April 24 2020 04:43 PM

Attacks on your social media channels can be disheartening, but there are ways to manage the hurtful comments and negative people.

There is no rest for animal rights activists, even during the COVID-19 crisis. We've even seen an uptick in activity and attacks from them on social media.

Whether it's organized or not, the attacks tend to hit all at once as they try to overwhelm a Facebook page's reviews and comments or on Instagram with comments or hashtag takeovers.

It's definitely tough to deal with these attacks, and it can make you want to shut down your social media channels, but this is exactly their goal. They want the farmer's voice to go away so the only story consumers will see and hear is from them.

Here are some tips on how to handle an attack.

How do you know you are being attacked?

You'll know it's an attack when you start getting several hundreds of negative comments and reviews within a couple of hours.

1. Block and delete: Once you determine it's an attack, don't think twice about removing the ability for these people to post on your page.

How to block and delete on Facebook:

You can easily touch the three dots next to a post and hide it or delete it. Facebook has a menu that allows you to walk through the violations. Be warned, though, Facebook does not see what activists do as harassment and probably won't remove the post on their own. It's better to just delete the comment and block the profile.

If you click on ‘find support or report comment,’ you will get a menu to walk through to report the profile.

You can also limit who can post to your Facebook page by turning on moderation. This does not work with comments, though, and you also cannot turn off comments to a Facebook page post.

Instagram handles comments a little different since it is for mobile only. There are several options:

a. You can restrict, block, or report a profile for harassment.

b. You can manage comments by deleting them.

c. You can manage them by turning off comments for a post or adding restrictive words to keep comments from appearing.

d. You can also block or restrict individual accounts. Blocking means that they go away forever. Restricting means that you can see their comments (and so can they) but no one else can.

2. Ask for help: If you are getting attacked by activists, don't assume that others see what is going on. Being a part of ag-friendly groups like Dairy Farmers of Facebook or Dairy Checkoff Farmer Facebook Group allows you to ask others for help when you need it. You can also reach out to your fans and followers in a post to let them know what's happening. Your local dairy checkoff can offer assistance, and you can always reach out to me at don.schindler@dairy.org.

3. Unpublish or Go Private: If the activists are just too much for you to handle at the time, you can always unpublish a Facebook page or go private on your Instagram account. Now, I know I said this is exactly what the activists want, but you are just pausing your activities for a brief period of time with this tactic. Shut down for a few days and then relaunch after things have settled down.

How to unpublish a Facebook page:
Go to your Facebook page, then settings, then general, and you’ll see you can unpublish your page.

How to go private on Instagram:
It’s a little more complicated on Instagram. Go to your Instagram profile, then the hamburger menu on the top right, then settings, privacy, account privacy, and then click on private account.

How do you handle dealing with activists? I would love to hear your strategy. You can comment below or reach out to me at don.schindler@dairy.org. If you would like to know more about what your national and local checkoffs are doing to build trust with consumers, please join our Dairy Checkoff Facebook group.

Don Schindler

The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.