Internet Trolls

28 November, 2013
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Trolling is making provocative or offensive comments on-line to get a reaction. Trolls usually operate anonymously. Internet trolls hit the headlines this summer when they threatened Caroline Criado-Perez following her twitter campaign to have Jane Austen’s image on the £10 note.

Why, you may ask, do employers need to worry about this? Think for a moment how you would react if one of your employees was publicly named as an internet troll. What damage could such a revelation to do your business? What would you do if you found that one of your employees was trolling a colleague or customer? The reputational damage alone could be devastating.

The digital world is now so fast paced that it is difficult to ensure that your work place policies keep up to date with change. Most employers have email use policies in place, but many have yet to put a full social media policy in place. As prevention is always better than cure, it is vitally important that you train your employees to ensure that they understand the implications of the policy. ACAS recommends a ‘common sense’ approach to social media and suggests that employers treat on-line behaviour in the same way as off-line behaviour. What is crucial is that employees are aware that their on-line behaviour may bring the business into disrepute or amount to harassment of their colleagues irrespective of whether it happens at work or on their own time and on their own device.

Smart employers are not adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach and hoping for the best. They are putting in place social media policies, often in conjunction with their employees, and ensuring their employees are fully trained to understand the dangers of social media and the potential consequences of their actions.