11 Celebrities Who Were Driven Off Twitter

17/04/2015 15:10 | Updated 17 April 2015

Beyond The Ballot is The Huffington Post UK's alternative take on the General Election, taking on the issues too awkward for Westminster. It focuses on the unanswered questions around internet freedom, mental health and housing. Election news, blogs, polls and predictions are combined with in-depth coverage of our three issues including roundtable debates, MP interviews and analysis

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When a high profile celebrity like Sue Perkins quits Twitter because of bullying and threats, many will put it down to being a pitfall of fame.

Perkins, who had been the bookies' favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, said she had been forced off the site by trolls. "Someone suggested they'd like to see me burn to death," Perkins tweeted.

But it's an issue unrestricted to celebrities, ChildLine has had calls from more than 4,500 children bullied off social media by online hate.

It's an issue absent from political debate and manifestos, with under-resourced police usually unable or unwilling to do the legwork involved in finding perpetrators, and vague laws governing what counts as threatening behaviour online.

Prominent trolling victim Nicola Brookes told HuffPost UK's Digital Deficit round table that police had advised her to close down her account, something Index on Censorship's chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said was "restricting [Brooke's] fundamental right to free expression".

These are the celebrities who have chosen to "self-censor" by closing down their social media permanently or temporarily. Will this election campaign address ways to tackle online bullying, without shutting down social media as the only solution?

  • 1 Zelda Williams
    Robin Williams' daughter quit the social network after being bombarded with harrowing messages following her father’s death. She publicly called for the users sending her the abuse to be reported, adding: “I’m shaking. I can’t. Please. Twitter requires a link and I won’t open it. Don’t either. Please.”
  • 2 Jane Goldman
    Jon Furniss/Invision/AP
    The screenwriter and wife of Jonathan Ross quit Twitter after a hail of abuse following her husband's decision not to host the annual Hugo Awards in London in August last year.
  • 3 Helen Skelton
    Doug Peters/Doug Peters
    Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton decided to leave Twitter, claiming her "not very thick skin" meant she could not deal with the site any more. "Turns out I don't have very thick skin after all so I am closing my twitter account. Enjoy the games. Signing off, skelts x", the 29-year-old wrote on the site, choosing not to elaborate on the matter.
  • 4 Sara Payne
    ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images
    Sara Payne, mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, said she had suffered 'decades' of abuse online. Her friend Shy Keenan tweeted that Mrs Payne had been "forced to close down her Twitter account" by trolls.
  • 5 Matt Lucas
    Dennis Van Tine/ABACA USA
    The Little Britain star said he could not handle the abuse and taunting he received after the death of his former partner Kevin McGee. ‘I appreciate all the support on here over the past couple of years but it’s time to shut down my Twitter account,' he wrote.
  • 6 Sinead O'Connor
    "I’ve stopped Twitter now because, although it was fun for a while, I had to stop because I was getting too much abuse," the star said in 2011.
  • 7 Caroline Criado-Perez
    Peter Macdiarmid via Getty Images
    Although the feminist campaigner has now returned to the social network, she quit Twitter after a lengthy campaign of death and rape threats and a police investigation.
  • 8 Cathy Newman
    Matt Kent/ITN 2013 via Getty Images
    The Channel 4 presenter tweeted she'd been "ushered" out of a south London mosque, but CCTV footage proved she hadn't. After receiving thousands of outraged tweets, she apologised and said she was taking a break from the site.
  • 9 Lily James
    The Downton Abbey actress said she kept being mocked for her looks on Twitter. "I got, 'She’s not even pretty, she’s just nasty," the actress said.
  • 10 Stephen Fry
    Though he is one of the pioneer celebrity users of the site, the star has quit Twitter on numerous occasions, taking breaks when the abuse or pressure gets too much. He is currently taking a break from the site for at least the next three months.


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