Social media trolls who abuse MPs could be banned from standing for election

Posted On: 
29th July 2018

Online trolls who hammer political figures with vile abuse could be slapped with a ban from standing for election, the Government has announced.

MPs faced a barrage of abuse ahead of the general election last year
PA Images

Constitution Minister Chloe Smith said "talented people" were being held back from running for office by the scale of intimidation online.

And she said ministers would look at a crackdown on so-called fake news by forcing political material shared on the web to state clearly who is responsible for it.

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A report by MPs in 2017 said social media abuse had played a "significant factor" in the run up to the general election that year.

Ms Smith said the proposed measures - to be consulted on - would "protect voters, candidates and campaigners".

She said people should be able to "make their choice at the ballot box or stand for public service without fear of being victims of misinformation or abuse".

A study by BuzzFeed News and the University of Sheffield last year found male Tory candidates were hit with the highest percentage of abuse on Twitter in the runup to the 2017 election.

A separate analysis by Amnesty International found Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott received almost half of all abusive tweets sent to female MPs ahead of the vote.

Meanwhile, Labour MP Jess Phillips has said she once received 600 death and rape threats in a single day.

And Twitter trolls who targeted Labour figures Luciana Berger, Stella Creasy and Angela Eagle have been charged with abuse.

Lord Bew, chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said: “Intimidation presents a real threat to the integrity, diversity and vibrancy of our public life.

“People of all backgrounds should not be put off from standing for public office as a result of intimidatory behaviour.”