Belfast Telegraph

'We do not allow targeted abuse and harassment': Twitter responds after online abuse of MLA

Social media giant Twitter has said it does "not allow targeted abuse and harassment", after a DUP MLA spoke out about the abuse she receives online.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a spokesman for Twitter said the content on its platform "often reflects the views that exist within society - both the good and the bad".

On Friday April 13 DUP leader Arlene Foster posted a picture with Carla Lockhart, the DUP MLA for Erne West.

After the picture was posted a number of Twitter users aimed personal abuse at Ms Lockhart and Mrs Foster, making abusive remarks about their appearances.

"The comments were very personal and very hurtful," Ms Lockhart told the BBC.

"I am used to political debate on Twitter and known as someone who would be very vocal but the level of abuse directed at myself and Arlene was totally unacceptable."

In its statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a spokesman for Twitter said: "We have launched more than 30 policy and product changes over the past 18 months, all with the aim of making our platform safer.

"Our challenge is a difficult one. The content on Twitter often reflects the views that exist within society - both the good and the bad.

"However, we do not allow targeted abuse and harassment. We regularly work with political parties and parliamentary authorities to raise awareness of our latest tools, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring that those working in public office can do so without fear of intimidation and threats."

After discussing the abuse received online, politicians from various parties gave their backing to Ms Lockhart's call for closer regulation of online activity and the verification of accounts.

Responding to Ms Lockhart on Twitter, Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd said: "The online abuse Carla has suffered is wrong and must stop immediately. I disagree with many aspects of Carla's politics but there is no excuse for the online personal abuse she has suffered."

Alliance party leader Naomi Long wrote: "Just appalling to target @carlalockhart and @DUPleader like this.

"We need @TwitterSupport to put a stop to misogynistic abuse on this platform."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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