Death threats, rape threats, refugees demonised, EU citizens told to go home, a Muslim Mayor targeted with islamophobia, a Jewish MP bombarded with anti-Semitic threats, young women campaigners called traitors or scum. Political debate online is being poisoned and it has to stop.. Time to start reporting, speaking out, standing up for others who are being targeted. They say evil triumphs when good people do nothing. Time for all of us to do something to stand up for decency, civility and respect for other human beings. Tim Berners-Lee said when he invented the world wide web, "this is for everyone." Lets make sure it stays so.
Today's amazing technology means we can easily keep in touch with friends and family abroad and share our life experiences with our nearest and dearest, but it comes at a price. Our text conversations have jumped over to real life as we shun the use of please and thank you and speak in abbreviations.
I have been around online abuse for years, as have the majority of other politicians, and I couldn't fathom how people weren't aware of the scale of trolling. It happens right under everyone's noses, in clear daylight. Why does it take something so extreme, so abhorrent, such as Jess Philips MP and her band of demented abusers threatening to rape her, for other users to sit up and react?
In the last couple of weeks I have spoken to five different young women who told me they were going to stop posting blogs and tweeting about their politics and their views... More than the violent, threatening and blatant misogyny, the worst element of this is the "shut up" bit. The "shut up bitch" is working. Women are shutting up. Not because they are scared, not because they believe the threats but because it is so tiring that whenever you speak you face hatred because of the make up of your chromosomes.
From a quiet, what I would view as a normal life in London, my whole life was initially turned upside down when these images, accompanied by the overwhelming messages of support, first appeared on Twitter. From not having any social media presence at all, within 72 hours I was to have over 70,000 followers. All of these carried the same sentiment that enough was enough and the time had come to stop making the trolling of people the norm and to use social media for the good that it was surely created for.
We're not a commodity and, contrary to hotels, cars, books etc. we have feelings and emotions, and are essentially pretty fragile individuals who really don't need - as the Register has dubbed it - 'slander-as-a-service'. How anyone could think this even vaguely a clever idea, and not a malicious, odious platform for bullying and nastiness is beyond me.
Now, every social platform has its own internal universe of slang terms, in-jokes, unreadable acronyms and memes, and the rules of discourse on Twitter are not those of general conversation. This doesn't, however, mean that discussions on social media exist in an online bubble, isolated from the world, and language, at large.