Why Facebook trolling of Love Island's Amy Hart exposes the sad reality of social media

Worthing Herald reporter James Butler with Amy Hart
Worthing Herald reporter James Butler with Amy Hart

After a busy few weeks of television appearances and magazine covers, Love Island contestant Amy Hart invited me to her home for the first interview with her local paper since leaving the ITV2 show.

And the first thing she wanted to talk about when she walked into her kitchen to meet me was online trolls: people who repeatedly post negative or inflammatory comments on Facebook, with the aim of annoying others.

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Despite all the national media attention she has received, both good and bad, the 27-year-old was particularly bothered by the negative response she had received on the Herald’s Facebook page.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the backlash on a story about her supporting Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, with comments ranging from ‘why should we care?’ to accusing her of using the charity to boost her profile.

As a local woman appearing on one of the country’s biggest TV shows, this was a newsworthy story that we covered in depth – and our readers could not get enough, with articles about Amy’s exploits topping the daily leaderboards of the most-read stories. Even after leaving the villa, her journey has continued to engage readers – so we have continued to report on it.

However, there was a vocal minority who decided from the outset that this was not newsworthy because they did not like the show – and they were not shy about voicing their opinions.

Sadly, Facebook is now a Wild West when it comes to trolls; all it takes is one negative comment and they multiply like weeds.

We have faced criticism ourselves for not deleting negative comments, or banning the authors who post them. But that does not mean we are endorsing them. Where a comment incites hatred, uses foul language, is abusive or breaks the law, we will delete it and make a decision about whether to ban the author.

Trolls are like playground bullies: respond to them, and you are giving them what they want.