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How an Aussie radio host found herself mercilessly trolled by a One Direction star's fans.

On Tuesday, while introducing a pre-recorded phone interview with former One Direction star Louis Tomlinson, 2Day FM’s Summer Breakfast team – comprising of Ash London, Ed Kavalee and Ash Williams – had some ordinary, radio-worthy banter.

“Just so we’re clear, because I’m a very visual guy, Ash — he’s the guy with the smaller face with the short brown hair?” Williams asked London.

“Kind of like ratty facial hair …” London replied.

“He’s not Harry Styles basically,” Kavalee said. “He’s the least popular one.”

That exchange – those three lines – have since sparked a deluge of fury from the star’s most loyal fans. With their pitchforks in one hand and Twitter accounts in the other, mob mentality was contagious.

London's words were called "vile" and "shameful" and "disgusting"; she was branded the ultimate "bitch".

She came back gracefully.

“I am a music fan. I love that it brings so much passion out in people,” she wrote on Twitter as Tomlinson's fans began their vicious pile-on.

“This morning on air we had a great interview with Louis. As always — he was a total legend. I loved talking about how far he’s come, his new music and his future which looks so bright.

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“We love Louis and will continue supporting him and his new music as we have always done.”

Perhaps this is where the story would've ended, had Tomlinson not joined the choir of abuse.

"Probs best to stay on private for a bit longer love," he said, his message punctuated by an emoji of the middle finger.

For loyal teen fans blinded by a heartthrob in need of their support, London's statement did little to quieten their aggression. Tomlinson's reply was like their very own call to action.

They got louder and they certainly got more aggressive.

Some seven hours later, London was forced to issue another statement.

“Tough day. A lot of people claiming I said some things which in reality I simply didn’t,” said London.

“What I can apologise for, is describing the quality of someone’s facial hair in a lighthearted chat with my two co-hosts. For that I’m sorry. All the other stuff? Simply not true. Not me.

“I’ll be off socials for a bit — the abuse and threats are a little much for me right now. I won’t go on private because I don’t have anything to hide. In future I’ll do what I always do — stick to the music and leave any mentions of facial hair out of it.”

Though backlash culture is not new and a social media storm moulding itself into part of the weather - inevitable, frequent and predictable - there's something about this case that feels different.

Avoidable.

The wrath of teenagers who are one-eyed by infatuation and fame is a dangerous beast. They need to be led, and their leader needs to be responsible with their influence. There's something uniquely terrifying about the power of Louis Tomlinson in this instance, and his deliberate decision to invite a wave of abuse on someone else in a culture well-versed in the dangers of cyber-bullying.

Because if we're talking mountains and molehills, the world's highest mountain was just concocted from the world's smallest molehill.

And in the process, the online world just drove one more person away.

Listen: How to keep your kids safe online in a world that feels far from it.

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