This Code Stops Internet Trolls In Their Tracks

Shopify developer Tessa Thornton describes herself as a "tech feminist," and she recently put her technical skills to use for the greater good of women and other heavily trolled groups all across the Internet. Her script Echochamber.js, available on Github for anyone to add to their website, lets trolls vent all they want — without burdening anyone else with their musings. How's that for a solid way to fight online trolls?

When someone adds a comment to a website that uses the Echochamber.js javascript, only they can see that comment — but they don't know that. This way, readers and writers are shielded from misogynistic, racist, and otherwise nasty comments, and trolls get to let off steam or whatever the heck their goal is without anyone else having to deal with it. Thornton explains on the script's Github page:

When a user submits a comment, echochamber.js will save the comment to the user's LocalStorage, so when they return to the page, they can be confident that their voice is being heard, and feel engaged with your very engaging content.

Now, that's a win-win for trolls and trollees everywhere. But if the process of adding code to a website is baffling to you, here are some other ways to keep trolls of various sorts at bay — or put them in their place, if you're feeling up to it.

Comment Trolls

1. Don't even read them.

See rules 14 and 15 of the Internet. If you have written the piece the comments are about, you will find ad hominem attacks that have nothing to do with the piece. If you are simply a reader, you will find people using the piece as a jumping-off point to share their unrelated opinions about various groups of people and world events — unless you are reading the comments on The Hairpin, where everyone is inexplicably nice.

2. Use the CommentBlocker extension.

This extension lets you block all comments on websites of your choice on Firefox, so you don't even have the temptation to scroll down. The CommentBlocker extension for Chrome no longer exists, but Chrome's Forum Troll Stomper extension can block comments by specific people on certain sites. There's also another extension called Troll Blocker, although this one has an oddly specific focus: It blocks commenters only on sports sites, because obviously the most threatening comments are "drivel from the trolls and idiots who support one of your rivals." But hey, if that's your thing, then go ahead and use it.

Social Media Trolls

1. Use the buddy system.

My friend and I have developed a convoluted but highly effective method to prevent me from viewing any tweets intended as inflammatory attacks against me. When I receive an abnormal number of Twitter notifications, especially after I've written the type of article known to ignite certain groups of people, he'll search Twitter for tweets that include my username and tell me who to block before I come across their attacks. Then, I can safely check my notifications for the people saying nice (or at least reasonable) things about me.

2. Pretend to be a man.

Just kidding... but actually, if you're desperate to avoid trolls, writer Alex Blank Millard did an experiment where she pretended to be a man on Twitter. Nobody once told her during that period that she was too fat to rape.

Online Dating Trolls

1. Block and report.

Thanks to the handy "block" and/or "report" buttons on most online dating sites and apps, nobody ever has to get away with introducing themselves by telling you you're ugly or spelling out their explicit and unsolicited fantasies for you. Blocking will guarantee they'll leave you alone (unless they're persistent and come back under another username — in which case, block them again), and reporting will minimize their chances of harassing anyone else.

2. Publicly shame them.

There are a ton of social media sites dedicated to shaming online dating trolls, including the Instagram byefelipe, where anyone can submit screenshots of people who overstep their bounds in their online dating messages. It may not make anyone change their ways, but it's sure nice to commiserate with 354,000 followers.

Images: Cali4beach/Flickr; Giphy (4); CommentBlocker; byefelipe/Instagram