BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says she no longer looks at people’s comments on Twitter and considered coming off social media altogether because the atmosphere on it is “so grim”.
Talking to author and former Times assistant editor Tom Baldwin for his new book Ctrl Alt Delete, Kuenssberg said: “I’ve tried to pull back [from social media] and I’ve thought about coming off it all together.
“Partly, that’s because it’s uglier out there now – it’s like a playground where people want to shout each other down.
How have your newspaper consumption habits changed during the pandemic/lockdown, and do you think this will last?
- I read more news digitally than in print now, and expect this to continue (48%, 179 Votes)
- No change (29%, 107 Votes)
- I read more news in print than digitally now, and expect this to continue (14%, 52 Votes)
- I read more news digitally than in print now, but do not expect this to continue (6%, 24 Votes)
- I read more news in print than digitally now, but do not expect this to continue (3%, 10 Votes)
Total Voters: 372
“I don’t read the comments people write about me – it’s not worth it.”
The BBC journalist has been the victim of targeted abuse as a result of her job.
In 2016 a petition was put online to have her sacked from the BBC over claims that she was biased towards the Conservative party. The petition was later taken down after it was “hijacked” by “sexist trolls”.
The same year Kuenssberg was booed as she questioned Jeremy Corbyn at a Brexit talk, and during the 2017 Labour party conference Kuenssberg was assigned bodyguards by the BBC after receiving threats online.
In Ctrl Alt Delete, Baldwin states that in 2008 Kuenssberg had to make a formal submission to BBC directors in order to be allowed to tweet from her own account without having bosses approve them first.
She joined Twitter in 2009 and now has 815,000 followers.
Kuenssberg said: “What I was excited about was the opportunity for punters to be part of politics. The whole idea was to allow the voices of people outside this weirdo palace of Westminster to be heard.”
She added: “I thought the whole social media thing might be really positive.”
However Kuenssberg believes that “the atmosphere now is so grim, it’s easy to lose sight of the way grassroots campaign groups have been able to grow online”.
Rebecca Vincent, the director of the UK bureau of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres), has come out in defence of Kuenssberg.
She tweeted: “Disgusting treatment of Laura Kuenssberg and other women journalists online, which must be taken seriously in an era of increasing attacks against journalists.
“Online threats too often lead to real-life violence, and must be put to a stop.”
Kuenssberg was appointed BBC Political editor in 2015 and is the first woman to hold the position.
Speaking to Press Gazette in 2016 she said: “I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC.
“That’s what we do. And if you go to any country around the world they would say that we were lucky to have it and, of course, I agree.”
Ctrl Alt Delete by Tom Baldwin is available to buy now.