Black woman subjected to "constant barrage of hate" while tweeting from '@ireland' account

Michelle Marie has since received hundreds of messages of support, including from Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette

Black woman subjected to "constant barrage of hate" while tweeting from '@ireland' account

Screenshot: @Ireland/Twitter

The latest person to take over the '@Ireland' Twitter handle has been subjected to harassment and racist abuse during her first day on the account.

Established by the Irish Central team in 2012, a different person is appointed each week to tweet from it.

Describing the motivation behind the account, Irish Central says: "As the Ireland of today is not confined to the island of Ireland, the varied voices of @Ireland come from Ireland and across the world."

The latest person to it take over is Michelle Marie, who describes herself as "a mum [and] model who is passionate about quashing body shame culture". She has been living in Ireland for three years.

After taking over the account, Michelle faced a barrage of abusive messages, many from anonymous accounts or self-described white nationalists.

Michelle described it as 'eight hours of nonstop hate'.

In response to the abusive tweets, Michelle received hundreds of supportive messages - including from actress and activist Patricia Arquette and writer and actor Mark O'Halloran.

Darragh Doyle, who oversees the Ireland account, encouraged people to report the accounts involved in the abuse, adding that the "vast majority" of tweets received were supportive.

Michelle and Darragh spoke to Newstalk Lunchtime about what has happened over the last 24 hours.

Darragh argued that the vast majority of the "awful tweets" appeared to have been from the US, from "far-right, pro-Nazi, white power accounts that had never interacted with the Ireland account before".

He added: "Blocking is actually a very effective thing, because it removes that from your visibility and your eyeline, and it stops giving the trolls attention."

Michelle observed: "I didn't expect... it was just a constant barrage of hate. It was beyond racism. It was beyond sexism. It was just pure hate, and it really took its toll on me when it was non-stop for hour after hour after hour."

However, she also explained: "It was hard to get to the positive, supportive people because there was so much negativity - but I've had hundreds of tweets, messages, people reaching out across social media [...] It really has made me safe to be living in Ireland, and feel that I am welcome here."

Twitter has faced frequent criticism over its handling of harassment directed at users, with the company acknowledging: “We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behaviour on Twitter. We agree." 

Last week, the social network announced further measures to try and cut down on abuse - including an option to limit notifications to users they follow, and a 'quality filter' to improve the quality of tweets users see.