SDLP Mental Health Spokesperson Cara Hunter has marked World Social Media Day by reminding people that what they say and do online does have an impact.
Ms Hunter has spoken out in the past about the challenges she has faced as a young woman in politics, including receiving threatening and misogynistic posts and messages on social media.
The East Derry MLA said:
“When you become a politician, you understand you are putting yourself in the public eye and opening yourself up to criticism. However, that in no way justifies the amount of personal abuse politicians receive on social media platforms. Young women in particular seem to be targeted by the faceless trolls that populate every major platform and these incidents do nothing to encourage them to get involved in public life.
“While there are many positive aspects of social media, the pandemic showed us how we could stay in close contact with loved ones even when we couldn’t meet, people need to understand the impact social media abuse has on its victims and the potential consequences for anyone engaging in such behaviour.
“I would appeal to social media companies to set up a tough online verification process so that users can no longer hide behind anonymous accounts to target people with vile abuse. I want to see people allowed to engage and debate in a safe and secure manner, with serious action taken against those who step over the line."