Council Deputy Leader ‘appalled’ at online abuse aimed at councillors
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
The Deputy Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council has said he is “appalled” at the online abuse aimed at councillors.
Labour councillor Jamie Pritchard has specifically called out the level of trolling aimed at the council’s leader, Cllr Philippa Marsden.
Cllr Pritchard said: “On social media the leader has been called vile, her age has been commented on, the way she poses for pictures, and even her choice of sunglasses.”
The murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess on October 15 has highlighted the increasing number of threats and abuse MPs and public figures face daily.
Women in political or public roles are particularly targeted by online trolls.
Cllr Pritchard has urged his fellow councillors to call out and report abuse they themselves or others receive on social media.
Cllr Pritchard added: “In light of recent tragic events, the language and actions need to be toned down for everybody’s sake. Any fair minded person would agree, and keeping silent on this abuse, regardless of whether it is politically convenient for some to do so, should not be an excuse.”
The Welsh Local Government Association has advice on its website for councillors on dealing with online abuse. It reads: “Social media has become a powerful tool for councillors, helping them to engage with communities, raise awareness of community issues, events, or council initiatives and to seek views and receive feedback.
“Social media however has its darker side; online abuse and bullying or trolling has reached record levels and politicians, particularly women, are often the target of unacceptable, unpleasant and, sometimes, threatening online abuse.”
Councillors are able to contact their Democratic Services officer at the council to ask for guidance or training when it comes to handling abusive messages.
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