How physicians can handle online trolls


A continuing series on physician online reputation.   For more KevinMD minutes, please visit my YouTube channel.

How do you deal with trolls on the web? Whenever you’re online you’re going to have people who disagree with you, and they can do so in ugly and inflammatory ways. These people are known as trolls.

I’m going to borrow from marketing legend Guy Kawasaki. He suggests going 3 rounds. Let’s say you write a post and someone responds. That’s round 1. Then you answer back. That’s round 2. A person replies in kind. That’s round 3.

If the conversation isn’t productive by this time, I would just end it and move on to a more productive use of your time. Dealing with trolls, unfortunately, is a reality especially in the areas of medicine and health care. I’ve dealt with many on my own site as well. Going 3 rounds has certainly helped me move on.

Kevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and co-author of Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices. He is on the editorial board of contributors, USA Today, and is founder and editor,, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.


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