I was fortunate enough to have been utilised as a consultant on the BBC 3 programme ‘Troll Hunters’. Its fair to say that I was instructed late in the day and to some extent the direction of the programme had already been determined. My brief was to try and identify some of the individuals behind the abuse. Like many serving and former law enforcement officers you develop a thick skin to this type of thing. But I have to say that some of the comments made against some of the victims were absolutely horrendous. That, I think, gives investigators that added determination to identify the cowards who are not brave enough to say those sorts of things in public, or in a face to face confrontation with their victim.
Online intelligence was provided; it wasn’t evidence but there were some lines of enquiry that could have led to certain people being asked difficult questions. No criticism of the programme makers at all but I suspect time, budgets and legal advice may have played their part.
What also struck me was the lack of commentary about the liability of social media platforms. Representatives of Twitter for example were conspicuous by their absence. Of course they cannot control what people want to say but they know a lot about us as users and could be more proactive in identifying this sort of behaviour. The technology is certainly there to flag certain words and phrases.
Perhaps we law abiding ‘Netizens’ now need to think long and hard about what sort of Internet and social media we want. A haunting example from the programme was reminiscent of a pack of baying wolves. The vitriolic comments from some hateful individuals led a young girl to take her own life such was the abuse and hatred piled upon her. How many more times are we prepared to tolerate this behaviour? “Turn your computer off” came a response from one interviewee. Really? So they are not going to turn their attentions to somebody else then? How does that help to address the problem?
Lets please not shrug our shoulders and “say there’s nothing we can do”. I will always remember a colleague in the police referring to that hackneyed comment in the context of a victim. He said “to say there is nothing we can do is just not good enough, there’s always ‘something’ we can do”. ‘Well here’s my something’.
Let’s harness the power of the Internet and social media in a positive manner and make it clear that this is not acceptable. Many of the profiles that came to the attention of the programme makers have yet to be identified, but they do appear to be a significant population. This is the profile that trolled Neelam Gill a young fashion model.
Note, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.
It will take some time to read through the various conversations but see what you think. This was but one of the profiles I was asked to review, by no means was it the worst. I have to say I find it disconcerting that Twitter allow this to continue. Of course we have a right to free speech. But with social media comes social responsibility.
A few questions;
Just who is @DavidClarke00 ?
Are these types of profiles acceptable?
Should social media platforms take more responsibility?
How about you make it your ‘something’?