Former X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd has hit back at the online bullies who targeted her when she first sprang to fame on the show.

The 18-year-old – who finished fourth in the 2010 series – has taken part in a Panorama special about onling bullying which will be shown on Monday night.

And she told The Sun just how her own experiences unfolded – as the initial online love for the singer quickly turned to hate.

“I remember the first time there were a couple of really bad comments,” Cher recalled.

“People might think, ‘Oh, just get over it — they’re only talking about your face or your eyebrows or your teeth’. But they were saying, ‘You’re not pretty,’ ‘You’re really ugly” ‘Why are you doing it?’.

“That’s when it started to really to hurt. Right from the very start,” she said. “I decided to delete my Facebook account. It drove me insane.

“I’m going to be drawn to that comment more than I am to one saying I’m beautiful or a great singer. Just like every other teenage girl would be. I put on a complete guard in front of me after that. And it meant I came across so badly. I’m gutted about it.”

Cher added that she thought being bullied online was ‘far worse’ than in person, due to the anonymity of those responsible – and that she wished she had spoken out about it sooner.

“I still get so frightened about what people are going to think about me,” she admitted. “It’s a constant worry for me. I’m frightened all the time.

“But I’m not afraid to admit that any more.