The Countryside Alliance has launched an innovative new portal for people to report evidence of online abuse.

The Countryside Alliance strongly condemns online bullying of any kind and has long campaigned to raise awareness of the issue. The Alliance has become increasingly concerned over the last couple of years about the rise of online abuse against the country sports community.

Earlier this year the Alliance surveyed its members’ and supporters to identify the true extent of online bullying directed at rural communities. Over 500 people responded, 62% of whom had experienced online bullying or harassment for supporting country sports. The results showed that the online bullying of rural communities continues to grow year on year and has become more aggressive and antagonistic. The results of this survey can be found here.

In response to these shocking results, the Alliance has launched a dedicated portal where those who receive online abuse for supporting country sports can send their evidence, including details of the incident, screenshots and any response received from the social media platform. The information provided will power the next phase of the Alliance’s campaign, helping demonstrate the scale of the problem to Parliamentarians and lobby social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to do more to stop the abuse of rural communities.

Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, said: “The online bullying of rural communities who support country sports continues to grow year on year. Everyone should feel safe when using social media and appropriate protections should be in place to prevent attacks designed to intimidate and silence. This new online portal will help us to collect the necessary evidence to take our campaign forward. The Government and social media platforms need to act now to reassure country sports supporters that content on platforms is policed properly and all forms of abuse are taken seriously no matter which community is targeted.”

ENDS…

Notes to editors:

What to do if you are being abused online:

  1. Don’t respond to and don’t forward any abusive messages.
  2. Take screen shots of the online abuse so that you have proof this is happening.
  3. Report all abuse to the relevant social media networks by clicking on the “report abuse” button.
  4. Block the person who is bullying.
  5. Report the online abuse to the police if there are threats of violence or harassment. If the bullying or harassment is targeted at you because of your disability, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation, this type of incident is a ‘hate incident’ or ‘hate crime’. To report online abuse you must report it by phoning 101 and ask to speak to a police officer. For the police to take any action you must be prepared to give evidence. The police will take your details and if it meets the threshold they will investigate.