Ex-Love Islander Says Government Should Be Doing More To Promote Positive Image Of Influencers
Amy Hart was a flight attendant prior to appearing on Love Island in 2019 (Alamy)
Exclusive: Amy Hart — who appeared on Love Island in 2019 — told PoliticsHome she wants ministers to do more to support the work of online influencers whilst also cracking down on abuse.
The 29-year-old social media star made the comments ahead of her appearance in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee on Tuesday, where she will give evidence on influencer culture.
Hart has spoken openly about the abuse she faced after appearing on the hit ITV reality show three years ago, which her family described at the time as “completely off the scale and extremely upsetting”.
She told PoliticsHome that she supports requiring identification to open social media accounts in a bid to tackle online abuse, and said that perpetrators should face hefty fines.
And she added that the government should be doing more to support and promote influencers as having viable careers in a bid to stem some of the abuse they recieve.
“[The government] should be working with influencers and encouraging the media to be more positive, and just show what good can be done,” she told PoliticsHome.
“It's part of the advertising sector, I think people need to realise that.”
It comes after fellow influencer Em Sheldon told the DCMS committee in July that much of the abuse she experienced was related to her paid-for posts.
“I think it is the money. They all say the same thing, “I liked her,” but they don’t like that people are making money,” Sheldon said earlier this year.
“In what other industry would you be attacked for making money and making a living? I feel it is one of those careers where they like you until you start to do well. Maybe, do well but don’t do too well.
“Unfortunately, there is a whole dark space of the internet where people sit all day, every day, writing about us. It is crazy, because these are grown women with children. These are not 15-year-old girls.”
Hart also called for social media companies to do more to help influencers work on their platforms, and said she backed creating a subscription service on apps like Instagram for those using it as their business.
“I think that you should have to pay for Instagram. I understand that graphic designers have to pay to use Photoshop and accountants have to pay to use QuickBooks,” she continued.
“I'd be happy to pay in relation to how many followers I have to use Instagram, like a monthly fee, if it means that we can have a fair algorithm.”
“Instagram is sort of stopping people from carving out a career, and the government should put pressure on the companies to help [influencers]. Obviously it's a two way street and we need to help you back.”
The ex-Love Island went on to warn that the abuse facing reality TV stars was getting worse, but stopped short of blaming the shows that hosted them, adding: “People should be held accountable for trolling.”
“The younger generation now, they just think it's really normal to be nasty. It's awful,” Hart continued.
“I think the audience needs to realise they're watching a structured reality. It's called structured reality for a reason.
“They are real people at the end of the day. You know you put yourself in the firing line if you have signed up for a TV show, but there's no excuse for abuse.”
She added: “Like Rio Ferdinand said the other day, if people get away with it online, they think it's fine to go into school and say it to other people face to face.”
Former England and Manchester United defender Ferdinand appeared before MPs last week to give evidence to a committee tasked with reviewing the Online Safety Bill.
He said that social media companies should do more to address how easy it is for abuse to be shared on their platforms, and revealed he’d had to “explain to his children over breakfast what the monkey emoji means in that context”.
“For me having to do that when there’s AI and resources available for these companies to be able to deal with these situations so that I as a parent don’t have to go down this road and explain that,” he told MPs.
“You’d like to think that those people would put those things in place.”
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