A group of celebrities, politicians and campaigners have made a pledge this week not to publicise online abuse, but instead to mute, block and report social media trolls. This follows the release of the #DontFeedTheTrolls report, published yesterday by new charity, Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

The report suggests that hate speech including homophobia, sexism, racial and religious discrimination and xenophobia is being inadvertently spread when insults, put downs or threats are quoted or shared on social media. It recommends that people don’t engage, pointing out that getting a reaction is exactly what trolls want.

Instead, the report suggests that users report online abuse and messages of hate either to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or in the worst cases where it is unlawful, directly to the police.

Celebs including Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker and Countdown’s Rachel Riley have shown their support for the campaign. Lineker, who has over 7 million Twitter followers tweeted this morning about the campaign, highlighting the racist abuse often faced by young black Premier League footballers:

Gary Lineker tweet - Dont Feed The Trolls social media campaign

Rachel Riley was involved in the research behind the report and also tweeted to show her support for the #DontFeedTheTrolls campaign:

Rachel Riley tweet - Dont Feed The Trolls social media campaign

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is among the politicians who have backed the campaign. He told ITV News: “I’ve seen first-hand the online hate when social media is hijacked by hateful and cynical users who usually hide behind anonymous accounts…”

He added: “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.”

This follows a BBC One documentary that aired last week with Little Mix star Jesy Nelson, who opened up about her mental health struggles and a suicide attempt, after experiencing abuse from online trolls after X Factor.

In the documentary, Nelson also meets with others who have been targeted by online trolls, including the families of those who died by suicide as a result of cyberbullying. Both Jesy and the programme received lots of praise online and it was called ‘inspiring’ by critics and fans alike.

At South Coast Social, we believe that social media spaces should be safe spaces, for individuals and brands to promote their creativity, free from negative comments or hate. We think that the campaign and the documentary are inspiring and hope that both contribute to a more positive online culture.

If you’ve been affected by online abuse, organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk).

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