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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The dark side of Twitter

I haven’t posted anything about Twitter and Facebook for a few weeks.

It all seems to have gone a bit mad!

Last week, two jurors were sent to prison for using Facebook and Google.  I the first case Kasim Davey updated his status with –

‘Wooow I wasn’t expecting to be in a jury deciding a paedophile’s fate, I’ve always wanted to f*** up a paedophile & now I’m in the law.’

In a separate case Joseph Beard tried to research his case using Google. Both were imprisoned for 2 months for contempt of court. As jurors they will have been told that they must base their decision on the evidence alone and certainly that should not discuss the case with anybody else.

This is again a reminder that the internet is in fact part of the real world and anything we say and do can have severe consequences if we do not stop and think.

Those jurors were thoughtless and are paying the price. But recent developments on Twitter are simply nasty. A number of high profile women have received threats of violence via the site. These have included references to rape and death, including bomb threats –

Historian Mary Beard has been on the receiving end of such threats and encourages victims to report them to the police just like any other crime - "There is no two ways about it, threatening to kill someone is a crime and that's what I and other people have done and I hope other women who get these threats will do the same."

Twitter itself has been criticised for a slow response. This has led them to take on extra staff to deal with complaints.

All of this is bound to lead to calls for tighter control over or even censorship of social networking sites whose influence is growing by the day. I cannot actually see that happening or even being a practical option. 

But this behaviour is clearly unacceptable. It is no more acceptable in the virtual world than in the real world, in fact there is no difference. Swift complaints to Twitter and the police seem to be the most effective option.

And for those who are simply careless the message is still – think before you tweet!!

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