Sun Sep 24, 2017 London
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EDITORIAL

Editorial comment from Matthew SteeplesOur editor tells it like it is and he rarely minces his words

Axing Anti-Social Media

Matthew Steeples suggests the director of public prosecutions is right to seek “uplifted” sentences for online abusers but argues she does not go far enough

 

I have been targeted by online trolls for years. As a writer, I accept I am ‘fair game’ for criticism but when that tips over into the kind of vicious abuse I get from unhinged keyboard warriors, it moves into a realm that is unacceptable.

 

On a personal level, my recent involvement in the case of the Viscount St Davids – a convicted online hate criminal and all round dimwit returning to court this week to again face the repercussions of offering a reward on Facebook to anyone prepared to run over the anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller – not only resulted in negative articles by such oddities as the one-time male escort and Big Brother 11 contestant Benjamin Duncan on the blog of the anti-gay, pro-repatriation of immigrant Traditional Britain website, but also in threatening messages online and a physical attack upon my person. Such abuse has not only taken up considerable amounts of my time and distressed me, it has also caused considerable nuisance to friends and business acquaintances. Now, to her credit, the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, has finally also come to the conclusion that “online abusers must be dealt with harshly” and thankfully it looks as if the laws relating to such will be toughened up.

 

In an article, published in this morning’s The Guardian, Saunders argues “the criminal justice system are ready to listen” with regard to calls for stronger sentences for online abusers. She references “new guidance” and a need for “stiffer ‘uplifted’ sentences” but what she ignores is that the Communications Act 2003, under which the likes of the aforementioned errant peer was prosecuted, does not have any understanding of Facebook (which came into existence one year after the creation of that law in 2004) and Twitter (launched 2006).

 

Saunders’ acceptance that “an increasing proportion of hate crime is now perpetrated” online is a definite start and her acceptance that they should be treated “just as seriously as those experienced face to face” is certainly positive. Hitting “report abuse” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, however, gets no one anywhere. It is in fact our government that must go further and introduce stronger regulation that actually holds social media providers themselves to account for the content they allow to be published on their sites.

 

Comments

15 comments on “Axing Anti-Social Media”

  1. Ben Duncan is an odd one and a man of many “talents” I’d say: Obsessed with being famous, gets paid to go out with old ladies, writes for the racist Traditional Britain site, applies fake tan in a way even those in TOWIE couldn’t manage, strange dyed hair, a fan of Baron Strange, used to work for some kind of Arabic channel.

  2. Oh rod off you silly sausage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People should be allowed to say WTF they want on the internet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you want to ban free speech —— get with the picture and say whatever the f*** you want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Idiocy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Mind you ——- Ben Duncan cannot spell!!!!!!!!!!!!! That article is full of errors!!!!!!!!!!!! He needs locking up by the grammar nazis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Just watched a Channel 5 Wright Stuff debate about this. The panel were rubbish and one even said this isn’t a problem. As you point out, it definitely is and my 12 year old daughter has been targeted on Instagram by other girls in her class. I even had to move her to another school and still it continued. I have now had to close her account down.

  5. This article is ridiculous. You should devote your energies to helping dear Gerry and Kate McCann find their beloved daughter Madeleine instead. Gina Miller does not need any help and you should stop moaning about the Viscount. He did nothing wrong and just shared his views. It is people like the evil (now dead) woman Brenda Leyland who trolled the McCanns who should be locked up. FIND MADELEINE, FIND HER NOW.

    1. What a disgusting,sick and very sad excuse for a human being you truly are Trott(or should that be Gurney?) I believe you are either mentally ill and need help or are a truly wicked person without an ounce of moral decency. You absolutely sicken me and I implore Mr Steeples ban you from these pages forthwith.

      1. Allowing Gilian Trott and others to continue simply provides illustration that craziness does exist. Banning her would not be fair but I agree that her views are quite beyond cuckoo.

        1. I agree with you Matthew, just let this crazy person burn herself. I’m even beginning to think she doesn’t believe the nonsense she writes herself. I think it’s all really just attention seeking, she’s a sad case really.

  6. As a pensioner living in Pimlico and someone without Facebook and Twitter I urge you all to be sensible. If abused starts I suggest simply closing the account.

  7. The abuse I am now getting for comments I leave on property related articles on here is upsetting to me but I suck it up and carry on. Why don’t Twitter and Facebook users do the same? It is NOT real abuse.

    1. Perhaps you are not worth wasting time on because estate agents are boring. How about being less popular and telling us that Madeleine is alive and well in Morocco and Kate and Gerry need another public handout session to go and and see about it. As for Gurnard the Horseface -you sicken me with your comments You are utterly, morally bereft.

  8. The inability to get Facebook to do anything about the mass fake profiles , active fraud, peadophilia, porn, and images of vilence is notorious. This is why we need to publish our warnings and educate potential victims. It is the same on many other sites too

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