The Countryside Alliance has been concerned over the last couple of years about the rise of online abuse against the country sports community. The Alliance is not against robust debate but when that descends into death threats, posting peoples home addresses online, and leaving false bad reviews for businesses we wanted to understand how big the problem was. At the beginning of the summer we ran a survey which over 500 people responded to and showed that 62% of respondees had experienced online bullying or harassment for supporting country sports. This was covered in the Daily Telegraph and you can read it here.
The survey highlighted that the online bullying of rural communities who support country sports continues to grow year on year and has become more aggressive and antagonistic. When we first raised the issue last year we asked social media platforms to take action and to understand the serious nature of animal rights extremists online, we were met with platitudes that they take all forms of bullying seriously, yet our survey results tell a different story. 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. We will once again write to Facebook and Twitter asking for a meeting and demand that they take this kind of abuse seriously.
What to do if you are being abused online:
- Don’t respond to and don’t forward any abusive messages.
- Take screen shots of the online abuse so that you have proof this is happening.
- Report all abuse to the relevant social media networks by clicking on the “report abuse” button.
- Block the person who is bullying.
- 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.
Please share any screen shots of the online abuse to [email protected]