There are a lot of tragic people out there hiding in the anonymity of the internet- dealing out the hate and getting away with it.
In a thoroughly modern way it looks like time has been called on the trolls and also on Twitter’s lack of response to a deluge of abuse and rape threats received by Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned for women to be included on UK banknotes.
It’s hard to believe that something as innocuous as calling for woman to appear on a bank note could result in such hateful messages and the abuse has underlined one of the fundamental problems of the free for all of the internet where freedom to say what you want seems to be getting mixed up with the right to be a bully.
Ms Criado-Perez, who had appeared in the media to campaign for women to feature on banknotes, said the abusive tweets began the day it was announced that author Jane Austen would appear on the newly designed £10 note.
She reported them to the police after receiving “about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours” and said she had “stumbled into a nest of men who co-ordinate attacks on women”.
Twitter now faced a real problem – it likes to be seen as a protector of free speech and an anything goes policy but what is the point in having free speech if this is all you do with it.
If it agrees to campaigners’ demands for a “report abuse” button on every tweet, it will then need to employ an army of monitors to respond to complaints and decide what constitutes abuse.
The company would prefer that threatening tweets were referred to the police, who in the UK have been active in pursuing social media users suspected of breaking the law.
There is now a campaign to boycott Twitter on August 4th unless something is done.
What do you think? Time for Twitter to act?