It is not a hidden fact, MP’s are subject to public scrutiny. Some of whom are made infamous by their candid approach to politics online, others who are only using social media as a platform to publicise their charity work and key thoughts on policy; a useful tool to reach a wider population, hence more interest and impact. However, MP’s are suffering colossal levels of abuse from the public, on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, with levels increasing from 10000 to 25000 since the 2015 General Election.
Research by the University of Sheffield’s Computer Science department, of over 1 million tweets, has shown that more public figures, such as Boris Johnson, have seen an alarming rise of abusive tweets between the 2015 General Election and the 2017 By-election, figures stating that 9.3% of tweets concerning Boris are that of abuse, which is an increase of 2.7% from 2015, with Jeremy Hunt taking poll position with abusive tweets increasing by 4% in two years.
However, it is not just limelight MP’s attracting more abuse, female MP’s especially, are becoming increasingly volatile through targeted abuse and threats of violence, with some reports suggesting the abuse is also a roadblock for women into a political career. With 93% of MP’s having some kind of social media account, set only to increase, could we find Internet Trolls become more and more common?
Parliaments Health and Wellbeing service even suggested some MP’s ‘close down’ their accounts, for their own mental health, with Dianne Abbot speaking out to defend herself and her colleagues as the ‘mindless abuse’ continues every day, not just during elections. It is no wonder why MP’s such as Stephen Doughty, are joining Dianne’s rallying cry against their abusers and why the government is ‘consulting on new measures that will protect candidates and campaigners standing for public service’, as the black screen between culprit and victim becomes more transparent than ever in an ‘intensely hostile environment’.