We’ve got to fight back against these bigoted Twitter trolls

Caroline Criado Perez faced a menacing tirade on the micro-blogging site, including threats to rape and kill her, after she succeeded in her crusade to have a woman's picture placed on a new banknote. Police have questioned a man in connection with the torrent of abuse as Twitter faced repeated calls to ramp up its security policies. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/PA Wire
Caroline Criado Perez faced a menacing tirade on the micro-blogging site, including threats to rape and kill her, after she succeeded in her crusade to have a woman's picture placed on a new banknote. Police have questioned a man in connection with the torrent of abuse as Twitter faced repeated calls to ramp up its security policies. Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/PA Wire
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Give some people enough rope and they will hang themselves. Modern day proof is the vile abuse spilled out on Twitter.

Give some people enough rope and they will hang themselves. Modern day proof is the vile abuse spilled out on Twitter.

Social networking is an idealistic dream finally come true; it creates an environment for free speech even in countries where it’s censored. It was never the dream that anonymous rape and death threats and vile verbal attacks would be contributed to the public forum, but in reality, it was inevitable that it would become part and parcel. Society contains amoral, hatred-filled, sexist, racist, homophobic people and so they now have staked their place in the twitter community. They’re loving the fact that they now have a public platform to air their bigotry.

Twitter just stood back and fluffed up its feathers a bit. But this week, a groundswell has forced its bosses to act. Some 70,000 signed an online petition demanding a button allowing users to easily report abusive tweets. And Twitter are on with it.

Will the Twitter button be of any use, though? That’s the big question. Abusive comments are so commonplace, how will the Twitter police be able to react to every complaint? And if abusers get their accounts closed down, they can set up another and go on the vile warpath again under another fake name. How can that be prevented?

Change has got to come from us. We’ve got to shame the abusers, not in an exchange on Twitter - that’s just playing into their hands - but in the real world. Just as historian Mary Beard has done after being labelled a filthy old slut simply for appearing on TV. Just as journalist and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez has done by reporting to police those who tweeted threats of rape and murder, all because she got Jane Austen’s face on the new £10 note. Stella Creasy, the MP whose support drew rape threats to her Twitter account, has also reported her trolls.

We all need to do our bit to clean up Twitter. Why should the dregs of society bring it down? Outing the trolls has got to become the norm.