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Norway PM opens up about online abuse

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Norway PM opens up about online abuse
Solberg said the hateful comments say more about the trolls than they do about her. Photo: Ole Gunnar Onsøien / NTB scanpix
14:46 CET+01:00
Prime Minister Erna Solberg has spoken out for the first time about the abuse hurled at her on social media and said that as a woman in politics she's had to develop thick skin.
The Norwegian PM has opened up about the hateful messages she encounters online, many of which take aim at her weight. 
 
In a TV2 programme called ‘Haterne' (The Haters), Solberg read aloud some of the messages, including “fat bastard”, “Erna Solberg is fat” and “it must be difficult to think when the woman is 99.9 percent fat with just a head on top for decoration”. 
 
Solberg, whose government recently released a strategy to combat online hate speech, said that she tries not to let the comments get to her. 
 
“When one passes 50 years old and has been in the public limelight for many years, you can withstand quite a bit. For me, this kind of abuse isn't a big deal. The commentators are saying more about themselves than they are about me,” she told TV2. 
 
The PM added that one must decide whether to let the comments get to them or not. 
 
“You have to decide how to react to this type of abuse. I've lived with around-the-clock bodyguards for two and a half years because of death threats. This [the online abuse, ed.] is peanuts,” she added. 
 
Solberg, who assumed office in October 2013 and has led the Conservative Party since 2004, said negative comments are unfortunately par for the course for women in politics. 
 
“As a female politician you get used to being judged on your appearance and everything else, so you become thick-skinned,” she told TV2. 
 
Solberg said internet trolls should ask themselves one simple question before posting hateful remarks. 
 
“Would I dare say that to someone face to face? That's a good test. I think that for many people, what they write is something they would never say while looking someone in the eye,” she told TV2. 
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