Rachel Gorry has called for action against fake accounts on social media, insisting there “has to be consequences” for online trolls.
The Instagram star, who has over 209k followers, has dealt with awful abuse online since she launched her page last January.
The mother-of-three lost her husband Daniel to cancer this time last year, and revealed she’s received horrible messages about his death from anonymous trolls.
During an exclusive interview with Goss.ie, Rachel admitted the trolling has made her question her presence online.
“Sometimes when I get trolled, and they message to say they’re delighted that Daniel is dead, that hits and I’m like why am I putting myself out there to be targeted?” she said.
However, Rachel is inspired to keep going when she receives messages from people going through similar situations.
“When I get messages from people saying ‘You’re really helping me’, that makes it worth it. It’s such a small percentage of people that, you know, troll you and say these horrible things, so the positives outweigh the negatives ten fold.”
“Sometimes I’m like oh should I be sharing [my life], but if it helps one person its worth it, because its such a lonely journey and its so hard, so if just one person gets a bit of comfort through their journey, then I think its worth it.”
Speaking about the trolling she’s faced over the past year, Rachel admitted she’s considered ringing the guards over some messages – but there’s nothing they can do when the person is hiding behind a fake account.
“I’ve got some awful messages, but is there anything the guards can do if its from a fake account? Like what can they do? I’ve had some really dark, dark moments from trolling when I was in the height of my grief.”
“I just think people don’t realise when you’re sending a message what it can do to someone, you don’t know what state of mind somebody is in, and its so dangerous to be sending those messages to people.”
“It definitely shouldn’t be allowed. But as far as what the guards can do, if it’s from a fake account with a different email, there’s not much that they can do.”
“It’s so sad to think that those people are just getting away with that, when their words can have serious consequences…”
Rachel said she was glad a recent bill was passed called Coco’s Law, which aims to protect people from online harassment.
However, the bill doesn’t fully protect her from the “brutal” abuse she receives on anonymous forums, and from fake accounts on Instagram.
When asked if social media platforms should force people to provide identification in order to set up an account, Rachel replied: “I think that would be a great idea, just anything that can deter them, because its so easy to open up an account.”
“Even when I’m doing a Q&A, I always know that there’s gonna be someone after setting up a quick fake account just to say something nasty to me.”
“Just literally set it up for the purpose of saying to me ‘go kill yourself’ or ‘you’re such a horrible mother’ – and it shouldn’t be that easy. ”
“There should definitely be some type of ID… you know, there has to be consequences, you can’t say things like that to be people, it’s not normal.”
“So, I do think there should be something better in place, if it was possible it would be fantastic.”
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When asked how she deals with the trolling, Rachel replied: “Daniel left me letters, and I genuinely think they really help because he mentions the trolls in the letters.”
“I got trolled when Daniel was still alive, we were accused of faking Daniel’s illness because he was still smiling in photographs.”
“And on one particular photograph, it was actually our last family photo, I was being trolled saying ‘oh one minute he’s dying in hospital and the next minute he’s smiling at home, you’re lying’ and all this kind of stuff, and Daniel died two weeks later.”
“But I remember that night he held me in bed, and I was crying saying ‘why would someone say that?’ and he was like ‘don’t let them change you, its their problem, it’s their issue.'”
“And in the letters, I won’t go into detail about what he was saying, but when I get trolled I go back to that.”
“Daniel left me so many letters, so when the trolls say these things I just revert back to Daniel’s letter and its like he’s still here telling me and reassuring me, so that helps massively, it really does.”
Rachel also thrives off the support of her loyal followers, who have helped her immensely over the past year.
“I genuinely don’t think I would have coped so well with Daniel’s passing if it wasn’t for the followers,” the mother-of-three gushed.
“I’ve often been up in the middle of the night, it could be 4am, and I would gave followers messaging me saying ‘oh you’re still up’ and we would have a conversation.”
“I’ve genuinely made friendships [from Instagram] and I think it is so lovely, and I know the support is always there.”
“So it is nice to have that, its just unfortunate that the downside is the trolling and stuff like that, that can be quite difficult,” she added.