Social media trolls: ‘If you don’t like me, there is an off button’!

TV presenter Caroline Flack's death has made us all think more carefully about social media, says Ma

TV presenter Caroline Flack's death has made us all think more carefully about social media, says Mark Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Matt Crossick - Credit: PA

BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy has dealt with his fair share of trolls. He says it’s largely water off a duck’s back but still an unnecessary unpleasantness

I'm getting sick to the back teeth of people being abusive and nasty to other people on social media.

I know it's been happening for some time but it's been thrown into sharp focus this week following Caroline Flack's tragic death.

The trolling she had to endure has been appalling and it's not just her, it's happening every minute of every day to somebody.

Bullying has been around since time immemorial but now it seems worse than ever and all pervading.

You might say people shouldn't go on social media but why shouldn't they?

These places should be a safe environment for us to post what's happening in our lives and to join in with healthy debate.

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They shouldn't be a place for anonymous trolls to bully people.

They're called keyboard warriors but rather more appropriately dubbed by one of my callers to my BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show this week, keyboard cowards.

I get trolled sometimes because I'm on the radio people think I'm fair game. If people don't like me or my radio show, there is an off button. If you don't like what I post then don't follow me or friend me. It's quite simple, there's no need to abuse me.

It doesn't happen very often, to me it's mostly water of a ducks back but now and again someone catches me at a weak moment and I'm only human. You can have lots of lovely appreciative comments but it's the negative one you remember.

I was always told by my mum to stand up to bullies and she used to say "If you haven't got anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything" How right she was but sadly and in some cases tragically people don't live by that mantra.

It's our younger generations I worry about most, they live their lives on-line and where once bullies only had access to you in person, now they can get at you in the supposed safety of your own home.

I think it's up to all of us to set a good example and to report abuse when we see it. Facebook and Twitter have reporting tools which in my experience aren't as good as they should be. I've flagged offensive stuff up before only for it to be deemed OK.

Some Facebook groups are better than others for moderating. These groups are often run by volunteers and some are quick to clamp down on anything untoward and others positively encourage the opposite!

I do think the time has come for tighter regulation of the social media companies. Working for the BBC I have very strict producer guidelines that I have to stick to rigidly.

Perhaps everyone who signs up for these pages should provide accurate details of themselves to ensure they are who they say they are. Hiding behind a keyboard anonymously must become a thing of the past and people must be held accountable for their actions.

Perhaps the government ought to be trying to sort these issues out sooner rather than later. I've been made aware of a case locally this week where someone received the most appalling abuse and it has got to stop.

So be nice, don't say anything nasty about people and report anything you are not happy with. The keyboard cowards can't be allowed to win.

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