Popstar Alexandra Burke has been at the centre of a number of stories, after becoming a target for several anonymous Twitter users. When one fellow restaurant diner tweeted how he was going to "stab her to death" with his steak knife, Burke's brother David went on a mission to discover the user, who subsequently branded his threat a joke.
Then, just last week, it was revealed that the 23-year-old singer received police protection to the launch of her new lip product range, after one user sent a series of messages detailing how they would kill her at the event.
Blogging for Digital Spy, Alexandra's mother and former Soul II Soul star Melissa Bell calls on the social networking websites to do more in order to protect its users.
Internet Trolls, by Melissa Bell
"The definition of the word 'troll' means to allure, to fish, to entice or to bait. Growing up, I was given a Troll doll, a mischievous creature that lived in caves, in logs, and under bridges.
Trolls dolls, first created by Thomas Dam and his family in Denmark in the 1950s, were delightful. Carved in wood, the dolls were believed to be a good luck charm, and were purchased with the hope that they would bring luck to their owners.
Now the word 'troll' has taken on an additional sinister and unsavoury meaning; associated with vile, disgusting individuals who peruse the internet seeking pleasure in inflicting pain and suffering via their cruel comments, mockery, threats and messages of hate - all done I may add, under the wonderful anonymity of the internet where they bravely feel they can't ever be traced or made accountable for what they say or threaten to do.
Most internet trolls tend to be sad people, living their lonely lives vicariously through those they see as strong and successful.
They posses the illusion of power. The nasty content that they post in the online community, such as discussion forums, chat rooms, or blogs has the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response, and this further elevates their misguided belief in their self-proclaimed importance and relevance. Internet trolls are the epitome of cowardly behaviour, they really are.
At least playground bullies had the gall to stand there so that you could see them, identify them and at least defend yourself against them face to face, but these faceless, psychotic, sick beings have no backbone, no purpose in life, no ambition and are often in need of sectioning. Their computer screen and the social networks are their haven.
> Alexandra Burke confirms new album 'Heartbreak on Hold'
> Alexandra Burke debuts new single 'Let It Go' - listen
Well, the advice given is to generally ignore the hate, the threats and the trolling activities of these sickos and normally I do. However, I can't help but react defensively when they promise to injure, kill or bring harm to anyone in my family, mainly because there are idiots out there that strive to carry through their threats.
And because they post their profiles with fake identities (Trolling is a game about identity deception), you don't know who or what you are dealing with and therefore have to be cautious and take absolutely no chances.
Having a daughter in the public eye means that these internet trolls have become an unwelcomed feature in the equation. The trolls have a naturally upsetting and disconcerting effect upon those that they pick on and my heart goes out to all those people highlighted in recent news reports that have also been affected by them. Some have even resorted to taking their own lives because they couldn't handle the effects of the trolls' comments and mockery.
With all the indisputable evidence on this matter, why aren't the major social networks doing more to try and control this?
Notice I use the word "try" because I know that the problem is a colossal one but I have to say, I do have a current gripe with Twitter, who seem to be very efficient and adept at pulling down and removing trending topics from their lists at a moments notice (Tweam know EXACTLY what I'm talking about), so obviously they have a team of people in their headquarters whose sole task it is to do just that - but they have yet to set aside a specific team to monitor the more serious issue of menacing trolling activity.
I mean, how did someone manage to send 10 consecutive message of threats to kill my daughter ON HER TWITTER TIMELINE, yet they did not detect it or shut it down, trace the account and alert the authorities. These messages were not the usual run of the mill, 'I hate you', 'You can't sing', 'You shouldn't have won the X Factor', 'You're ugly' taunts - they were chilling, direct messages which very fervently illustrated a specific intent to kill. And just incase we were experiencing any iota of confusion regarding exactly what the troll was really trying to say , they even went into precise detail about what methods and objects would be used to administer the "killing".
I couldn't believe what I was seeing, nor could I believe that the safety watch team (if indeed they have one) on this network didn't have a system that would flag up this sort of post - automatically blocking and tracing the source and/or its author. Wishful thinking perhaps, but I watched Enemy of the State all those years ago and saw exactly what technology was capable of in those days, and I daresay we have technologically moved on leaps and bounds since then. Anything is possible, and it's not like the major social networks are short of a few quid - surely they should have some detection system in place.
Tweets and posts should be monitored before being allowed online. Time-consuming and expensive I know, but that in my opinion, would constitute responsible management of a major networking concern such as Twitter or Facebook.
Another idea would be to charge people to be on the networks. Harsh and unwelcome I know, but that way, trolls wouldn't bother to apply because most of them have not got the wherewithal or intelligence to get a job in order to pay their way, and it would mean the online environment would be that much more safer to an extent (nothing's ever 100%) - just an idea anyway.
Don't get me wrong it's not Twitter's fault, but they do have a responsibility to police their own network and make it as troll-free as possible and ensure that certain individuals are not using it as a tool to glorify and gratify their demonic mass-murdering inner fantasies.
I must say, the Metropolitan police acted swiftly when I had to report this particular latest troll. They didn't mess about and are pursuing the case with vigour as we speak. I would like to personally thank them once again for their response.
And lastly, would-be trolls out there. Y'all better listen up. It's not funny anymore, no-one's amused or impressed and YOU are the idiots.
You can't hide behind the screen anymore. Sending messages which are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character is an offence whether they are received by the intended recipient or not - and you will be caught, no matter how long it takes.
Get some help from your GP or voluntarily hand yourself into a mental facility where you can get help… OK, yes I'm being a bit facetious here, but to be honest I really want to express myself in a more graphic manner to these pieces of excrement - but I'm guessing that if I did, Digital Spy would be reluctant to print it, so I'll end by saying this to the internet trolls who believe it's an achievement to be a dumbass - SEE YOU ALL IN COURT."