Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola has revealed that she personally calls up people who pass nasty online comments about her and said they tend to squirm when confronted directly.
“Sometimes I call up people who insult me over a physical trait, because of my hair, or because my smile is too large,” Metsola said during an interview on Trudy Kerr’s podcast The Interviewer.
“I’ll find their numbers and call them personally, and their reaction is the best part. I’ll tell them ‘Hi, it’s Roberta and I’m calling about this comment’ but most of them will just say it wasn’t them.”
She later clarified with Lovin Malta that she only calls up people who leave serious and threatening comments.
Metsola said trolls she confronted include high-ranking people within the army and the police.
“It takes a lot to do it, but you reach a certain level where you’ve had enough and want to stop them doing the same thing to someone whose skin hasn’t been thickened by the years of aggression that I’ve been at the receiving end of.”
She also warned that some attacks are facilitated by the highest levels of government and media, creating an atmosphere whereby government supporters insult her just because they’ve been instructed to.
“It’s a new type of keyboard warrior which we didn’t have 10-15 years ago.”
Metsola went as far as to describe online hostility and aggression as the biggest challenge facing women in politics.
“We’re currently experiencing unprecedented levels of aggression,” she warned. “I can see this with the new female candidates, and I’m always the first to call them up and mentor them – there’s a level of propaganda in Malta that is extremely hostile and aggressive, mostly towards women, and especially young women.”
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.