Calls for Twitter to clamp down on so-called “trolls” sending abusive hate messages via the social networking site intensified yesterday after a string of high-profile attacks on famous names including the diver Tom Daley. Coronation Street’s Shobna Gulati, and the Conservative MP Louise Mensch. Even the father of Daley’s internet abuser said the company needed to take action to stop the disturbing practice.
The hard of thinking are out in force once more. While I eschew Twitter, regarding it as a waste of pixels, others like to use it. Some like to use it to inflame, incense and generally be abusive. This is annoying, but that is all it is; annoying. Twitter, as with other platforms, gives users the option of blocking these people. If they step beyond the boundaries of making unpleasant comments online and start to become threatening in real life, then they have, indeed, committed crimes that require police attention. Until then, the police should have better things to be doing – and it is not up to the owners of the medium to police the comments people make any more than it is up to the Post Office to detect and stop poison pen letters.
The BBC Olympics presenter Gary Lineker revealed shortly afterwards that he felt “physically sick” after a Twitter troll mocked his son George over his childhood battle with leukaemia.
So block him. When you put your life in the public sphere, you attract the attention of these twats. It comes with the territory. But the likes of Twitter allow you to stop them at the pass. The tools are there, use them and stop whingeing to the rest of us and stop expecting others to do the job for you.
There’s an awful lot of people out there who need to grow thicker skins – or just grow up.
And last Thursday the Blue Peter host Helen Skelton decided to quit Twitter completely because of the abuse she was receiving.
That’s another solution, of course.
Norman Messer, the father of the teen arrested after insulting Daley, said yesterday that Twitter should have shut down his son Reece’s account a long time ago. Mr Messer, 58, said his son suffers from an extreme form of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “It’s not just Daley. He’s abused everyone on Twitter.”
I just love this. “Extreme hyperactivity disorder”. Something that those of us from a previous generation recognise as a euphemism for bad behaviour that was never corrected by his parents. Mr Messer should not be looking to Twitter to deal with his son being an obnoxious tit, he should be looking rather closer to home…
Yesterday, a senior police officer said new laws were not needed to govern Twitter. Chief Constable Stuart Hyde of Cumbria Police, who speaks on e-crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was right for officers to intervene where people’s lives were being made a misery by Twitter trolls. He insisted it was important for forces to take a “common sense” approach.
Good Lord! Almost a voice of reason. Unless or until these trolls cross the boundary beyond making nasty comments online, that common sense approach is to tell the complainant to use the tools available to them to block the trolls and to come back only if the abuse becomes something more serious – which, frankly, for the most part it doesn’t.