The Guardian

Love Island star received death threat from 13-year-old

- Mark Brown Arts correspond­ent

A former Love Island contestant, Amy Hart, has said her online abusers are often married people with children or people in jobs such as nursing, and that she received a death threat from a 13-year-old.

Hart, who was giving evidence yesterday to a committee of MPs investigat­ing influencer culture, said she had 3,000 Instagram followers before she appeared on the ITV reality programme. When she left, she had 1.1 million. “That was quite life-changing: suddenly going from nobody knowing what you were doing to everybody knowing what you were doing,” she said.

Hart said she would rather lose followers by being open about what she believed in and cared about than being impartial.

“I do get backlash when I talk about things, and I will say the [social media] networks are not supportive enough when it comes to trolling.”

She told the MPs she reported abusive comments and had been told they did not breach community guidelines. “You look at this barrage of messages someone has sent me before 7am about how much they hate me, how awful I am, how everyone hates me, how ugly I am … from a fake account as well. You’re telling me that doesn’t break the policy?”

Hart said she sometimes dug deeper into abuse from real accounts and went to Facebook pages. “I was getting trolled by nurses and people that have got husbands and children.

I think, ‘Do you go to dinner parties and tell your friends that you’re trolling random 29-year-old girls that you don’t know?’”

Trolls were often middle-aged women, Hart said, while “some of the most awful messages I’ve had” came from schoolchil­dren.

“One of my death threats was traced back to a 13-year-old. You think, if that’s them at 13 … what are they going to do when they are 18?”

Hart said companies such as Instagram should insist on users providing identifica­tion informatio­n.

dence in social networks when it came to dealing with trolling. “I’ve probably stopped reporting them now because I know there is no point,” she said.

Hart was backed by the Scottish National party MP John Nicolson, who said he had reported abuse on Twitter and been told it “did not violate our community standards”.

The digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee is investigat­ing the culture of influencer­s: people who have power to alter people’s buying habits via social media and are often paid by brands to do so. Its remit includes examining the absence of any regulation.

Last week the footballer Rio Ferdinand spoke powerfully at a joint committee of peers and MPs scrutinisi­ng a draft online safety bill. He said he had seen members of his family “disintegra­te” over the level of online abuse he suffered.

Under the draft proposals, social media companies will have a duty of care to protect users from harmful content, including racist comments.

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: HOUSE OF COMMONS/PA ?? ▲The reality TV star Amy Hart addressing MPs
PHOTOGRAPH: HOUSE OF COMMONS/PA ▲The reality TV star Amy Hart addressing MPs

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