Former Love Island candidate Amy Hart said her online abusers were often people married with children or in jobs like nursing, and she had received a death threat from a child of 13 years.
Hart, who was testifying before a committee of MPs investigating influencer culture, said she had 3,000 Instagram followers before appearing on the popular ITV reality show. When she left, she had 1.1 million. “It changed a life: suddenly going from nobody knowing what you were doing to everyone knowing what you were doing.”
Hart said she’d rather lose followers by being open about what she believes in and what she cares about rather than being unbiased.
“I get negative reactions when I talk about things, and I will say that the [social media] the networks are not favorable enough to trolling.
She told MPs she reported abusive comments and were told they did not violate community guidelines. “You look at this barrage of messages someone sent me before 7am about how much they hate me, how ugly I am, how everyone hates me, how ugly I am … From a fake account too. Are you telling me that this does not violate the policy? “
Hart said she sometimes digs deeper into actual account abuse and takes to Facebook pages. “I was getting trolled by nurses and people with husbands and children. I’m like, “Do you go to dinner parties and tell your friends you’re hanging out random 29-year-old girls that you don’t know?” I just don’t understand it.
The trolls were often middle-aged women, Hart said, with “some of the most horrific messages I’ve had” coming from school children.
Hart said companies like Instagram should insist that users provide identifying information, such as a national insurance number or, if you’re under 16, one of your parents’ NI numbers.
“One of my death threats went back to a 13-year-old teenager. You think, if it’s them at 13, in their room, what are they going to do when they’re 18 and they’re alone?
Hart said it was up to him to remove the abuse. She also uses a filter tool to block words such as “fat” or “ugly”.
She said she had lost faith in social media dealing with trolling. “I probably stopped reporting them now because I know there is no point. “
Hart was backed by Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson, who said he was abused on Twitter. He has pointed it out several times “and they responded by saying [the post] did not violate our community standards ”.
A previous session of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (DCMS) heard from social media influencer Em Sheldon, who said influencers face daily online attacks from women whose “only mission is to ruin our lives”.
Hart’s testimony follows footballer Rio Ferdinand, who spoke forcefully last week before a joint committee of peers and MPs considering a bill on online safety. He said he had seen members of his family “fall apart” because of the level of online abuse he had suffered.
Under the draft proposals, social media companies will have a duty to protect users from harmful content, including racist comments, threats and harassment, and could, theoretically, face fines of billions of dollars. pounds if they don’t.
The DCMS committee studies the culture of influencers: people who have the power to change people’s buying habits and are often paid by brands to do so.
The role of the committee is in particular to examine the absence of any regulations.
For her part, Hart said being an influencer is too often seen as a bad thing. “It’s a form of advertising. There’s so much negativity around this as a job… If your kid would say, “I want to work in advertising,” you’d say, “Oh, great. People have to realize that this is real work.