Trolling, or social media behavior that is uncivil and provocative is one of the most potent sources of political polarization today. You may have heard the expression, "don't feed the trolls," but how do you know if you are interacting with one? Answer as many of the questions you can about another social media user below, and our models will create a prediction about the likelihood that they are a political troll (an extremist who engages in uncivil behavior designed to antagonize the other side). To learn more about how we protect your privacy, visit this link.
HOW DOES IT
Still having trouble figuring out if you might be dealing with a troll? The chart below identifies the most common terms used by political trolls between 2018-2021. Take a look through the last dozen tweets of the person you think might be trolling you
HOW DO THESE
The Polarization Lab has conducted multiple studies of political trolling on social media. Through these studies-- which combine insights derived from large public opinion surveys linked to social media data and qualitative interviews--we've developed a model that predicts the likelihood a person engages in trolling behavior based upon analyses of dozens of variables that describe the characteristics and behavior of social media users.
WHAT DOES IT
If our tool indicates you are interacting with a troll, ask yourself whether the user is worth your time or concern. Our research indicates trolls make up a small fraction of all social media users but account for a majority of posts about politics. Arguing with them may only increase their profile-- and if they have extreme beliefs, you are unlikely to change them.
I DO NEXT?
Though avoiding engagement with political trolls (or ignoring them) is a good first step, we also need non-trolls to engage more often. Our research shows that most people with moderate views rarely or never post about politics. But who should you engage with, and what are the topics where there is room for compromise? Check out our tools for identifying and connecting with moderates who do not share your political views, as well as our issue-tracker that identifies the topics where research indicates you are most likely to find compromise.
Are people from one party more likely to be trolls than others?
According to our models, being a Republican or a Democrat does not increase the likelihood that people engage in uncivil behavior on social media.