Online trolls will silence the voices that deserve to be heard
PUBLISHED: 13:09 28 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 28 May 2019
If you can’t find something nice to say, say nothing, right? That’s how Donna-Louise Bishop was brought up. So why do so many people think it’s OK to stick the knife in to people online?
To coin a phrase from Bob Hoskins (kids, ask your parents) it's good to talk - or is it?
The internet has brought together people from all walks of life from every corner of the globe and as well as being informative and improving communication, it has opened up entire worlds from the safety of our own homes. No one could have predicted what it has become.
It's shaped a generation.
But with this evolution a darker side of the web has reared its ugly head.
Rather than opening up debate, we are starting to see young people shy away from social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These sites have given millions of people a voice but rather than becoming a powerful platform for change, we've seen a dramatic rise in online trolls tearing people down.
Rebecca has over 15,000 followers but has received abuse online, calling her 'scruffy' and 'fake', comments that she found deeply upsetting.
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"As someone who has experienced mental health problems, the biggest impact online trolls have on me is making me doubt myself and it makes me want to shy away," she said. "I don't know why people do it, maybe jealousy or just something to do, but the impact it has on the person they are trolling is huge."
Latest statistics have shown that two thirds of adults in the UK are concerned about what they are seeing online, with half of those people reporting seeing hateful content in the past year.
Considering nine in ten UK adults are online, and 99% of young people aged between 12 and 15 are too, this is not a problem which can be ignored.
It's simple surely? I was brought up to believe that if you cannot say anything nice, then do not say anything at all.
Sure, let's invite debate and difference of opinions but perhaps I'm being naïve to think such goodwill and sense still exists.
I am not just referring to online spats. Bloggers, vloggers - or people dubbed social media influencers - are being persecuted via tireless rampages of hate by online strangers. While they may be opening themselves up to comments by sharing so much of their personal lives and beliefs, what terrifies me is the rise in websites being created just for people to post comments tearing the influencers down for simply having a voice.
It is encouraging to see government prompting actions with the publication of its white paper Online Harms, but is it enough? Or should online platforms take more responsibility?
Whatever the answer, one thing is sure. We need to take action now before we lose an entire generation of voices to fear.
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