Compassion in Politics blog: Three-quarters of those experiencing online abuse say it comes from anonymous accounts

Polling commissioned by Compassion in Politics shows that 72% of people who have experienced online abuse believe they were targeted by anonymous or false accounts.

The research, carried out by Opinium with Compassion in Politics, also found that 1 in 3 (38%) have seen “fake news” posts or extremist content shared by anonymous accounts.

The findings come as parliament gets ready to debate the Online Safety Bill – a long-awaited piece of legislation that campaigners hope will significantly reduce the harm caused by abuse on social media sites.

Groups like Compassion in Politics and Clean Up The Internet, as well as MPs from across parliament, have been urging the government to include specific clauses in the Bill aimed at reducing the number and reach of anonymous social media accounts.

One of the favoured options would see all social media users given the option of creating a “verified” account – similar to the blue-tick system used by Twitter. Users would then be able to see which other users are and aren’t verified, and have the option of filtering out or blocking any user who has opted to be unverified.

This approach, it is argued, would ensure those who want an anonymous account – such as whistleblowers or people who need to protect their identity – would not be prevented from joining social media.

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