The dark side of social media

sochi 2014We’ve all been kept up to date with the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the struggle for Great Britain to win more gold. With Gordon Brown having sold most of the UK’s gold many years ago, it’s much needed. Speed skater Elise Christie has been the focus of much media attention over the last few days but it seems for the wrong reasons. She won silver, then disqualified, raced again, disqualified again…seems to be a theme arising.

Sadly, she was targeted online via Twitter by trolls having suffered this misfortune. “I have had a few people threatening me, cyber bullying basically, so it’s been a tough few days”. Christie explained. “I have to deal with abuse on the internet. So I have found it hard but it’s not always about the medals”.

The cyber bully is a fairly new phenomenon. Several people in the UK have been imprisoned for “trolling” and it’s increasingly making the headlines. Recent new stories include Tom Daley, Rebecca Adlington and Stan Collymore.

Brands get attacked too. So what do you do if you, your company or client are overcome by cyber bullying? Well the larger social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are under some pressure from the Government to tighten their security to help quash trolls and the potential damage they can do. Here are my top tips:

1. Like playground tactics, if someone’s bullying you, ignore them. I realise this doesn’t always work, so you have other options.

2. Each social media channel worth its salt offers owners or admins the chance to easily block and report spammers and trolls, swiftly removing them from your online space. This is now often administered by a click on the post.

3. If that doesn’t work, reach out to that social media platform and log a complaint. I stress that it’s worth taking the time to build a relationship with a representative from the channel(s) you use. They often have the power to block, officially report and work with the police, in extreme cases, to take these little people off the internet.

Further to Christie’s bad luck on the ice, she’s taken down her Twitter handle too. From a brand’s perspective this isn’t the answer, but I hope you find some of the points above useful if you come across something similar.Personally, I like the Urban Dictionary’s definition of a troll: “Being a prick on the internet because you can”, with a strong emphasis on the first three words in that description.

Oliwer Kmiecik is Social Media Manager for Toyota & Lexus GB at cubaka. Follow him on Twitter @carbonollie.