Love Island’s Zara McDermott meets the government to share her revenge porn horror

Love Island star and Influencer Zara McDermott meeting girls from Hackney Laces football team today (Image: PA)

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Zara McDermott opened up to a Tory minister about her horrific experience of revenge porn as she backed new laws which are set to crack down on the abuse of women and girls online.

The former Love Island contestant described the "relentless" abuse she has endured since she entered the public eye in 2018.

Zara was just 14-years-old when she was pressured by a boy at school to send intimate images of herself.

He went on to share those images of Zara around the school.

Seven years later, when she was a contestant on the reality dating show, aged 21, those intimate images of Zara were again circulated on WhatsApp.

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Zara McDermott, reality TV star and influencer, said: “I have been subject to relentless online abuse since I entered the public eye in 2018.

"The Online Safety bill is going to be fundamental in ensuring our young people feel properly protected online.

"We as a society do not tolerate physical abuse – so why in the past have we been more tolerant of online abuse? It’s important that those behind social media accounts – often anonymous – are held to account for their words.

"A line needs to be drawn between freedom of speech, and bullying, hate speech and abuse.

"Social media has become a breeding ground for this behaviour and if it is not moderated sooner, there will be significant consequences to the mental health of our young people. I believe the Online Safety Bill is a huge step in the right direction."

Zara McDermott in a photo posted on her Instagram
(Image: Jam Press)

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage was joined by Zara and England footballer Fara Williams at the East London football ground for Hackney Laces girls, days after a current Love Island contestant spoke of death threats she received before the latest series was aired.

Chloe Burrows received hundreds of deaths threats online, her family confirmed, with some encouraging her to kill herself.

Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage at today's event
(Image: PA)

The government’s Online Safety Bill was published in May and will put a new legal duty of care on online companies to protect their UK users from harm, including people receiving abusive comments, threats and harassment online.

Social media companies will need to remove abusive posts, enforce their own community standards and prevent explicit illegal images – including intimate images shared without consent – circulating on their services. If they don’t act they could face multi-billion pound fines or even bans.

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Minister Dinenage who also spoke to 15 to 16-year-old Hackney Laces players said:

“Women have every right to enjoy social media without suffering despicable criminal behaviour, threats of violence and harassment. Yet I’ve heard more powerful accounts today of the unacceptable reality facing not just those in the public eye but all girls growing up online.

“We owe it to future generations to shape a safer internet. Our new laws will do that by making the companies profiting so greatly from young people’s use of their sites accountable for what happens on their platforms.”

Fara is England's most capped footballer but as a high-profile women's player has been a victim of hate on social media, in particular when she moved from Everton to rivals Liverpool in 2012.

She "hopes these new laws will make the online world a safer place to be for everyone, especially girls".

The former England footballer added: "If they can prevent young women in future from receiving abuse and hatred online, then the internet will be a better place.”

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