Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics

Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-10-26
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics
Unit 2Transcript: Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics
Unit 3Workbook: Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics
Unit 4Recording: Navigating Negativity: Strategies for Managing Trolls and Online Critics

Social media created an interesting twist to human interactions. Sometimes, for some people, it can become so toxic that a social media detox is needed for mental well-being. The negativity can go tenfold when it comes to government agencies that are accountable to citizens – every interaction is magnified, subject to public scrutiny, and can be blown out of proportion.

Kate Kimble is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to explore the nuances of maintaining an online profile as a government agency and the different characters that may bring negativity into the space. Kate is the Public Information Director for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office in Northern Colorado and a faculty member at the Aims Community College. She has background in both the private and public sectors working in crisis communication, journalism, and social media management.

Points Kate covered during this presentation include:

  • The inevitability of negativity in the online space particularly for government entities and how engaging in online conversations provides an opportunity to shape public perception and educate.
  • How disabling comments hinders authentic engagement and understanding public sentiment.
  • First Amendment elements of social media where it is considered a public forum
  • Distinguishing between official and personal social media accounts, what it means to be viewpoint-neutral in online moderation, and guidelines when it comes to responding to hate speech.
  • Managing spam accounts and platform violations and the tools and recourses when dealing with these.
  • The importance of training backup moderators and having clear guidelines to ensure consistent moderation and allow staff to take a break from dealing with social media.
  • The types of characters that may spew negativity online – who they are based on their messaging, and how to best respond to them.
  • How having healthy critics indicates effective outreach.
  • How responding with kindness is the best approach for those who had a rough stretch or bad experience.
  • Spotting individuals who are likely suffering from mental illness based on the content, theme, and patterns of their posts.
  • Identifying behavior and underlying personality traits of trolls based on the dark tetrad.
  • Understanding a troll’s motivation by understanding the concept of the brain’s reward systems.
  • Categories like actual threats, obscenity, and defamation that can be generally removed without First Amendment conflict and instances that require escalation and law enforcement intervention.
  • How managing social media can take its toll on one’s mental health through cumulative stress and even trauma.
  • Steps that people exposed to negative while managing social media can do to mitigate its adverse effects by creating boundaries surrounding social media activity.

Points raised in the Q&A are about:

  • The concept of social reality that Kate introduced in the webinar.
  • Dealing with spam and phishing comments.
  • Dealing with former employees who turn into online trolls.
  • Unhiding comments that contain links that are actually helpful.
  • Risk-versus-reward considerations when it comes to TikTok.
  • Differentiating personal vs. official social media accounts.


Click here to view and register for other upcoming PIO, Social Media, and Communications webinars on the JCH Platform.

Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Overall excellent information. Very well presented. Super knowledgeable presenter. Well done!” — Burgundy
  • “I appreciated the solid advice from a great presenter. She addressed so many issues that we are currently dealing with. And it was wonderful to hear how she handles things. Nicely done and super helpful!” — Deb
  • “Monitoring Assistance available on social media.” — Garry
  • “Using Moderation Assist to block comments with links. This is a huge problem and that is an excellent takeaway!” — Hollie
  • “Interesting, practical, and a visually nice presentation. Thanks for the specific examples.” — Kirsten
  • “It was interesting to learn the laws regarding hate speech and what is allowed and not allowed on behalf of an organizational social media account.” — Savannah
  • “I feel like everything was so relatable but especially like the information on how to deal with trolls.” — Melanie
  • “The webinar flew by! Very engaging and informative. The presenter really knows her stuff and I was happy I signed up for this webinar.” — Vicki
  • “The Presenter provided some well-thought-out beneficial information and was thorough in response to questions. AWESOME!!!” — Vivian



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit in Core 4 (Officer Wellness & Mental Health Awareness) for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




Additional Resources
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