The prevalence and impact of online trolling of UK members of parliament
Online trolling is a new phenomenon that is increasingly coming to public attention. Recent events in the United Kingdom (UK) have raised concerns about this behaviour. Trolling is particularly targeted at public figures, and Members of Parliament (MPs) are a prime target. In this study we surveyed UK MPs about their experiences and the impact of being trolled by completing a short online questionnaire. One-hundred and eighty-one MPs responded to our survey. Chi-square tests for independence and one-way ANOVA was employed to analyse the data. All MPs had experienced trolling and many were trolled multiple times a day, and the principle platforms for this abuse were Twitter and Facebook. The pattern of trolling varied between male and female targets, with males reporting more concern about reputational damage, and females more concern about their personal safety. The impact of being trolled varied between males and females, with a much greater impact on female MPs. We discuss the effects of online trolling on the victims of this behaviour.