Ruth Brown singing on BBC programme the Voice, on Saturday April 28. She is fighting against online bullying
One of the favourites to win The Voice has become the victim of racist internet trolls.
The BBC called in police to investigate after Ruth Brown, 20, received a deluge of vile remarks on Twitter targeting her skin colour, appearance and weight.
The singer said she sobbed when she read the comments. Some users even made derogatory remarks about her father, Lloyd, who died of stomach cancer days before she auditioned for the show.
But after the BBC reported the comments to the Metropolitan Police, Miss Brown decided to fight back.
She has now spoken out about the growing problem of online bullying and racism. ‘Not only have I endured jibes of a racist nature but sick comments about my weight,’ she said in an interview yesterday.
‘Things have been said about my dad, too. At first, I was upset and cried my heart out. But I want to speak out because I hope it will encourage other people to fight back against bullies.’
She also defiantly reposted some of the hateful remarks on her own account to bring attention to the trolls, but the BBC has since asked her to take them down. They have been recorded as evidence.
Defiant: Ruth said at first, she cried her heart out, but then she decided to speak out about it, ‘to encourage other people to fight out against the bullies’
Some are from serial trolls, who seem to enjoy targeting horrific comments at those in the public eye.
One Twitter user, called Jay Smith, wrote: ‘u ugly ******g black …..b****,’ while another, Rizwan Ali, posted: ‘u are a fat ugly ******. Your dad must think what monster did I give birth to haha.’
Other trolls joined in, branding her ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. But scores of other social networking users offered the singer their support and condemned the abuse.
Popular: Ruth (pictured right) already has a huge fan base on Twitter, who have expressed their concern and offered support after reading the vile and racist remarks
Ruth (right), who is being coached by world-famous Welsh singer Sir Tom Jones, is one of the bookies’ favourites to win the show
Writing on her Twitter account, Miss Brown said: ‘I am not gonna lie those comments did hurt but I’m getting my dream and have amazing support thank you all.’
The BBC has also provided the aspiring star with a counsellor. Miss Brown, whose voice has been compared to Aretha Franklin’s, is mentored by Sir Tom Jones.
She added: ‘I do think it is wrong that people can bully others while hiding behind their computer screens.
‘I am glad the police are involved but for other people who perhaps do not have such strong support networks, the effects will be much more severe and traumatic.’
Ruth Brown, from The Voice, thanks supporters after receiving some hurtful messages on Twitter
Internet trolls believe that by hiding behind anonymity they can write whatever they want.
But their internet service providers can easily access their details, which can then be passed on to police as part of a criminal investigation.
Miss Brown is one of the favourites to win the competition. On last weekend’s show she sailed through to the next round with her powerful rendition of Oleta Adams’s Get Here (If You Can).
Her case comes only two months after a student was jailed for posting offensive comments on Twitter about the collapse of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba in the middle of a match.
Ruth Brown (pictured), from the game show The Voice speaks out about bullying on Twitter
Liam Stacey was arrested after other Twitter users – including the former England striker Stan Collymore – reported his tweets to police.
The 21-year-old pleaded guilty to the Racially Aggravated s4A of the Public Order Act 1986 and was sentenced to 56 days in prison.
He posted his comments shortly after Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during his team’s FA Cup quarter-final tie against Tottenham Hotspur.
Stacey later said he had been drunk and bitterly regretted his actions.
And police in North Wales made a number of arrests last month after Twitter users identified and insulted a teenager who was raped by Sheffield United and Wales football player Ched Evans.
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