Internet trolls could face up to two years in jail under new laws, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said.
He told the Mail on Sunday quadrupling the current maximum six-month term showed his determination to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”.
Mr Grayling was speaking days after TV presenter Chloe Madeley suffered online abuse, which Mr Grayling described as “crude and degrading”.
She has welcomed the proposed laws but said social media should be regulated.
Under the measures, magistrates could pass serious cases on to crown courts.
The law change is to be made as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill going through Parliament, and due to be debated in the House of Lords in the coming week. The Bill applies to England and Wales only.
The new measures would also give police more time to collect enough evidence to enable successful prosecutions to be brought.
Mr Grayling told the newspaper: “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life.
“No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”