Elton John has called for anonymous internet trolls to be held accountable for “hateful” abuse.
In a new interview on his Apple Music 1 show Rocket Hour, the pop legend condemned those who “hide behind” anonymity to spout homophobic and racist abuse.
He said: “People are so cruel to each other and it’s because they hide behind their social messaging or whatever they do. If they had to write their names on it, they wouldn’t do it.
“And I just think it’s just awful that people can write anonymous things about people being gay, being of another political persuasion, religious persuasion, or just plain racial [abuse].”
Last year, a Galop report found that eight in 10 LGBT+ people had experienced online abuse, with six in 10 threatened with physical violence. One in five had been the victims of online abuse over 100 times.
Elton also discussed the specific danger of anonymous online abuse during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: “We’ve lived through two or three years of divisiveness throughout the whole world, and especially in America, but around the world, and during lockdown, we’ve seen social media being used to abuse people.”
He specifically called out the recent rise in Asian hate crimes in the US.
“People in America are being abused for being Asian because of the COVID thing, and it’s like, ‘Oh, come on’,” he added. “And it’s all down to the hateful messaging that people are putting on their social network. And we have to do something about it.”
The US has seen a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes since the beginning of the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate recorded almost 3,800 instances of anti-Asian racism since the pandemic began, over 1,000 more than the previous year.
On 16 March, six women of Asian descent were killed at three spas in Georgia, leading to Stop Asian Hate rallies across the US in the days that followed.
Elton urged for increased accountability online: “I just think that we have to ask ourselves at this time that it’s not good enough for people to be able to post anonymous things online.
“They have to be accountable for what they say. It’s making the world really divided and it’s really cruel.”