When Internet Trolls Attack: Sherri Shepherd Edition

by Danielle C. Belton

Recently actress and The View co-host Sherri Shepherd found herself on the receiving end of some implied Internet violence.

Oh, Internet! The land where the weak become strong and the strong become morons. Where even the most intelligent person can be lowered by the discourse that – due to its much celebrated anonymity – can devolve quickly into 8th grade name-calling, racist rants, and misogyny.

Shepherd, though, decided she wasn’t just going to turn the other cheek when a user on Twitter suggested that she be dragged into a back alley and raped.

From E! Online:

“@DaCloneKiller You think I should be raped in a back alley?” she wrote yesterday. “Let’s see if the police agree w you & I took a pic of your tweet … I’M FILING A POLICE REPORT. SO TELL ME NOW WHAT SHOULD BE DONE W ME.”

And then again, to the offender himself, “I am going 2 file a police report 4U threatening me. And so help me God, when I find out where U live, charges will follow.”

“I’m tired of folk thinking they can hide behind a celeb Avi & type anything they want to you w/o consequences b/c they can’t be seen COWARDS,” she added. I’m not a little 19 year olds… I’m a grown @%$ woman… seriously you want to threaten me? I’m on my way to the police @DaCloneKiller.”

Naturally, getting rid of online stalkers, trolls, and other abusive types broadcasting from their mother’s basement, proclaiming themselves Internet heroes is easier said than done. While it may have been satisfying for Shepherd initially, she has fallen for the ultimate troll trap.

She fed them. And you never, ever feed a troll.

Internet Tough Guy, DaCloneKiller, responded to Shepherd’s cyber pushback with a not-so-witty: “I just wanna say thank you to all my followers that are supportin me wit this @SherriEShepherd fiasco. FAT BITCH AINT GOT NO MANNERS.”

After alerting the authorities, Shepherd learned that Twitter has to be subpoenaed before DaCloneKiller’s online info can be released. Meaning, again, in her pursuit of one jerk on the Internet (and to make it one less jerk on the Internet), she will be putting ever more energy into a guy who is either A) relishing the sudden attention he so desired or B) bragging to his friends on 4chan’s /b/ board or other online troll hot spots to discuss his successful trolling techniques.

But I know what you’re thinking, “But Danielle! Bullying is bad! We should stand up to bullies!” And that’s true, we should … within reason. There’s a big difference between joining some campaign to stop violence against women or children or violence against young men perpetrated by other men and getting yourself wrapped up in a cyber-war with someone who will very much enjoy this war a lot more than you.

As someone who has dealt with their fair share of cyber stalkers, trolls and weirdoes, here is how you de-escalate a trolling situation by denying them the thing they want so badly – to get into your head.

  • Ignore: My favorite (and tried and true technique) is to ignore what I can ignore – racist trolls baiting me didn’t even work back when I first started blogging in 2004. By ignoring them, they would just rail harder until they’d give up because they never got a response.
  • Delete and Block: When ignoring doesn’t work, usually deletion or blocking becomes the best method when it’s obvious someone has a little Internet crush on you. You don’t need to make a scene when you delete or block them. In fact, it’s ideal if you do it without fanfare at all, as it will remind them of how indifferent they are in relation to the universe. No one likes an existential crisis brought on by their racist rant being deleted or them being denied access to your social networking sites. They will move on for easier to rile up prey. If they’re a tried and true troll. But if they aren’t …
  • Never forget!:  Some trolls are just “in it for the lulz,” others are actual crazy people who get fixated unhealthily on others. For that reason, keep a record of the harassment in case it goes from Shoo-Fly pesky to Call the Cops abusive.

There are other tactics – like tracking and blocking IP addresses or trolling your troll in a bootleg Bourne Identity game of one-upmanship, but the problem with all those things is that it devotes a lot of time and attention to someone whose sole purpose is to suck up your time and attention.

Which, for me, was the biggest mistake Shepherd made. She made her fight so public that DaCloneKiller could relish in the attention. Shepherd should have quietly blocked the offending Twitter account from seeing hers, then contacted Twitter separately, flagging the user for being abusive.

If DaCloneKiller kept at it from there, like by changing accounts so he could continue to follow her and harass her, Shepherd would have a real, clear case for police involvement. And that the guy has gone from “Unsuccessful Troll” to “Grade A Internet Creep.” By forwarding it to her followers so they too would turn around and tweet, retweet and directly confront the user they all fed the troll. Which, as I stated before, is the worst thing ever as that is what the troll wants. Shepherd just made herself “troll bait” in the fact that she expects privacy, decency, even politeness in a crass public forum like Twitter. Meaning she is a great target for trolls because you’re almost promised to get a response out of her, every time.

DaCloneKiller was a successful as a troll because everyone stopped doing whatever else they could have been doing with their life to give over some time and attention to him. Time that could have been spent on better productivity at work, “liking” a Facebook status, taking a nap, deleting useless files from your computer or picking the lent out of your belly button was now sucked up by a phony crusade against a guy who likely wrote what he/she did simply to get this wondrous, well-meaning but misguided response.

Annoying people on the Internet, while initially rude or hurtful, are a lot like zits growing on your face. If you keep picking they’ll never go away. Rub some disinfectant on it and call it a day.

  • pb

    I agree that she should not have responded, but I do not agree that she should have ignored it. That was a very real threat, made to her in response to her question about where she should go to eat in NYC. NYC is big but actually very small world. She should have quietly pursued this behind the scenes so that the idiot would have a sudden surprise THEN get the media involved. She fortunately has the money and lawyer power to make that happen and probably would have even more great evidence to bring up. Yes some of these iBullies have proxies so that their ip is hard to track, but sometimes they do not –they’re just some ignorant kid in mamas basement. Bottomline if you have the resources like Sherri does you should take action on behalf of the people who do not instead of ignoring and allowing it to just continue as if it’s the norm.

  • Queen

    I think she was right for wanting to respond to the tweet, but could have done so in a totally different way (not publicly). By contacting Twitter and taking the proper legal actions the Twitter storm could have easily been avoided.

    But, of course this is easier said then done when someone is making such a threat…

  • Merci81

    I am glad she called him out on it. People think they can hide behind rude and nasty comments…And threatening rape!!!!!!!!
    A big part of your argument is judging how another grown women wants to spend their time and energy. If she has the resources let her. We live in a culture where we support cyber bullying. It’s time for it to stop.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Nice write up.

    PS: I watched that “Know Your Meme:Troll Bait.
    AWESOME!

  • http://www.jessicasimien.com Jessica

    Enjoyed this article. I understand where Shepard was coming from, but like the writer said, just ignore it. That person obviously wanted her attention, and he got it.

  • Kani

    Since when can we delete other people’s tweets?

  • O. Naomi

    While all of these points are valid, I still agree with the steps that Sherri took. This is a MAN threatening RAPE to a WOMAN. Not that it would have been ok if it was a woman, but there is something fundamentally wrong in that to me and I am so proud of her for sticking up for herself.
    I have had people who I don’t know tweet superficially rude things to me, and those usually get ignored but this fool went TOO far.

    Black people pride themselves on being “the realest” or saying things that are out of control for attention or because no one else will say them and I think DaCloneKiller (**sigh**) is a prime example of that. He wanted his followers to tweet him the typical “OMGYOUAMESS!” but evidently he did it with the wrong person.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Excepting that threatening a woman with rape is not acceptable, I agree that Sherri Sheppard is a horrible, disgusting, vapid woman who makes her money being a professional stereotype.

  • Velma

    Agreed.

  • http://twitter.com/youngpplofcolor Tajh

    It’s much easier to ignore trolls in theory than it is in real life situations. Especially in such extreme cases. This man said she should be RAPED. As sad and pathetic as the author of that tweet OBVIOUSLY is that’s so extreme that you have a reaction like ‘Wait- what did he say? What’s wrong with you?!’ And I think that was Sheri’s sentiment. As much as I know trolls love to be ackowledged I am still learning how to ignore them myself and its hard. On one hand they could continue life feeling insignificant and perhaps stop if we ignore them. On the other they could continue life believeing the nasty things they post are correct and acceptable. Racist and misogynist trolls are the worst. It pains me to see so much hate on the net because actual people write these things.

  • Targeted by Trolls

    The more I ignored my trolls, the more wild they became.

    I was hacked twice because they wanted my attention. Hacked for blocking, hacked for ignoring.

    So much for the blatant lie of “If you ignore them it’ll go away”. Ignoring them always makes it worse.

    Any cop ignorant to turn a blind eye to a rape threat, needs to step down and let a more competent officer handle the case.

    Instead of allowing trolls like this waste of life @DaCloneKiller to continue harassing others, we need to get our congress people involved and make this a felony.

    I’m sick of filing reports with the FBI on sites like Encyclopedia Dramatica, Oh Internet and 4Chan. These hate sites are filled to the brim with mentally ill racists, who as we saw in the cases of Ryan Cleary, Wikileaks and however many Craigstlist Killers that they do not stop, until they cross a line, start stalking people in real life or until someone is dead. To ignore an online predator is as terrible as handing a pedophile access to a playground. It’s dangerous. And as adults, we had better treat it as such.

    I see too that this blog already has trolls on it. To Val and N What, you are both disgraces to the human race for judging a woman based on her very difficult decision. Her health was in danger the two times she did what she did. Would you have been happy if her condition worsened and she died too? Those two collections of cells were not yet human beings, and abortion aside, they had no chance at ever becoming one. Take your fake cult beliefs elsewhere. You are not God nor are you our savior, Jesus. Be grateful neither of you were aborted, certainly we’d be better off without you.

  • Chloe

    I’m glad that Sherri took the measures that she did. I don’t understand how some people can say that she should of just ignored it. Women are beaten, raped, kidnapped, and murdered; every single day! She took the right measures you just never know. Some people are crazy.

  • Mocha

    I agree with you to some extent but with what he said I don’t blame her for shouting back.

  • Ravenne

    “I see too that this blog already has trolls on it. To Val and N What, you are both disgraces to the human race for judging a woman based on her very difficult decision.”

    – Well said. It’s funny that they consider Sherri a hypocrite, all while holding a kettle saying so. That’s when you know that small-time trolls like these characters aren’t worth the time or trouble.

  • befree

    I agree with the steps she took.. HOWEVER she was bullying too when she commented on how bad Lil Kim looks now which brought out the Lil Kim minions.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    @Ravenne

    It wasn’t one decision, that woman had EIGHT abortions. EIGHT! She was using abortion as birth control. So if you want to defend that go right ahead.

  • bella b

    I love how the vlogger Chescaleigh deals with her trolls. First she will retaliate with a witty comment (case in point: Answering “go back to Africa you black b****!” With “OMG you’d actually pay for me to take a vacation in the beautiful motherland yadda yadda yadda) but she will only answer once. If these people continue to badger her, she ignores them and after too long, shed block and delete. Shephard, meet Chescaleigh.

  • Jocelyn

    I think it’s scary that he actually had people supporting him…sickness everywhere >:-(

  • Step

    She may need to follow/get some tips from Reagan Gomez, that’s one celebrity who’ll check a fool then block them in a heartbeat! I love following her.

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