Anti-vaccine groups used Telegram to send ‘apparent death threats’ to BBC journalists, report says

coronavirus mask protest london
Anti-lockdown protests in London.

  • Telegram users reportedly shared BBC journalists’ addresses and info in an anti-vaccination group.
  • BBC News asked staff to undergo training for handling “in-person” attacks, The Observer reported.
  • Attacks on reporters hit unprecedented levels in 2020, The Committee to Protect Journalists said.
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BBC News is said to have tightened its newsroom security after receiving threats against journalists from anti-lockdown or anti-vaccine groups.

The Observer reported that conspiracy groups on the messaging app Telegram had “swapped details of journalists, including their addresses, and have attempted to organise abuse.”

The report also quoted from a BBC staff memo sent out on Friday, which detailed the formation of an internal BBC group to study the safety of the news broadcaster’s employees.

BBC director of news and current affairs Francesca Unsworth said in a memo that staff should go through training for “in-person” attacks, according to the report.

“We know these attacks are more often aimed at women and journalists of colour, so we want to make sure we have particular support for those groups and are looking at what this could be,” Unsworth wrote.

Violence against journalists has been on the rise around the world, spurred in part by restrictions designed to slow the pandemic, according to Unesco.

That group published a report last September showing “a significant and growing threat to media freedom and freedom of access to information in all regions of the world.”

Attacks on US journalists have also hit “unprecedented” levels last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York nonprofit.

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