The online world doesn’t need real-world police
Far from being the Twitter Olympics, London 2012 might well be remembered better as the Censorship Olympics.
Not for the first time the Poms have arrested a young man for using social media to taunt a sports star. Instead of allowing the social media sphere to sort it out itself, which it has a remarkably human capacity to do, police have smashed down a teenager’s door in the middle of the night and hauled him off to face charges.
The UK has a uniquely punishing set of laws designed to curb bullying and racism on social media. Back in March Lucy Kippist wrote on The Punch about the jailing of a young Briton for what he wrote on Twitter about Fabrice Muamba, a Bolton footballer who collapsed on the field.
This time a 17-year-old wrote some nasty stuff about British diver Tom Daley, after he and his diving partner finished fourth in their event. He wasn’t the only one.
A Welsh Premier League footballer has been suspended by his club for a foul homophobic tweet directed at Daley.
There’s no denying what Daley copped was disgusting. No need to repeat it here.
But the world of social media has a tendency to rain down ridicule on people who behave so anti-socially, in a way that the tangible world can be slow to catch up with.
Before he was arrested, the idiotic teen involved had faced an international campaign of outrage. It was spurred on by Daley himself, who instead of using the block button and ignoring @rileyy_69, retweeted the message to his own followers with the message: “After giving it my all…you get idiot’s sending me this”.
There are two options for dealing with a Twitter bully. Block and forget, or call them out and set your fans on them. Daley executed the second manoeuvre with a double pike.
According to this post on Radio Free Europe:
Then the more sophisticated elements of the Internet hate machine went into overdrive—smelling blood, the ambulance-chasers of the meme world and the snarkistas had a new victim. Now @Rileyy_69 was the meme. Videos of him were mashed up and set to music, (here and here), his stupider utterances were Photoshopped onto his more gormless photos, and the tweets of abuse just kept on coming: from other teenagers looking for a fights (digital and real), from lovesick teen girls who felt their beau had been attacked, and from plenty of responsible adults.
See, the internet has its own lynch mobs to kick down virtual doors in the middle of the night - it doesn’t need Bobbies to do its work for it.
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