Gary Lineker, TV presenter and former star England striker, Countdown presenter Rachel Riley and London mayor Sadiq Khan have joined forces to support a campaign that calls on social media users to mute, block and report “abhorrent” and derogatory comments – with the worst handed to the police – in a bid to starve so-called trolls of a wider audience.
Former home secretary Alan Johnson and ex-minister for business Margot James are among the politicians to have backed the scheme, while Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden, Pointless quiz show host Richard Osman, former The Apprentice sidekick Nick Hewer and comedian Aisling Bea have also vowed to take part.
According to the CCDH, sharing the tweet increased the abuser’s own popularity by 14 per cent. The Twitter user had accused the politician of not being “indigenous English”.
Excerpts from a playbook produced by the US neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, advised that the best way to gain “media attention and general infamy” was “to troll public figures and get them to whine about it”.
Mr Lineker, presenter of BBC’s Match Of The Day and winner of the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup, said he was determined to “show online trolls the red card” after seeing the racist abuse directed at young black Premier League footballers.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, 21, admitted his mother was in tears after reading the torrent of racist comments targeted towards him after he missed the decisive penalty in the European Super Cup against Liverpool last month.
“We’ve all been shocked by the way in which racist trolls have been targeting footballers recently,” Mr Lineker said.
“It is frankly horrifying that they have done so in a calculated way to spread their abhorrent views. Let’s not allow the beautiful game to be tarnished in this way.
“Don’t rise to the bait, block the trolls and take some time out.”
Similarly, Mr Khan encouraged more people to play their part in tackling online hate, stating that there is “tremendous power” in the way users react to social media conversations.
“By ignoring, muting or blocking the trolls we can deny them the reactions they seek, while government and social media companies must up their game to ensure it is a safe space for people to exchange ideas,” Mr Khan said.
She said the experience had “totally changed" the way she interacted on Twitter.
“Before having CCDH’s knowledge it felt like not responding to trolls or blocking them was weak, and calling them out, trying to engage in conversation and education was helpful, but the research shows otherwise,” Riley said.
“I now block trolls as common practice, and have changed my settings to avoid seeing much of their output, which has made life much better from a mental health standpoint and vitally, is not inadvertently helping to grow their audiences or feed their negativity.”
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