What to do when the hate comments start rolling in?

A smartphone with a picture on the screen of a young woman reading something on a laptop screen, her hands over her mouth. Inset images show insulting comments including 'idiot', 'loser', and 'I hate u'.

If you post your thoughts publicly on the internet, you’re opening yourself up to hate comments.

What to do when the hate comments start rolling in?

By Teagan Lisson, Project Manager and Content Specialist, Innovate By Day

Need help dealing with hate comments? We’ve got your back

So, you’ve decided to post something on the internet: it could be a picture of your lunch on Instagram, a link to your shop on Facebook, or a TikTok of your creative process. Congratulations, you just did a scary and vulnerable thing by sharing a part of yourself with the world! 

You start to move on with your day when a notification pops up. You get a hit of dopamine from the ping, but when you actually read the comment, it’s not what you expected: they’re criticizing what you’re eating, commenting on your body, or saying something mean just for the sake of being mean. As panic rises in your chest, you start to panic: “Should I delete my post? Destroy my phone? Move to China and change my name?” Stop! Innovate By Day is here to help.

Let’s face it: if you post your thoughts publicly on the internet, you’re going to get negative comments. It’s pretty much inevitable. While I believe the world is a kind and wonderful place, the internet is where people feel empowered to say whatever to whoever (whomever?), often anonymously, which can lead to negative interactions and hurt feelings. Sometimes these comments go from hurtful to hateful.

Step One: Take a deep breath.

The first step when you’ve received a hate comment is to stop, relax, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re okay. The internet is just a bunch of ones and zeroes, and if you want an engaged audience, you need to be reading comments and replying. 

Step 2: Read the comment again.

Take a deeper look at what the comment says. Critical comments can sometimes feel like a direct attack, but sometimes negative feedback can actually be helpful. Let’s say you just hosted an event, and on a photo you posted on Facebook, someone criticized the number of bathrooms available at the event. While you might feel embarrassed to see this comment posted in such a public place, the commenter just wants you to be aware of something that would improve your event in the future that you might not have seen. Next year, you’ll know to provide more bathroom facilities for your event, and your attendance and ratings will increase. 

Step 3: Acknowledge and respond appropriately.

This is a chance for you to interact directly with your customer and turn a negative experience into a positive one, hopefully creating a returning customer. Share the feedback with the necessary people in your organization and reply to the commenter, thanking them for bringing this issue to your attention.

What started out as a negative you’ve just turned positive! Nobody’s perfect, and in order to improve, sometimes you have to take difficult feedback. As much as it hurts and can feel embarrassing, this is part of learning and growing.

The best course of action: Address the comment politely and thank the commenter for their feedback .

Here’s another scenario: you receive a negative comment, but it does not include constructive criticism, just a plain old traditional hate comment. Again, review this comment and decide, “does this warrant a response?” Sometimes responding to these comments can escalate things unnecessarily, but sometimes you can actually de-escalate things with a response. Often, if you truly understand your audience, you can jokingly respond and people will laugh and move on.

Example: I posted a TikTok about Birkin bags and some of the pictures I used were actually of Kelly bags. After a few comments, I opted to respond this way:

Image is a screenshot from a comments thread. The commentor writes 'babes that's a Kelly bag the olson twins are always carrying' and the reply from our Golden 20s reads I know (perspiring emojis) I'm dumb

People laughed and liked my comment and moved on, which I count as a win!

The best course of action: Respond in a polite and friendly but short way if you feel you have an understanding of your audience.

Another scenario I want to discuss is the random, mean, hateful comments. These come from people who don’t follow you, could be anonymous, and it might even seem like they haven’t watched your content at all. 99% of the time, I choose to ignore these comments. If it’s something completely ridiculous, luckily, my followers and friends will defend my content on my behalf, but for the most part, silly hate comments get chalked up to a waste of comment space and ignored. The critical thing to remember is that these comments are inevitable! It doesn’t matter how perfect your content is; there will always be someone randomly getting mad from behind a screen.


A commenter posts 'Wtf was wrong with that tree'

(that is my beloved fiddle fig tree he is talking about, by the way!)

A commenter posts 'I feel like these lists are just gaslighting us to be content with the bare minimum instead of demanding universal healthcare and UBI'

A second commenter replies 'By 'afford' do you mean credit card', followed by a line of laughing emojis

The best course of action: Don’t respond.

The last scenario I want to bring up is abusive comments or comments that are actually hate speech. 

Luckily, many social media platforms we exist on have automated systems that can weed out offensive comments and hate speech before they become public, but these systems are not foolproof. And unfortunately, these comments are becoming the norm on the internet. The best course of action is to “hide” them so they aren’t public and report them to the platform to deal with. Often these are one-off comments from people trying to be “funny” or “edgy,” but if these comments come from a repeat offender, the block button is your friend. Nothing is worth dealing with these people who will never be your customers or your fans.

You may wonder why I haven’t recommended that you delete comments. That seems like a simple solution: no one else can see the hate, all of your comments look nice and friendly, and everyone is happy, right? Wrong. Often deleting comments only makes the haters angrier. This gives them more motivation to continue to comment hate, to get their friends to help and comment hate, etc. and can escalate a scenario from one unpleasant comment to a wave of hate coming your way. 

There are exceptions: if a comment is spam, mark it as spam! Again, if a comment is abuse, a hate crime, or something similar, report it, “hide” it and allow the platform to deal with it and the commenter. Like all of these previous examples, don’t panic: read the comment and make a rational and informed decision on how best to move forward.

Hate comments are inevitable, and honestly, they can be really great for engagement (I miiiight have posted that Birkin bags TikTok knowing that people would comment negatively on it, and it currently sits just shy of 60K views). Negative comments can help you to improve your content if you make use of the feedback you receive. I know how much it hurts to see negative comments in a public forum, but it is, unfortunately, a part of existing on the internet, so you just have to learn to live with the haters.

Need help navigating the complexities of negative comments? Reach out to Innovate By Day, and we can help with your community management.


Teagan Lisson is a project manager and video editor at Innovate By Day. She is also the co-host of the podcast Our Golden 20s.

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