Presenter tells of 'troll' abuse
Former Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon has revealed how he has been targeted by abusive internet "trolls", in a bid to highlight the growing problem of cyber bullying.
Bacon, now a BBC Radio Five Live presenter, has suffered nearly two years of anonymous online abuse directed not only at him, but also his wife and baby son.
The experience has prompted the 36-year-old to make a complaint to the police, he said.
The presenter has also tried to turn the tables on the trolls and highlight the issue of internet bullying.
In a documentary, The Anti-Social Network, to be screened on BBC Three on Monday night, Bacon tried to track down his abuser and also met bereaved relatives left distraught after they were preyed on by "RIP Trolls" posting offensive messages on tribute sites.
"It's definitely growing and it's definitely getting worse," he said. "You have got to try and work out where critical comment crosses over into harassment. Under freedom of speech people can criticise you and slag you off, it's their right to do that. It's when it becomes deeply personal, obsessive and weird."
He said the line was crossed for him when criticism of his radio show turned into abuse involving his mother and wife, as well as his five-month-old son Arthur.
Bacon originally wanted to try to meet the troll who was targeting him, but had been advised to take it to the police. "I wanted to know how a dislike of a radio station could go to contacting my family and tweeting about my baby," he said. "But the advice I got from a psychologist and a police officer was to make an official complaint, so I'm in the process right now of making a complaint to the police."
During the programme Bacon met families who had been targeted by trolls in cases he said were far more distressing than what he had been through. "What I have been through isn't that bad really, it's been distressing for my family but personally as a broadcaster it's something I know how to deal with. What's really heartbreaking is the parents and families of people who have killed themselves."
He met the parents of Tom Mullaney, 15, from Bournville, Birmingham, who apparently killed himself after being bullied online. A tribute site for him was hit by trolls, leaving vulgar messages that were seen by his family and friends. "They see these nice tributes then they also see these weird sexual, violent comment and imagery," he said. "For people who don't even understand Facebook in the first place, as well as being upsetting and prolonging their grief, it's confusing."