Social Media Trolls

Not all trolls live under bridges.

One of social media's hallmarks is the way it gives everyone a voice. Unfortunately, that's also one of its biggest drawbacks. Thanks to social media trolls and bots, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know which posts are legitimate and which are specifically manufactured to sway our opinion while serving a hidden agenda.

Sheera Frenkel of the New York Times reports on the emergence of trolls on the image sharing site Instagram. Many of these trolls have direct ties to Russia. In fact, the Internet Research Agency is reported to be a Russian troll farm that employs hundreds of people to specifically spread misinformation and propaganda on various social media sites, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. One of the concerns with trolls on Instagram is the ease with which images can be shared and the impact these images can have. It's truly a case of a picture being worth a thousand words.

Supporting Web Links
Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. Encourage the class to discuss their experiences with trolls on social media. How do they determine if a post is legitimate? Are students aware of the large number of fake accounts that exist on social media sites? 
  2. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to explore a different social media site (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and locate 5 examples of posts they believe may be posted by trolls. Each group should prepare a presentation and explain why they selected the posts.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to locate a recent article or multimedia item about the impact trolls are having on legitimate news outlets. Students should write a brief synopsis of the article.


  1. This is why I am always so skeptical about those jobs on facebook that people make videos about saying they make a thousand dollars a week for instance selling a certain thing. It is almost as if it is too good to be true! I always want to try it but then think to myself that it could be a scam. It is very difficult who to trust on the internet.

  2. There are so many trolls on the internet, some make things more interesting but internet scams are just downright annoying so I always read reviews and check to make sure sites are viable before messing with them.

  3. Governments all over the world are manipulating social media for their own ends. That’s where the digital foot soldiers come in, smearing opponents, spreading disinformation and posting fake texts for ‘pocket money’

  4. I do not use these sites very often. However, I was unaware of "trolls" on Social Media sites. I have seen a few fake accounts on Facebook. I did know there is some information out there that is not legitimate.


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