Melania Capitan, a prominent Spanish hunter who documented her movements and methods on social media platforms has been found dead after apparently committing suicide following a string of violent threats that targeted her online.

Miss Capitan, a young country sports pursuer was subject to ruthless and totally unacceptable threats on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram simply for sharing her passion with her followers; some of the milder comments suggested that Miss Capitan had “serviced humanity” and had “done nature a favour”, with some going as far to say that they hoped Miss Capitan had “[set] a trend” for young hunters to also take their own lives. This horrific wave of abuse has not gone unnoticed by the few, but the many, made up of social media platforms, have failed to protect their users by removing the content.

Despite clearly breaching the community standards set by Facebook, some comments have remained visible to all; disregarding the hurt and angst this will have caused Miss Capitan’s family and those who knew her. The Countryside Alliance utterly condemns these senseless attacks and in conjunction with its recent Thunderclap campaign has taken action to prevent these heinous words from online trolls being spread through channels of influence in the future:

  • The CA wrote to Facebook in March alerting them to particular abusive comments, urging them to reconsider and update their community standards so to be in accordance with new CPS guidelines published in the autumn.
  • Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper MP, was written to, and written evidence was submitted to the ‘Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online’ inquiry. This influenced the inquiry’s finding that “what is illegal offline is also illegal online”; however, pressure is still being applied to update social media platforms’ guidelines on what is deemed a credible threat so to recognise the potential global impact online trolls have.

Online abuse of rural communities and pursuers of country sports is a very pressing campaign, brought to the front page by a tragic event; it has never been more important for our members to use their influence to prevent future tragedies. The Countryside Alliance urges its members to:

  • Report all online abuse they come across using social media platforms’ built-in features. Especially on Twitter where the number of reports a tweet receives influences the response time of their safeguarding department.
  • Put pressure on government and local MPs to keep online abuse on the Parliamentary agenda with specific reference to the abuse of rural communities.