Maria Bailey: Social media abuse ‘exceptionally stressful and isolating’

Maria Bailey: Social Media Abuse ‘Exceptionally Stressful And Isolating’
Ms Bailey spoke of the abuse she suffered following her controversial claim against a Dublin hotel for a fall from a swing. Photo: PA Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

Former Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey has said she welcomes proposed legislation to regulate social media platforms.

Ms Bailey told Newstalk Breakfast of the abuse she suffered following her controversial claim against a Dublin hotel for a fall from a swing.


“I was at the epicentre of persistent abuse over the course of approximately nine months and that just takes a toll on anybody, whether that's myself directly or the people around me, by abuse, ridicule, intimidation and it was exceptionally stressful and isolating,” she said.

“You find that you're in the middle of a pile on and you're a lone voice in a very loud pile of abuse and the volume is so loud that the truth and facts can't be heard or don't want to be heard.”


Ms Bailey said that the abuse she suffered was in relation to documents which were made public without her consent. “I was silenced in fear and I'm not anymore.”

At the peak of the online abuse, she said that her father was in the final stages of motor neurone disease. On the weekend of his death, people were arriving at her door, she said, despite an appeal to media organisations to respect her privacy.


Ms Bailey said that the abuse suffered by women online is different from that experienced by men. “It is of a more personal or sexual nature and that can be really hard.”

People’s opinions and criticism were part and parcel of politics, she acknowledged. “But when it’s something in your private life and when the full facts haven't been put out there, nor should they be, that pile on is too much," she said.

Supports were available, people needed to know that they were not alone, she added.

Reform in regulation

Ms Bailey said she was hoping to see reform in how social media platforms were regulated when it came to abusive comments online.


“I'm delighted to see this Bill going through the Oireachtas at the minute and finally there will be compliance and regulation that will be put in place and these online platforms will no longer be self-regulatory, that there will be an online safety commissioner involved and there will be recourse,” she added.

“What we do have is false accounts as well as people with real accounts and the recourse can be very limited there.”

An Online Commission would be a move in the right direction, she said.

“It won't be a catch-all because once something goes online the damage is done, but at least now there will be someone looking at the content and these online platforms will come under regulation and I think that's really important.”

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