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Editor reveals 1,500 readers banned over ‘hateful and racist’ comments

Jenna Thompson 1An editor has revealed more than 1,500 readers have been banned from her news website’s Facebook page over “hateful and outright racist” comments.

Jenna Thompson, digital editor at Hull Live, has called for readers’ help to tackle online abuse after taking action following coverage of recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Jenna, pictured, has pledged to report such comments to the police and publish the names of “proven offenders” online and in sister daily the Hull Daily Mail in a bid to combat the problem.

A number of other editors across the industry have also pledged to take similar action in recent weeks.

In an editorial, Jenna wrote: “On the day the first Black Lives Matter demonstration was held in Queen Victoria Square, we were proud of how people in the city came together to stand up against injustice.

“Pictures of people in Hull clearly standing two metres apart while peacefully protesting spread across the world.

“At the same time, we saw an increase in hateful and outright racist comments on our Facebook page. We deleted hundreds of comments from our live stream on Facebook and subsequent stories we posted. More than 100 people were banned from the page (over 1,400 had been banned already).

“This happened again the following week. More than 1,000 comments were deleted and another 100 people banned.

“At the end of that day, we took the unusual step of deleting all posts about Black Lives Matter from our Facebook page because there would be eight hours where someone would not be able to check them (11pm to 7am) and we felt it was too risky.”

Jenna said the action had led to Hull Live being criticised for “censoring” readers and “taking away their right to free speech,” but she added: “Free speech does not include hate speech. And it doesn’t include the right to abuse or harass people.

“Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow pages like ours to turn off comments – a simple solution which would eradicate the issue,” she said.

“We don’t want to not be able to post news on our Facebook page. That would mean that loud minority we mentioned would spoil things for the majority of people who read our stories and either write constructive comments or never comment at all.

“And this is why we need your help. We will check the comments as much as we possibly can, but we also know it’s not possible to catch them all. If you do see a comment on our Facebook page which is offensive or is hate speech, please message us. We will take action.

“We are not expecting miracles – we know there are people out there intending to upset and offend others, no matter what. But with your support, we can make our corner of the internet a better place.”

Earlier this year Jenna spoke out on online abuse and bullying, saying it had made journalists she works with “reluctant” to look at social media.