EMOJIS are being enlisted in the battle against trolls bullying the ‘silent majority’ online as a powerhouse campaign led by Penny Mordaunt is unveiled today.
Backed by former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and the Jo Cox Foundation, Ms Mordaunt has commissioned six emojis designed to call out rude behaviour and bullying.
If the ambitious bid gets international backing then the former defence secretary, who was Portsmouth North MP until the election was called, will take the final plans to the Unicode Technical Committee in an effort to get them installed for use on devices across the globe.
All leaders of political parties in Britain and US presidential hopefuls have been asked to support the idea.
Speaking to The News in Portsmouth yesterday, Ms Mordaunt said she hoped the emojis would allow people to warn off trolls and offer support to those being targeted.
The Conservative said: ‘It’s the inability to respond or call out behaviour without actually doing yourself some damage in the process.
‘I think that’s what most people feel. I think if we can send something that’s gentle and friendly saying “come on, this is not on” then that will be massively helpful.
‘There are colleagues, and I’m thinking of some of the Labour MPs who have really been targeted - obviously there’s a lot of unpleasantness but there’s a lot of low-level rudeness and unpleasantness. At times like that you want to be able to show support in a consistent way.’
Ms Mordaunt added: ‘There is more social media companies can do, especially with regard to advertising and online harms, there are also things I think we all can do, and good manners is up to all of us.’
It comes as the general election campaign is underway with political parties out on the streets canvassing ahead of December 12.
Ms Mordaunt said she is in the ‘silent majority’ of people who ‘do not engage in political debate on Twitter’ - using it to see others’ views and inform.
Backing the campaign is the Hollaback organisation fighting against harassment, which put Ms Mordaunt in touch with Monica Lewinsky who has launched her own emojis in an app.
Former Australian prime minister Mrs Gillard, chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said: ‘Research shows that it is disproportionately women who are abused online.
‘It is never easy to work out how to respond. Women debate should I ignore it or write back. These emojis will give a new option. A big thanks to Penny for coming up with this creative approach.’
If other designs are suggested they may be taken forward instead of the six outlined today.
The campaign hopes emojis would be sent from friends of people carrying out the abuse in a bid to stop them.
Sign the petition at eepurl.com/gBckSr