Protection methods against online trolls and bots

The numbers are key when it comes to the need to persuade, influence, promote or harm competitors.

Robert Cialdinі, in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, talks about one of the powerful tools of persuasion - the principle of social proof.

According to this principle, we determine what is right by finding out what other people think is right. It is this idea that has become the basis for the algorithm online trolls and bots use. The numbers are key when it comes to the need to persuade, influence, promote or harm competitors.


In his article for Inside Science of the American Institute of Physics, Yuen Yiu, a Ph.D. physicist, notes that, unlike actual robots, bots are just computer algorithms that perform the tasks designed by developers. A bot can do anything from sending spam to throttling a website's bandwidth.

What you should know about online reputation management

Protection methods: quick detection of bots and instant response

You can tell a bot from an online troll by the following characteristics:

• faceless profiles;

• AI-generated text with very few if any errors;

• 24/7 activity;

• distribution of the same news on different platforms within a short time.

It is practically impossible to pinpoint fake news spread by a bot independently and quickly. The indicator of the number of fake duplicates plays a key role in detecting bot activity.

Reputational risk and how to manage it

Case Study. The McDonald's chain of fast-food restaurants in Ukraine was attacked by bots that distributed videos of the animals allegedly slaughtered for the preparation of meat items on the menu (we do not attach the link to the video for ethical reasons). There is no doubt that this was a targeted attack aimed at inflicting reputational damage to the company. After all, it is McDonald's and not any other restaurant’s logo that the authors of the video feature when they show random nameless meat factories.

Solution. With the help of LOOQME monitoring tools, you can identify all outlets for fake news; analyze the speed of its spread, audience, and geography of distribution. You can also set up alerts for timely monitoring of the increase in activity for key queries generated around fake news or related topics.

Internet trolls

It is mostly people who generate fake news online. Internet trolls are people who use fake names and other people's photos to create their profiles and promote the material, text, or idea that their customer needs. Internet trolls pose a greater threat as they are harder to tell apart from a real person, unlike bots, which are easier to identify.

Fake News: how to fight information attacks

Online trolls that can harm your company usually fall under the following categories:

• people who are psychologically dependent on the need to incite conflicts;

• trolls whose task is to undermine the authority of a businessperson or politician;

• fakes that participate in information wars between states.

Monitoring the crisis in online media and social networks

Ukrainian Radio Svoboda’s journalists distinguish the following attributes of an online troll:

• an emotional message;

• a clear statement that has an appeal;

• generic social media profile;

• few online friends;

• absence of own posts;

• a recently-created account.

Protection methods: Identifying the real owner of the page that distributes the news.

Case Study 1: An online troll spreads fake news about competitors on news portals on behalf of an influential executive.

Avoiding PR crisis and more: how to use and benefit with Alerts

Case Study 2: Online trolls rally in support of a particular candidate in the upcoming elections by posting in thematic groups on Facebook and falling back on the social proof principle.

Solution. Start by monitoring fake news and working with tonality indicators. This will help you identify the sources and the amount of negativity that has spread in the media. The number of duplicates and the speed of distribution will indicate whether the source is indeed an online troll.

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