Liverpool

Parents of bullied schoolgirl demand social media fines

Lee and Emma Wharton
Image caption Lee and Emma Wharton said social media companies must do more to stop bullying content being shared

The parents of a girl whose assault was filmed and shared by her attackers say social media companies should be fined if they fail to remove content which includes violence and bullying.

Emma Wharton's daughter Erin, 14, was attacked on Tuesday outside a school in Cheshire.

Mrs Wharton said the ordeal had been worsened by the footage being spread via social media.

The school's head said she was "horrified" by the footage.

The footage which showed the attack was shared on apps including Snapchat and sent to Erin.

"I just wanted to forget it happened and then because of the video it is not going to be forgotten about," said Erin.

"It is just embarrassing and horrible - people were messaging me from anonymous accounts saying 'you got banged'," she added.

Her mother, Emma Wharton, said her daughter was "beside herself - more so with the humiliation".

Image caption Bullies were filmed attacking Erin outside a school in Cheshire before the footage was shared on social media

"They [social media companies] need fining every time a child or an adult shares something that causes this much distress," she said

"It stays on the internet forever. It doesn't disappear."

Her parents said they decided to share the footage themselves to turn its negative effects into a positive campaign against bullying.

He said the video had been viewed more than 400,000 times on Twitter and Erin had received messages of support as a result.

Cheshire Police said they were aware of the footage and investigating.

Dr Amy Binns, a social media expert from the University of Central Lancashire, said there was growing pressure on social media companies to remove content which featured bullying or self-harm after the death of Molly Russell.

Instagram has pledged to remove all self-harm images in the wake of her death.

"There's a way with the resources that they have if they want to do it," said Dr Binns.

The BBC has approached Snapchat for a comment.