Why we don’t feed the animals – or the trolls

Why we don't feed the animals - or the trolls

A lot of decisions about social media policy get made behind the scenes, and are pretty boring (having to do with changes to algorithms or the use of vertical format video in a world of widescreens). But there’s one decision that’s worth explaining to our supporters, and the public at large: we won’t feed the trolls.

For the purpose of this blog, we’re defining a troll as an individual who posts on social media (or comments on articles, etc.) with malicious intent, to disrupt or illicit reactions and not contribute any ideas, solutions, constructive feedback, or legitimate questions. It’s important to note that these aren’t individuals who react with anger to something upsetting, who attempt to defend their position (particularly in an emotional charged situation), or who simply disagree with the mandates of The Fur-Bearers and our supporters. It should also be acknowledged that we remove comments inciting violence or hatred from social media users, regardless of their position.

Defender Radio Episode 414: Compassionate Communication

In our last discussion about managing internet trolls, a funny thing happened: we realized it was like conversations we have about preventing wildlife conflict.

While this is admittedly simplifying two extremely complex matters (wildlife conflict and internet trolling), we do see overlap:

  • Feeding wildlife encourages them to return for more food (trolls return for attention)
  • Feeding wildlife disrupts the natural movement of an ecosystem (trolls disrupt the flow of information)
  • Feeding wildlife can lead to unexpected conflict (trolls can escalate to stalking or criminal harassment)

As such, our policy is simple: we don’t engage with trolls. We’ve had wonderful conversations with people who are diametrically opposed to the mandates of The Fur-Bearers, and believe fur isn’t cruel, or that traps aren’t inherently inhumane. In those conversations, we learn a great deal about how others view our messages, why some new strategies both in policy and in the field may not be effective (or how to make them more effective), and have an opportunity understand why some people oppose us. In some cases, we’ve made great strides with individuals who once did believe trapping was appropriate, that wildlife culls were necessary, or that fur is a humane option.

We will continue to have difficult conversations with people who don’t agree with us, and we will always be open to thoughtful, compassionate communication. But make no mistake – we won’t feed the trolls.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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