TORQUAY United skipper Lee Mansell has criticised 'mindless idiots' criticising players and damaging the Gulls' prospects by abusing the club's players on Twitter.
Mansell told the BBC he receives "lots of abuse" on the social media channel.
"Supporters have their opinions and that's fine," he said.
"But there's been times when people have overstepped the mark. It's hard to bite your tongue and it doesn't help.
"I'm big enough to take it and every footballer probably gets their fair share, but when they're talking about family members that doesn't really go down too well with me.
"I've tended just to stay away from it but you can't help getting sent stuff and when you look at it and see what you feel is negative stuff it does grate.
"With a chant, you can let it go - wherever you are playing you always end up getting abuse, that's part and parcel of football, but when it's there on a website it's there for all to see, including family members.
"It is hurtful in some ways."
Mansell said he had originally used Twitter to interact with supporters, but now used it mainly to keep in touch with family and friends.
He added: "Kevin Nicholson is another one who tends to cop a bit of flak. Maybe it's because we've been here the longest and people think it's easier to single us out. That's fine if it means the younger guys aren't getting it.
"They've hopefully got another 10 or 15 years in their career and I don't want them getting affected by some mindless idiots that feel the need to abuse people - it's the joys of social media.
"It's important for everyone at the club to stick together - that means the players the staff and the supporters."