The makers of UK’s only abuse-proof social network believe that better protection for public figures from online abuse will only be possible if social media firms make it impossible for users to send abusive messages.
The call – made by the creators of Rate Your Leader, a free app which connects MPs and councillors and the people they serve on an abuse-proof social network- comes in the wake of the online “Be Kind” movement against online abuse inspired by the tragic death of TV presenter Caroline Flack.
The app has previously shown how frequently elected representatives are tormented by trolls on other social networks with research showing that 72% of councillors have received personal insults on social media, with almost one in ten receiving digital death threats.
Online abuse suffered by local councillors has risen by 500% in just two years, and almost 200 complaints relating to candidate safety were received during the 2019 General Election – the majority of which related to malicious online communications.
Following the Death of the Love Island star, Downing Street has called upon social media firms to crack down on harassment and abuse with a spokesperson for the Prime Minister stating “The industry must continue their efforts to have robust processes in place, removing content breaching their acceptable use policies”.
Free app Rate Your Leader was created by the Digital Democracy project bridge the gulf between people and their elected representatives with phones and other handheld devices – whilst blocking malicious or offensive communication in a way that other social media platforms do not.
The abuse-proof Rate Your Leader app confirmed voters in specific electoral divisions to communicate directly with the elected representatives, as well as rating them for responsiveness.
App founder Joel Popoola echoed the government’s call for social media firms to do more to keep users safe:
“Social media giants continue to allow people to uses their platforms to bully, harass, intimidate and threaten prominent people with impunity, and they get away with it because people keep using them. Their bottom line is their bottom line – not user safety or wellbeing.
“My fear is that this won’t be the last time we find ourselves talking about a horrific incident like this, and given the sheer scale of abuse that politicians of all levels suffer whilst trying to interact with the people they represent using social media platforms, it seems likely that politics could be where this kind of tragedy strikes next.
“The industry needs to do more, and if it doesn’t do more, users need to take a stand and only use apps which don’t allow this kind of abuse and which have user safety and kind communication at their core.”
The Rate Your Leader app is available from the Apple and Google Marketplaces. The app has a five star rating on the Google market, with one reviewer writing “This is the new level of politics…better communication of leaders with the electorates and accountability”.
An ever-increasing number of MPs, councillors and Police & Crime Commissioners have already taken advantage of the free democracy app to stay in touch with the people who elect them and to get their message out to confirmed voters in their constituencies, helping them truly understand what matters most to the people who elect them