Pause and think before you post!

For the last seven years, I’ve emphasized the same crucial point in BOMAH’s social media workshops: telling stories online is not like talking to your friends on the street. We can’t be emotional; we need to think about what will happen after we post, and we need to be aware that what happens on social media stays on Google forever.

For the first time last week, it was hard for me to pause and think. I received a lot of hateful comments on our company fan page because of my US tour.  When I posted about our US tour using an image that riffed on Hillary Clinton’s “Ready for Hillary” slogan, my hope was the it would be amusing. It was never my intention to anger people or to elicit so many comments about Israel .

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The first comment I received from Mr K. He looked like a good guy, a student maybe and although his comment had nothing to do with my tour or my organization, it was very creatively written.

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For the second comment I got great advice for making peace here by  Mr S

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Number 3 was a  creative image by Mr. Smith that put the Mossad, Bibi, and global conspiracy in one image

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There were more, but let’s save our time and energy. Most of them are on their way to the Mossad for review.

So why did I get so many hate comments on this post?

I think this is the main challenge that pro-Israel voices face on social media, especially students who use social media as a main tool to share content about Israel, and on US campuses.

It’s so easy these days to post hate comments. Facebook says they are trying to stop it, and when I reported those comments I received that they will look into it ? what does that even mean. Facebook isn’t doing enough to put an end to hate speech.

Anything connected to Israel on social media gets a lot of hatred. There is so much uncontrolled hatred that pro-Israeli voices are afraid  to share their stories on fb. I visited more than 20 campuses with social media and storytelling workshops and I find this challenge as one as the most disturbing.

Students told me about life threatening messages on Facebook  shaming and bullying and only because of what? one post of a photo from TLV beach. This is how the delegitimizing of Israel story working well on social media.

I believe that Israel is the only nation in the worLd that gets more than 3000 hate tweets/posts/comment every day on social media.

Who Are these Social Media Hate Trolls and what can we do about  them?

The same way marketing Trolls work in social media to highjack a story and change the narrative the Hate Trolls are highjacking Israel’s narrative by inserting themselves in stories .  Anti-Israel Hate comments are made by individual or groups who wait for their shining moment to comment on anything about Israel,Their goal is to get an emotional   response and hijack the Israel story. They usually use bad language, CAPS, and hate images in attempts to create social media terror so that people will be afraid to post  about Israel again. No matter how kind your response is, they will always find a loophole to post hate again.

I want to go back to my fb post. More than 7,000 people saw it and 193 engaged with it. On social media, from our work on social media , I believe  that when sharing our stories (Israel, engagements, weddings, or just your cat), people connect and engage more with the positive content. The 5 negative comments I got is nothing compared to the reach and engagement that the post itself got.

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So Here are 5 steps to deal with hate trolls when we talk about Israel on social media that will help us continue sharing stories

1- First share your story and discover why it matterS first for you.

Most normal readers don’t want to express hatred. You should be confident that you and most of your social media friends share common ground and same  values. Your social media network and friends know who we are and why you share stories about your personal life and Israel. If it’s personal and coming from what we believe in, people will engage with it . Most of us prefer to engage with positive content on social media, and we see this when people like your post. If your Israel story its about who you are, the connection to the Jewish people and its part of your narrative and identity, same thing that you posting about your best food, experience, friends post about Israel.

2- Map your audience: use FB friend list or custom post  to control your audience.

A Facebook list is a privacy setting let us target any content we share with a specific group of your friends. That can be helpful when you need to keep anti Israel groups out of your Israel content or  from letting them know  about your events.When you share your content to a specific list, you can target the the right audience with your stories.

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On a company page you can also choose your audience by using a preference audience.

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Or base on Audience restriction

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(You don’t need to pay for this option, just set it on your fan page setting.)

3-Pause and think. Don’t act on your emotions. Develop a response only for real issues and normal comments.

When you get hate posts, you should work fast to remove the hate posts but also understand the difference between hate and legitimate  criticism and those who are harassing your page and then you discuss what to do with the trolls. You work hard to create content and share your Israel story, so don’t let others highjack your story. Remove these comments and eliminate these people from your fan page. Or you can unfriend them and move them to a restricted friend list. This way they will never hurt your personal or community brand. Allowing these hate comment to stay or open a debate on your page will hurt your Israel story. You may need to ask someone to monitor your fan page in case you have to leave it for a while.

4- Ignore Them

Hate Trolls just want attention. They want to get you Atzbani ( Hebrew word for angry). They succeed by making us frustrated or emotionally uncomfortable. No matter how hard it might be, ignoring them is your best strategy.  When they don’t get a response, they’ll most likely take their hatred somewhere else. In fact, according to more than 200 cases studies of hate posts that we have encountered on pro-Israel fan pages,  60% of respondents that  choose to ignore (below I will explain what I mean by “ignore”) the hate post and not to reply got much more engagement and support from their community and campuses than people who opened a heated debate against those comments.

5- Delete hate troll comments and report them

Ignoring the trolls is just the first step . The following approach takes more chutzpah, especially because most people don’t even want to deal directly with the Trolls.

When hate trolls leave negative comments, a valid strategy is to delete these comments and report them to Facebook. You can block them, ban them from your fan page and submit their posts to facebook to review. In addition to deleting the hateful comments, Facebook has made it easier for you to all report and ban those users who clearly aren’t contributing to healthy dialogue.

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Conclusion

Social media is a place where you can share your story, what you believe and your connection to Israel. Pause, think and be strategic. It will make your social media a safe and fun place for friends and followers to engage with.

Just keep your cool and share what you believe in!

Itzik Yarkoni is the founder of BOMAH.co a  social media branding firm, BOMAH campuses tours with the support of Hasbara Fellowships and Bar Ilan University School of Communication