Love Island’s Amy Hart: social media sites not supportive enough over trolling

14 September 2021, 16:34

Former Love Island contest Amy Hart speaking at the inquiry
DCMS committee inquiry into influencer culture. Picture: PA

The former air stewardess appeared before the DCMS Committee during its inquiry into influencer culture.

Former Love Island contestant Amy Hart said she has stopped reporting abusive comments to social media companies because she does not believe anything will be done.

The 29-year-old, a former air stewardess with British Airways, told an inquiry into influencer culture she did not believe sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were supportive enough when it came to trolling.

Appearing in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Hart recounted the abuse she regularly receives online and said she was surprised many of the abusive private messages sent to her did not breach the sites’ community guidelines.

She said: “I am desensitised but I would say that the (social media) networks are not supportive enough when it comes to trolling.

“I have reported some messages before and they come back saying, ‘We have looked at it and it doesn’t break community guidelines’ and I am like, ‘Look at that message!’

“Look at this barrage of messages someone has sent me before 7 o’clock in the morning telling me how much they hate me, how awful I am, why everyone hates me, how ugly I am.

“From a fake account as well, a trolling account, a burner account, and you are telling me that doesn’t break policy?”

Hart said she was getting trolled by people who said they are nurses and “people that have got husbands and children” and one death threat had been traced back to a 13-year-old.

She added: “I delete things, but you see those messages and actually I have probably stopped reporting them now because I know there is no point.

“Because the time it takes me the process of doing: ‘Why are you reporting this message?’ and then it comes back a few hours later with a notification that says, ‘We have checked it and it doesn’t break community guidelines’.”

Hart also dismissed the idea being an influencer was not a legitimate profession, telling the inquiry: “I used to think it wasn’t a proper job either and it really, really is.”

DCMS committee inquiry into influencer culture
Creater Union founder Nicole Ocran (House of Commons/PA)

She said she would be willing to pay to use the social media networks “in exchange for a fairer algorithm”, suggesting posts tagged as advertisements were seen by less followers.

Hart also called for a standardised pricing structure based on how many followers an influencer has and their engagement that would dictate their work with brands

She appeared alongside Nicole Ocran, a blogger and co-founder of The Creator Union, which advocates for digital creators.

Ocran told the inquiry her union had reached out to social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but had only received a response from image sharing site Pinterest.

Speaking about trolling, she said: “From our perspective the platforms do not move fast enough – the don’t move at all.”

A spokeswoman for Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, said: “We understand how upsetting it is for Amy to receive hurtful comments and we don’t want this to happen on Instagram or Facebook.

“We have strict guidelines against bullying and harassment and have introduced a number of safety tools including Limits, which prevents comments and DMs from people who don’t follow you for a period of time, and Hidden Words, which allows you to filter abusive words, phrases and emojis from your comments and DMs, so you never have to see them.

“We’ll continue to work with partners, including ITV, and the wider industry to help protect people from abuse.”

On Twitter, users may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so, and the site can limit the ability to post or suspend an account temporarily or permanently.

Instagram and Facebook both set out rules on “violating messages” which can be enforced through messaging restrictions and disabling accounts.

By Press Association

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