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'Sexual assault on social media' - AFLW star at centre of deleted photo controversy speaks out

It would have been easier for Carlton AFLW star Tayla Harris to ignore the vile online responses to the picture of her kicking for goal but she didn't.

And she hopes her stand will be the catalyst for change.

"If I can stand up here and say something about it and start the conversation ... if that helps one person or heaps of people then that's what I want to do," Harris said at Ikon Park on Wednesday.

"I'm fine with people commenting on and critiquing my football, I understand that is the football beast, but it's the comments that are severely inappropriate, comments that my family will read.

"If there's ever a point where on social media there's sexual assault - that's what I've decided to call it - then I think it's that."

But Harris also sees some positives coming out of the experience.

AFLW player Tayla Harris kicks the ball for Carlton Blues.
AFLW player Tayla Harris kicks the ball for Carlton Blues. Source: Getty

"... The support that has come from this has been phenomenal.

"I think that has shut down anyone who would have made a comment ... I hope they'd be thinking 'I've mucked up here' and hopefully they won't do it again.

"That's all you can really ask."

A photo of Harris in full flight posted by Channel Seven was pulled down by the network after it attracted offensive comments from online trolls.

The network later re-posted the picture and offered an apology.

"In response to the photo being taken down, I think it's important to point out that the broadcaster's immediate response was one of protection," Carlton chief executive Cain Liddle said.

"They recognised that error."

Earlier on Wednesday, Harris described the comments as "sexual abuse" in an interview on RSN.

Federal Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer said she was "disgusted" by the trolling.

"We need to out these trolls. We need to out these people who would seek to make misogynist comments about women," O'Dwyer told reporters in Melbourne.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the problem wasn't just an issue for Seven, a broadcast partner of the AFL, or the football code.

"It's more a challenge with the platform, social media, because this is not an isolated incident," McLachlan told reporters in Sydney.

"But when it's unacceptable commentary, more and more people are calling that out and that is what has happened here."