Eddie Izzard, Sadiq Khan and more urge people to stop engaging with online trolls

Politicians, television personalities and other celebs have joined forces in a bid to stamp out online abuse and hate speech.

The coalition of high-profile figures, including London mayor Sadiq Khan and comedian Eddie Izzard, joined forces to encourage others not to respond to online bigotry, which they say only serves to help trolls gain more followers.

They are arguing that those in the public eye have a duty to act responsibly on social media because they have large audience, which means engaging with trolls can spread fringe ideas to a much larger number of people than these individuals would normally be able to reach.

Coalition of high-profile individuals come together as new report on online hate is published.

The coalition of high-profile figures joined forces as part of a new report advising people on how to deal with online trolls. (DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

Other individuals in the coalition include former England footballer Gary Lineker; comedian Aisling Bea; Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden; Countdown‘s Rachel Riley; and anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali.

The call comes as part of the launch of a new guide for victims of online abuse, titled Don’t Feed The Trolls, by the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Speaking about the campaign, Khan said: “I’ve seen first-hand the online hate when social media is hijacked by hateful and cynical users who usually hide behind anonymous accounts.

“All of us who use social media have tremendous power in what we give our attention to and how we react to social media conversations.

“By ignoring, muting or blocking the trolls we can deny them the reactions they seek, while government and social media companies must up their game to ensure it is a safe space for people to exchange ideas.”

The group also includes former home secretary Alan Johnson; MP Margot James; The Apprentice’s Nick Hewer; Kim Leadbeater, an ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation; and television presenter Richard Osman.

All of us who use social media have tremendous power in what we give our attention to and how we react to social media conversations.

Advice from the Center for Countering Digital Hate report includes telling victims to not engage with hate and to block troll accounts.

Engaging with online trolls only gives bigots more attention, says report.

It also advises recipients of trolling to turn off notifications on their phones when they are being targeted and take a break from social media for a few hours to help with their mental wellbeing.

In cases where victims believe the abuse may be unlawful, the report states that they should screenshot the messages and report it to the social media platform, as well as police or their lawyers.

“It is perfectly natural for a victim of trolling to want to defend their reputations and values,” said the report’s authors Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and psychologist Linda Papadopolous.

“But it is precisely this instinct that trolls exploit to keep victims engaged and to amplify their hate.

“Public figures with large social media followings, whether they’re politicians, journalists, or celebrities, need to know they are being targeted on purpose and that the sweetest revenge against hate trolls is to block and ignore them.

“This is not a game of who is in the right. Trolls are playing a different game altogether.”