying attention to YOU.

This is where the "snowball effect" comes into play.

Once your tweet has been acknowledged by the person with thousands of followers, you're a sitting duck. You will start getting replies from all of THEIR followers, and in some cases, harassment. And if you have a web site or blog address listed in your Twitter bio, you may notice harassing comments on that site from those same Twitter trolls.

This happened to me this morning.

One thing I will say is that I never engage with a person like this UNLESS I am fully prepared for the consequences that I just outlined above. If you are having a bad day or feel like you can't take controversy, the best thing to do is to stay away from people like this on Twitter. However, if you feel that it's important to make a point and you're prepared for the onslaught, then engage -- but do so knowing that you will probably see "the snowball effect."

My best advice is not to interact with people that are obviously on there to troll. In the case this morning, I noticed that the person in question had held up a blogger for ridicule, and I chose to respond to defend the blogger. That said, I don't do this a lot.

Hope this little tip helps, and I'd like to know if any of the rest of you have ideas or suggestions for dealing with Twitter trolls that have been effective for you.

omg hope ur ok!!
I don't use Twitter, and I think Im never going there, because it has trolls.
Hello Heidi,

I'm sorry that you are being bullied. It is very sad that we have to be concerned about trolls and bullies on social media and in almost any online forum. We should be able to have discussions on diverse opinions without having our own opinion attacked.
That being said, we need to know what to do when bullies show up on our pages and in our online lives.
When the person(s) are bullies and harassing; the best line of defense is ignoring and blocking-definitely don’t respond or retaliate, which encourages their negative high. Trolls get their high from the response and seeing the reactions their posts or comments get. Block them from posting/commenting on your feed, and report them. Here is the link to how to block and report on twitter- www.cybersmile.org/advice-help/category/twitter
For any other social forums- follow this link and then select the forum from the left hand menu…https://www.cybersmile.org/advice-help/category/social-networks
I hope this helps. As always, if you need any more advice or help, please contact the team –[email protected]

Thanks, Deb! Those are wonderful tips, and I'm so glad you included the links and the "help" info. I hope this chat thread will help anybody who has encountered Twitter trolling for the first time and is at a loss about what to do!
I know that Twitter have tried to improve the way account holders filter and block these types of accounts. I think the idea is to make it easier for people to manage what is being seen on their Twitter page as the trolls can really ruin the experience for you if they 'get in'. There is a lot of mob mentality on Twitter and the trolls tend to group together and target people. Sad really, but it goes on day after day. I use it rarely but am happy to block/filter any negative stuff if it happens.
Thanks, Cyberninja, and yes, you're right. The best thing to do when you find yourself in the middle of a "mob," just block and filter. It's a hassle, but because I enjoy Twitter for the interaction I get globally, I stick with it. I did quit Facebook, but Twitter is worth it for me personally.