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Abuse drives 1 in 5 girls to abandon social media sites

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Girls are afraid of trolls

Girls are afraid of trolls

Girls are afraid of trolls

Online abuse is driving girls to quit social media platforms, with nearly 60pc experiencing harassment, a study has shown.

One in five girls and young women have abandoned or cut down on social media after being targeted, with some saying harassment started when they were as young as eight, the survey by Plan International showed.

"Girls are being silenced by a toxic level of harassment," said the chief executive of the girl's rights group, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen.

Attacks were most common on Facebook, where 39pc of girls polled said they had been harassed, followed by Instagram at 23pc, WhatsApp at 14pc, Snapchat at 10pc, Twitter at 9pc and TikTok at 6pc.

The charity said the abuse was suppressing girls' voices when the Covid-19 pandemic was increasing the importance of communicating online.

Laws

It called on social media companies to take urgent action to address the issue and urged governments to pass laws to deal with online harassment.

Nearly half of girls targeted had been threatened with physical or sexual violence, according to the poll. Many said the abuse took a mental toll and a quarter felt physically unsafe.