The Definitive Word On Twitter ‘Abuse’…

John Kampfner provides it in this superlative CiF post:

A tweet is more pub talk than publication. But what about the argument that it provides the oxygen of publicity that the school playground or the bar stool at the local does not?

Oh, indeed. We’ve heard that one quite a lot over the last few days.

It does, but only if you encourage it.


Imagine you stumble across some 17-year-old boys sitting on a park bench, alcopops in hand, and you overhear some obnoxious chat. You could confront them – and some would – or shrug your shoulders, say that one day they’ll grow up, and hope that their peers will knock some sense into them.

Sadly, Twittermobs seem to all want to go get someone else to confront them.

Is it the job of the police to ensure that everyone speaks well of everyone else?


They are short-staffed due to the Olympics, remember?

They have far, far more important things to deal with, remember?

They whinge and complain about having to deal with this sort of stuff, remember?

Or as the free speech campaigner Kenan Malik puts it: “There are difficult questions about how, as a community, we challenge abuse, and about the fact that we often do not challenge such abuse but let it stand. But the fact that there are difficult questions here does not mean that such abuse should be a matter for the criminal law.”

Spot on! So….given all that, why are they so keen to get involved?

And why can’t people learn to handle this stuff without calling on them?

I am surprised whenever I see people re-tweeting or replying to people who have said something disparaging about them. I have always thought it best to leave the green ink brigade to stew. This 17-year-old seemed desperate to increase his followers, to be noticed. For all Daley’s understandable upset and anger, why on earth did he engage him? A barrage then ensued, with threats to “drown” Daley. Such things should never be taken lightly, but does this constitute realistic incitement? Had Daley not taken the bait, almost nobody would have noticed his ludicrous remarks and the world would have been a better place as a result.

Quite so. *sigh*

Twitter is the perfect medium for connecting people of all cultures, for disseminating information. It has played a valuable role in holding the powerful to account (as Adams was seeking to do). If people wish to use it to highlight the misdeeds of others, they should be praised, and followed. If they wish to misuse it to express their own flawed personalities, perhaps it is best to leave them to it – in miserable isolation.

I would venture to suggest that it’s that very power of Twitter to do this that has prompted the heavy-handed response from the authorities, eagerly egged on by those who assume it’ll never be used against them.

And, when it is, it’ll be too late for them to squeal about it…

1 comment for “The Definitive Word On Twitter ‘Abuse’…

  1. Tatty
    August 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    You could almost be forgiven for thinking that no one knows the difference between saying and doing, anymore.

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