A STROUD student has uncovered alarming findings when she carried out an investigation into trolling on Twitter.

As part of her dissertation, University of Bournemouth third-year Laura Eley, 22, found a sickening amount of abuse made towards outspoken celebrity Katie Hopkins on the website.

The 266 article study found 65% of all comments expressed violence and abuse towards Hopkins, a tabloid columnist and reality TV star, who shot to fame after appearing on BBC 1 show The Apprentice.

Laura, who will return home to Rodborough Hill this summer, was inspired to investigate how women are treated online after recent publicity about Twitter trolls. However, the levels of abuse she uncovered were far worse than she could have imagined.

Trolling, which refers to the abuse of people through the internet, is a growing concern and Laura’s findings further underline the need for greater online protection.

She said: “The comments were shocking and it was horrible to see, but on the Twitter rules it kind of palms the problem off onto the user. They must do more to try and stop this, although I’m not really sure what they can do.”

Interestingly much of the abusive tweets found were sent by users who appeared to be women. Trolling is usually associated with men, and for Laura this could set a worrying trend:

“Comments from women were more about her appearance and I’m concerned about how this may affect people’s attitudes. When people read these things they might begin to use language like this away from Twitter, in real life.”

“A lot of trolls create these accounts anonymously purely to direct abuse at people. I think they have way too much time on their hands.”

If you have been affected by trolling, or have an opinion on the matter, please comment below or send an email to wma@stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk