Sarah Jessica Parker scrolls through Twitter with one eye closed [Getty]
Since launching her wonderous shoe line, Sarah Jessica Parker has become a social media stalwart, most brilliantly sharing endless footwear snaps on her Instagram account. It also means she's become faced with Twitter trolling.
The 49-year-old admits that she's forced to scroll through Twitter 'with one eyed closed' because of the nasty comments. 'I see mean stuff every day,' she tells The Edit. Although she tends to ignore most of them, SJP confesses that there was one tormenting tweet that was particularly upsetting. It came from Sarah J. Symonds, a self-described 'relationship expert' who suggested SJP isn't her daughters' biological mother because they were carried by a surrogate.
'That particular day, it was just one of the things I saw. I kept scrolling and then I was like, 'Wait a minute, did she just say that?' I went back and I thought, 'Well, this isn't unhealthy paranoia, this is absolutely conscious. This was a choice. She, not subtly at all, said that my children are not my children,'' she reveals. The actress has four-year-old twin girls with husband Matthew Broderick as well as son James.
SJP looks dreamy in the latest issue [The Edit]
Unlike many celebrities, SJP consciously makes an effort to keep her family out of the spotlight, but even though she doesn't court publicity, it seems she still can't avoid cyber bullying. 'What is it about me?' she asks. 'I am not somebody who shows off her good fortune; I don't travel with bodyguards, I don't live a very glamorous life - I am afraid of all that. I don't talk about my marriage; I am circumspect about my children.'
So what drives people to make such horrific comments online – things they would never dare say out loud? ‘Many people lose their normal self-restraint once they feel anonymous and remote from others’, Dr Emma Short from the University of Bedfordshire told Grazia. ‘Trolls themselves often have too much free time, and are often lonely people and seeking attention.’ So, it raises the question: when will the trolls stop… and what is Twitter doing to stop the abuse?
Twitter says it reserves the right to take down the accounts of people who use them abusively. However, some users who’ve faced abuse claim this doesn’t happen. ‘What's encouraging is men and women alike have roundly condemned what happened to Beth Tweddle [who faced a barrage of vile misogynist abuse] and expressed their anger and disgust’, says Laura. ‘This kind of public reaction sends a strong, unequivocal message - it's 2014 and it's simply no longer acceptable to abuse and threaten women in this way.’
So what can you do if you’re trolled? Laura Higgens from Safer Internet says:
1. ‘Evidence is essential. Get screenshots. It may be distressing to re-read them, but if there is going to be an investigation the police will need them.
2. Don’t “feed the trolls”. Some people retaliate by retweeting or replying but this makes it very difficult to deal with and often makes things worse. Report and block the user. Trolls are trying to offend and get a reaction. Don’t give them one.’
3. Sites can only act on information they have. They can’t moderate every post, status or comment, they need the community (you!) to let them know when someone steps out of line.