Ignoring and blocking online trolls is the best way to tackle online hate, new research has found.

The newly-established Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has published a series of guidelines urging targets of online abuse to resist the urge to respond, block them immediately and to report any potentially criminal content to the police.

The report, co-authored by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos and Imran Ahmed, CCDH chief executive officer, said engaging with trolls was less about winning an argument than the trolls leveraging an opportunity to spread their propaganda as widely as possible.

“When a troll targets you for abuse, block them immediately; this will ensure that they cannot tweet at you ever again, and removes mentions of them from your notifications,” the report’s guidelines advise.

“If you receive several tweets in a short period of time, temporarily switch off app notifications on your mobile devices; this will protect you from unplanned exposure to troll hate.”

 The guidelines advise against posting about being a target of abuse, as doing so is more likely to invite further abuse and sympathy, “all of which raises troll content up in prominence”.

Social media abuse

Taking time away from social media and treating yourself with compassion is important in the wake of being trolled, it added.

Social media firms, particularly Twitter, have been heavily criticised for failing to curb the rise in online abuse.

Jesy Nelson, one-quarter of the girl band Little Mix, recently admitted she had  attempted suicide due to an onslaught of online abuse eight years ago.

“The whole world had an opinion on me,” she said in her new BBC documentary Odd One Out, “and they weren’t good ones.”

 The anonymity provided by the internet has also prompted calls to force users to use their real identities when using social media.

Footballer Harry Maguire recently called for Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram to verify every account in order to crack down on “pathetic trolls” after his Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba was targeted following his penalty miss against Wolves last month.

“Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it,” Maguire wrote on Twitter.

“Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people.”

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