Nearly two-thirds of country sports enthusiasts have received online bullying or harassment, according to a new Countryside Alliance survey.
Extreme examples include poeple being threatened with death, had their addresses, pictures and car registration plates shared online, and had bad business reviews.
As a result, the Alliance has become increasingly concerned over the last couple of years about the rise of online abuse against the country sports community.
At the beginning of the summer they ran a survey which over 500 people responded to and showed that 62% of respondents had experienced online bullying or harassment for supporting country sports.
When asked: ‘If you have experienced online bullying or harassment, what format was it in?’, 57% answered comments in posts, 22% private messages, and 15% being tagged in posts.
When asked: ‘Have you changed your behaviour on social media as a result of bullying or harassment?’
49% said yes and 51% said now. This change of behaviour has predominately resulted in members blocking individuals (28%), engaging less with posts (27%), not uploading pictures (27%) and posting less (26%).
When asked: ‘From your personal experience do you believe online bullying or harassment has got worse over the last year?’, 78% said yes and 22% said no.
Sadly, 89% of businesses that responded said they had received online abuse. Of them 77% received it in the form of comments on posts, 35% had received private messages, 26% had been tagged in posts and 33% had received negative reviews.
As a result, 73% of businesses have changed their behaviour online as a result of online bullying.
Countryside Alliance head of policy, Sarah Lee, said: ‘The online bullying of rural communities who support country sports continues to grow year on year and has become more aggressive and antagonistic.
‘When we first raised the issue last year we asked social media platforms to take action and to understand the serious nature of animal rights extremists online, we were met with platitudes that they take all forms of bullying seriously, yet our survey results tell a different story.
‘The Government and social media platforms need to act now to reassure country sports supporters that content on platforms is policed properly and all forms of abuse are taken seriously no matter which community is targeted. We will once again write to Facebook and Twitter asking for a meeting and demand that they take this kind of abuse seriously.’
Click HERE to read the Alliance’s guide.