Last Thursday the Countryside Alliance launched a new Thunderclap campaign targeted at combating the online abuse and bullying of people from the countryside: Online abuse must stop NOW . This followed the submission of evidence the Alliance made to a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into online hate: Countryside Alliance reports Facebook page to Commons committee for failing to moderate “abusive and threatening” comments . In their submission, the Alliance drew attention to a Facebook page that was failing to moderate highly abusive comments that were being posted on its page, including death threats.

The response to the campaign has mostly been fantastic. Since being launched last Thursday the Thunderclap campaign has already achieved a social media reach of over 360,000, with ten more days to go until the Thunderclap is triggered.

Unfortunately, some of the response has further emphasised the need for a campaign against online bullying. Some activists have responded to the Alliance’s campaign against abuse by posting even more abuse and death threats. Responding to the Alliance’s submission of evidence to the Commons Online Hate Crime inquiry, one prominent page asked: “Please if everyone can stop putting death threats on here and abusive language”. However, in response to the Alliance’s anti-abuse Thunderclap campaign, the very same page posted comparing Alliance Chief Executive to Adolf Hitler and then failed to moderate a large number of abusive and threatening comments (including more death threats). One comment, still live on the page, reads:

“Now, realistically, give me a gun, and I will, not would, kill the first **** , I see in a red jacket, leading a hunt, on a horse, with baying hounds, with the only intention of hunting down a fox. That is the true effect it has on me personally. I am happy to say, these people are only safe, because I don’t have a gun.”

A spokesman for the Alliance, Tom Hunt said:

“The response of some online activists to our anti-abuse campaign simply shows why this Thunderclap is so important. It shows why everyone who stands against online bullying should support it. 

“It’s astonishing how anyone could believe that the appropriate response to a campaign aimed at exposing online hate is to react by dishing out more of the same. Now is the time for Facebook to take action and close down the pages that routinely fail to moderate, and often actively encourage, the publishing of extremely abusive and threatening comments on their pages.

“The good news is that we have been really heartened by the support that the campaign has received so far. Everyone who has signed is standing up to the bullies. We still have ten days to go and I would urge everyone who finds the comments and abuse we have highlighted repulsive to sign up to the campaign.”