Facebook and Twitter should do more to tackle online abuse, says Abbott

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Facebook and Twitter should do more to shutdown people sending racist and sexist abuse, the shadow home secretary has said.

Diane Abbott added there may be a case for a parliamentary inquiry to see what more could be done to also ensure internet providers take action, warning the level of abuse could put some women off politics.

The Labour MP believes social media has "turbo-charged" the abuse as it is now easier to send.

Ms Abbott made the remarks after speaking about the racist and sexist abuse she has received online.

She encouraged black children to still get involved in politics, adding she has been able to see change since becoming the first black female MP in 1987.

Ms Abbott told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think it's very, very sad you're seeing this horrible abuse. I actually think internet providers could do more.

"Facebook, Twitter - they're American companies, they believe in first amendment - right to freedom of speech.

"But no-one really has a right to peddle this racist and sexist abuse."

Ms Abbott added: "I think there's probably the case for a parliamentary inquiry - partly to make internet providers do more to close down these people.

"My colleague Luciana Berger, in the end they found a guy that was directing anti-Semitic abuse at her and he was charged and convicted.

"But there are so many more of these people out there and what they're doing is poisoning the political debate and they're putting off, I think, particularly young women from even getting involved in the political debate online and they must be putting off some women from getting involved in politics."

Ms Abbott went on: "When I was a new MP if you want to send racist abuse you wrote a letter, in green ink usually, and you got maybe one or two of those letters a week.

"Now you can press a button and threaten to rape somebody.

"The more some of these guys see this stuff online, the more they feel encouraged and emboldened and it's become turbo-charged and it's become worse.

"It's almost as if they want to drive some of us out of politics."

The Labour frontbencher said MPs need to stand together against a "concerted attempt to delegitimatise women in politics".

Asked if she had ever been tempted to quit, Ms Abbott replied: "I did have a wobble a few years ago. 

"I can't remember, it was some horrible press story and I rang Keith Vaz - who entered Parliament with me in 1987 - and Keith was quite brisk.

"He said 'Diane, you have forgotten what it took for us to get here' and he kind of gave me a sort of emotional shake, gave me some advice.

"People forget what it was like when I came in in 87 - I was the only black woman MP, you hardly ever saw even a black admin person or secretary."