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TV | Online Abuse in the spotlight in the next UTV ‘UP CLOSE’

‘It’s like the Wild West - it’s a free for all’ – Mandy Chisum

The next episode of UTV’s award winning current affairs programme ‘Up Close’ investigates the devastating consequences of online abuse and asks if enough is being done to tackle the problem.

Presented by UTV’s Jordan Moates, the hour-long programme speaks to those who’ve been directly affected by trolling, finds out what young people today feel about social media platforms; with mental health and cyber security experts urging social media companies to invest more to ensure people stay safe online.

The programme opens with a report focusing on local public representatives, how they have been abused online and how they have dealt with it. Diane Dodds MLA tells of a recent tweet mocking the death of her son, and how that affected her.

Health Minister Robin Swann also talks about the threats made to him and his family, while Cara Hunter MLA talks to Jordan about living with misogynistic abuse. She explains how social media is a vital tool to keep in touch with her constituents’ concerns, but states the abuse “should not be an acceptable part of public life.”

In a separate report Jordan also interviews Mandy Chisum, mum of 16-year-old Elle Trowbridge from Omagh who died by suicide in 2017, as a result of cyber bullying. She comments, “It’s like the Wild West, it’s a free for all.”

She now raises awareness in schools and campaigns for social media companies to do more.

In his final interview, Jordan speaks to one young woman, Anita Dennison who has been the victim of online abuse but now is an anti-bullying campaigner. She talks about being tormented on a daily basis, and wondering who she could trust. She’s calling for social media companies to do more to verify people’s identities.

Pupils from Ashfield Girls School tell the programme about their social media experiences, with some feeling that the ‘report button’ doesn’t work and that the companies could be doing more.

During the programme, Jordan will discuss the issues in the studio with former Nato intelligence officer Philip Ingram; cyber security expert Wayne Denner; NI Mental Health Champion Prof Siobhan O'Neill; PSNI Chief Inspector Joanne Gibson; and journalist and commentator Allison Morris.

Jordan said, “Online abuse in some form is almost accepted now as normal in today’s social media landscape. A few recent high profile incidents prompted us to take a deep dive and properly examine how damaging trolling can be. Thank you to everyone who took part, especially those who talked so openly to us about their experiences. And while the social media companies have outlined the measures users can take to protect themselves, the overwhelming feeling is that more could be done.”

Up Close – Online Abuse’ will air tomorrow night Thursday 17th February at 10.45pm on UTV.


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