NICOLA Sturgeon has spoken out about the “really filthy, disgusting” abuse she receives online.

The First Minister said there is a big conversation to be had about how social media is “distorting” political debate.

It came as she insisted those who display anti-English banners and messages have no place in the SNP.

Ms Sturgeon made the comments during an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event with the comedian Matt Forde.

Asked if the Yes movement could be more rigorous about calling out social media abuse, she said: “I think we are.

“I call things out when I see them, when I think it’s appropriate to do that.

“I do think there's a sort of unrealistic expectation, given social media and how people operate online, that any leader of any party can police that completely.

“I’m not responsible for everything people say on Twitter – thank God.

“But it cuts both ways. I try not to look at it, but some of the abuse that I get on Twitter would literally make your hair curl.

“It’s horrible, misogynist, really filthy, disgusting stuff, and women across all parties get that.

“So we should always call that out. I think there is a much bigger debate, that’s not confined to Scotland, about how social media is distorting our political debate – and not in a good way.

“I don’t have all of the answers to that, but I think that is a big challenge – not just for the SNP or the independence movement, or just for Scotland, that’s a big challenge for everybody.”

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon was asked whether she worries about inspiring those with racist or anti-English views.

Mr Forde used the example of “the guy down on the Royal Mile with a banner saying, ‘England get out of Scotland’”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Of course any party, any movement, regardless of what they stand for, will attract people that you don’t want.

“They will see something, or choose to see something in what you stand for that it is not.

“The banner you talk about – that person with that banner does not speak for the SNP. That kind of sentiment has no place in Scotland.

“I think you can’t get to a situation in any party where you can say with certainty we’ll never attract the wrong kind of person.

“But you can be absolutely vehement and resolute about calling it out, and saying very clearly to people: if that’s your opinion, you don’t belong in this party and we don’t want you.

“People who put up banners like that – I don’t want them in the SNP. I’m sorry if that offends them, but I don’t want them.”

She added: “We should never be complacent about racism or bigotry. We’ve always got to make sure that we are living up to the ideals we have of Scotland.

“The most important thing for somebody in my position is not to pretend that my party will never attract anybody of those kind of opinions, but to be absolutely clear that we will never make the SNP a comfortable or welcoming place for them.”

Mr Forde was recording a live episode of his Political Party podcast.