Skip to main content

Responding to Criticism on Social Media

Carola is an entrepreneur and freelance writer. She has worked in the business world as administrative support for many years.

As a writer, I try to get the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation every time I post my articles on websites and social media. I know that no matter how well thought out and articulate my work is, a negative comment might pop up. If I have made a mistake, a posting criticizing me may appear in a public forum such as Facebook or Twitter.

Some people who post are strangers to me, but most seem to have my best interests at heart. I appreciate their feedback. I feel a sense of safety because I know I will be advised if my article is unclear or needs correction. It is hard not to thump my forehead with my hand a few times and wonder how I could have made such a stupid error. Fortunately, the problems are usually quick fixes.

Sometimes, people leaving comments add a few words of praise, which my poor battered mind appreciates. I consider their remarks to be constructive criticism - not social media bashing.

On the other hand, many people use social media sites to judge and put down businesses and other people – especially writers and celebrities. Social media circles refer to these people as “trolls” and their postings as “trolling.” Social media bashing may take the form of character assassinations, rude content, offensive putdowns, or general craziness.

Reasons People are Critical

Why do so many people seem to love to tear down celebrities on social media and delight in their failures? No matter how much good celebrities do and how much they accomplish career-wise, these facts do not usually do not show up on social media. Instead, some people will speculate that singers are lip-synching, entering rehab, or tsk-tsk about the so-called monstrosities celebrities are wearing.

Some reasons why people criticize others on social media:

  • An urge to vent all the unhappiness and discontent they are feeling by projecting their negative baggage on others
  • To express anger and disillusionment when celebrities fall off a pedestal, revealing imperfections such as marriage failure or substance addiction
  • Rage their jealousy of people who have what they do not have such as fame, position, or riches
  • A compulsion to overcome low self-esteem by acting superior to others and putting them down
  • Feelings of outrage that their core values have been violated and need to be defended, no matter how nonsensical they may be

How to Respond to Criticism on Social Media

Take A Timeout Before Responding

We should read postings carefully to determine where people are coming from. Sometimes people just want to push their own beliefs and agenda on us and do not care what we think. These posts are usually upsetting, so we need to calm down before we decide how to respond.

If we become defensive and counter all their claims in our answers, trolls will become furious and serve up an even worse dose of the same criticism. A timely, neutral response may stop what could become verbal abuse. All of our postings should be respectful, even though we may disagree with the posting.

Ignore Them

Postings that are offensive, rude, or are an obvious bid for attention can be ignored or deleted. Trolls who are looking for attention will stop and look for other victims. A small percentage may have a sadistic streak or mental health issues. For the sake of our sanity, we should block them.

Respond in a Timely Manner

A timely response can stop other critics from jumping on the bashing bandwagon. A quick answer also shows people that we are honest, have integrity, and are willing to be held accountable.

Acknowledge Critics in a Positive Way

Instead of hitting the delete button, making a nasty retort, or taking vengeance for hurt feelings, we should treat people politely by responding to their posts with kindness. If we ignore or bash people who have valid points, we may get a negative backlash from our followers. We need to keep in mind that people can share our responses widely on social media.

We can thank people for their feedback, even though we may be fuming at their effrontery, and tell them that we will consider what they have to say. The main thing most people want to know is whether they have been heard.

Set Boundaries

Sometimes, we must set boundaries with critics. We have the right to demand that we are treated with dignity and respect. Consequences can be set for abusive people.

Do Not Argue

A current phrase going around on social media is: “Don’t feed the trolls.” We can express personal opinions but us arguing with most critics is fruitless. A rant is likely to infuriate people and set off a verbal assault. Other followers may join in if we do not address certain threads. Sometimes a non-committal soft answer can calm down irate people and assure them that we will consider their position. We should stay neutral by answering logically rather than emotionally.

Identify Issues Requiring Attention

There will probably be issues in the posting that we should clarify or address. We should respond with a list of the ways we are dealing with the problems. Our answer can be gentle and kind, which is much more effective than nastiness and verbal retaliation. In businesses, we should offer our contact information, continue talking offline, and report our progress.

Accept Responsibility for Our Mistakes

We should accept responsibility for areas where we were in the wrong. We can offer our apologies, say we will investigate, and get back to people, if needed.

Develop Company Guidelines

If we have a business, we should create a plan and guidelines for responding to negative posts. The best results will come about if we appear to be:

  • respectful and kind
  • open to criticism
  • willing to acknowledge our errors and correct them
  • open to discussion

No matter how nasty or out-of-line social media comments are, we can choose to learn from them. Our considerate answers can defuse anger and frustration and address any issues that are raised.


10 Positive Ways To Address Negative Feedback On Social Media, Forbes Communications Council, Forbes
How to Handle Social-Media Criticism, Entrepreneur, Ann Tran
3 Creative Ways to Address Consumer Criticism on Social Media, Tabitha Jean Naylor

© 2013 Carola Finch


deborah84 on May 23, 2019:

I know about a "Troll Alert" and then totally ignore the person from then on.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on May 02, 2018:

Carola, an article that sparked my interest. I usually get good comments on social media and I appreciate what people say good or bad. I have no problem with comments that don't agree with mine and I will admit that in a few cases it made me look at things differently. However, when someone leaves a nasty and vulgar comment they are crossing the line. I will delete their message and block them from replying on my page again.

Krzysztof Willman from Parlin, New Jersey on April 21, 2015:

I've devolved into this topic with a couple of my own hubs though you nicely described every aspect of criticism regarding social media. I to believe that most "trolls" are either jealous or are struggling in their own lives. Sometimes their criticism is legit so I'll never assume they always want to take you down. Great hub and voted up!

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 02, 2015:

Thanks for sharing. This issue is tough to navigate.

Neetu M from USA on April 02, 2015:

Carola, indeed we must learn to observe the same decorum online that we do (or ought to do) offline in the real world. I have thought a good deal about why people tear down other people for a variety of reasons, online, and a few things come to mind. I think there might be a certain latent potential or desire in many people to erupt at things and discussions they feel safer to do because they are not face-to-face with the others. Sitting at home, in a pub or a restaurant, even if those you are conversing with have differing views, you just generally follow the restraint imposed by "decorum". That falls away when the X, Y, Z sitting across cyber space has another viewpoint. Sometimes, the worst of our behavior comes out when we wear an anonymous mask. Just my two cents. :)

Mohammad Tanvir Ibne Amin from Dhaka on December 05, 2014:

Criticism on social media is depends on situation. Generally people do not like to hear any criticism. But it important for recovering bad things. Great hub.

Richard Warren from London, United Kingdom on September 25, 2014:

IMO, when we publish something in internet. We are opening our works to different view of public opinion.

Paul Jellicoe from Neston, UK on March 03, 2014:

I agree with other comments, like any art it's always open to critique and trolling. Look at the likes of Coldplay, every time they have a new album out, NME readers will stamp it 'crap' 'awful' etc... without ever listening to the material. The same goes for writing, if they don't like what they're reading, then they can freely avert the eyesight elsewhere.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on February 26, 2014:

Thanks for your comments. I think that responding to critical readers is one of the most difficult challenges for writers.

Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on February 26, 2014:

These are excellent tips and advises, no wonder this hub was featured as a hub of the day, which it truly deserves... It really takes nerves, courage and a great deal of maturity to overcome criticisms in the way you have portrayed, but surely it is the best and only way to positively wave them off. Thanks for this wonderful share

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 28, 2013:

Thanks, Deborah-Diane. I agree that time is too short to spend it upset with people who usually have issues that have nothing to do with us.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on December 27, 2013:

Great advice. I usually thank people for their feedback, and ignore their statements. If they are very inflammatory, I delete them. Life's too short to put up with some of the things people say.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 07, 2013:

Thanks for your comments.

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on November 07, 2013:

So true. It's everywhere -- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Many people are downright nasty especially those who have questionable accounts, so they have the gall to say offending things. I only have to think that well, it's their problem and not mine. It shall pass -- except if those people speak nasty against anyone I'm close to, my friends and family. It's either I confront them or block them, which thankfully rarely happens.

cheeluarv from INDIA on September 02, 2013:

very helpful hub,on how to consider negative,hurting comments.voted up useful.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 02, 2013:

Thanks for your comments, folks.

L Izett from The Great Northwest on September 01, 2013:

I think number one...the source of criticism should be considered. When celebs get bad fan mail or media publicity, well it should be ignored. If someone leaves me a comment about my hair, but I wrote something about religion...well duh...that comment would be silly to respond to. Deciding on what is constructive is most valuable. Anyway, your hub is thought provoking. I'm still mulling it over...

Machashabah from The Coast on September 01, 2013:

This was helpful, thank you!

Isabella Mukanda from Fort Myers on September 01, 2013:

That old golden rule, "do to others what you would have them do to you," is truer for the social media than any. I joined social media first with my mouth before I made my presence known. I spent hours reading blogs and commenting. I gave honest feedback, because I believed that is how life is supposed to be lived among fellow writers. I am sure some people may have considered me a troll. Some were really unpleasant and banished me, others were more pleasant and drew me in. When I started my own blog, I vowed to be pleasant, open and teachable. I have learned in as far as I can, to disagree without being offensive or arrogant. I never delete comments and so far, I have never received comments that were aimed at insulting or offending, even if I could see them that way if I chose. At the end of a heated discussion, I have made sure to shake hands with everyone and move on. However, there are people who have vowed never to return to my blogs or posts again because they felt my stand was too strong; now, I cannot help that, so life goes on... I post and I blog. Social networking is life in motion, whether we like it or not, it is not some superficial lifestyle, it is like belonging to a club, others like it, others do not. It is not going away, we will have to learn how to do life that way as a permanent way of living. Thanks for sharing.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2013:

Hi, izettl: Thanks for taking the time to comment. The hub was not intended to be a one-size-fits all. It was intended to be a guideline for people who may be upset or perlexed by criticism and looking for ideas about how to respond. As for the thick skin - haha, yeah, I have got one too, though there is a soft, sensitive artist underneath.

L Izett from The Great Northwest on September 01, 2013:

I have mixed feelings on this...on one hand I think too many people agree with each other just for the sake of agreeing in our overly optimistic (but more depressed than ever) society that is afraid to offend anyone (God forbid being politically incorrect). People think its the end of the world when something negative is stated. But negativity is very subjective- you can have one person who takes a comment for a comment but they have thick skin (so to speak) then you have another person who is very sensitive that takes many things as negative- basically those people shouldn't be writing online. They walk away from what could be a learning experience. I used to imagine theorists, scientists, and philosophers sitting down to discuss things and I never imagined they all agreed with each other but I bet they learned a lot from even some heated arguments.

I've been writing online for several years (on some hot bed issues) and I take all info in- I consider it, then take and leave what I want. I do engage at times to negative comments- too many people walk away from them when so much can be learned from those that don't agree with us. Think about it...

So here's my constructive criticism- it's a great hub BUT I think you're trying to be objective with a one-size-fits-all answer to a very subjective area. A more appropriate hub might be 'How to grow a thick skin when dealing with people online'. Just kidding about that, but I think you get it.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2013:

Thank you for your encouraging comments.

Author Victoria Sheffield from Georgia on September 01, 2013:

This is great work!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on September 01, 2013:

Several years ago I joined Facebook, only to have a very unpleasant experience there. I left and will never return.

There are some people, of course, who can use Facebook in a positive and enjoyable way that benefits them and their true "friends" and family. However, there are many others who sign onto FB and, in the process, appear to leave behind their humanity. Those people use the social network as a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon the psyches of others.

"No matter how nasty or out-of-line social media comments are, we can choose to learn from them." Personally, I don't see any reason to subject ourselves to "nasty" or "out-of-line" social media comments, and I don't see what could be learned from them...except which people to avoid.

That's why I no longer "do" Facebook. I realize, of course, that I'm in a small minority. However, I've read a lot of negative comments about FB and think my group of ex-Facebook-members is growing.


Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2013:

Thank you for your comments.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on September 01, 2013:

A great hub with great tips on how to deal with criticism on Social Media, something we've all been touched by. Congrats on the HOTD award!

eunice stuhlhofer on September 01, 2013:

Informative hub Carola. Voted useful!

Benjamin Chege on September 01, 2013:

Great Hub Carola Finch!! I also think some people feel secure behind social media, as they are able to operate under fake identities and get away with the wrongs they do online. However, I agree with you that one should respond quickly to the false statements said about you on social media before they go viral.

Jatinder Joshi from Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2013:

Nice post. I had a person who posted a very nasty personal attack in his comment on the post that I had written. Like you suggested, I first researched where he came from, and then put my own comment which read something like, "Thank you for your considered opinion. I would highly appreciate comments that are relevant to the subject rather than being leveled on a personal level." It worked.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2013:

Thanks for your comments, people.

JR Krishna from India on September 01, 2013:

I didn't have to face so much criticisms so far online. But I had my share in my personal life where criticized behind my back. However it did not have any impact on me.

TrudyVan Curre from South Africa on September 01, 2013:

So True. Keep true to yourself and you should be ok. voted up

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on September 01, 2013:

Informative, useful and highly appreciable. The contemporary world are so immersed in Social sites. Lot of issues are there. A good study on the proper use and misuse of these sites are a must. You have done a good research and wrote well. Thank you for sharing such a useful content. Voted up and shared on my FB for great publicity and education.

cozytown from Mechanicville, NY on August 22, 2013:

So useful. I have get thicker skin! Thanks for this.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 16, 2013:

I think that people forget that there is a human being on the other end who has feelings. Bet you they would scream blue murder if someone treated them that way.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on May 16, 2013:

Unfortunately, me too! People have said the meanest cruelest things to me online.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 16, 2013:

Thanks. I have had more than my fair share myself.

Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on May 16, 2013:

Great hub! Voted up and shared. I think all of us who have an online presence has had social media criticism.

Carola Finch (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 06, 2013:


Karen A Szklany from New England on April 06, 2013:

Very clear hub about responding to those who make comments in response to a social media writer's article. Enjoyed the inclusion of the video.

Voted Up and Useful. :0)