07/04/2013 14:22 BST | Updated 06/06/2013 06:12 BST

How Offending Harry Styles Could Cost Me My Life... Seriously.


It's always refreshing to get feedback from a reader, but this one takes the biscuit.

I came across this lovely tweet after vainly searching my name on the social networking site to see if any of my recent articles had left an impression. Don't judge me, we all... OK, a lot of... I mean, well, some of us do it.

And maybe I'm just being big headed to think I'm the 'HANNA FLINT' referred to in their aggressive post, but as the user's previous tweet shares one of my latest write-ups, I put all my journalistic powers to work to deduce that I am in fact, the person they want shot.

Clearly my piece on One Direction becoming Maddame Tussauds waxworks really hit a nerve with this fan. Maybe their ire stemmed from my opening line suggesting a photo with the wax figure could be just as good as one with the real Harry Styles? Or they could have falsely assumed the comments made by DM readers reflected my own opinion of the boyband.

However big or most likely small an offence I caused with the article I doubt that really justifies this troll putting a bounty on my head.

I've written on the subject of internet trolling in the past so I find it interesting calling myself the 'victim' for the first time, and technically, putting myself in the same category as Tom Daley, Miranda Hart and Louise Mensch.

What an awkward Scrabble game that would be.

But it's not that I feel too victimised or worried that I may come face-to-face with a crazed tweenager wearing a 'I want Harry's babies' T-shirt, with a Zayn Malik doll in one hand and a BB gun pointed at my head in the other.

(I assume this is the only firearm someone like that would be able to get their hands on.)

I just have to say, it is getting ridiculous that people are using this fantastic platform to incite negativity and violence rather than use it for what it was made for: to share information and communicate with people across the globe in a revolutionary way.

For far too long now, Twitter is being ravaged by people using the site's functionality as a tool for hate rather than a medium for good.

This particular tweeter - and I won't mention their handle, as I wouldn't want the person to either be a victim of abuse themselves or enjoy more followers as a result of their hateful 140 characters or less.

No, this tweeter, is clearly an ignorant soul who doesn't understand the ramifications of his or her actions. There's a difference between uttering a statement in the lonely confines of your room than writing a violent message in a tangible form online for the world to see.

In this country we've seen careless trolls like Liam Stacey go to jail for what they thought were 'harmless' racist tweets that no-one would read. For them, I don't believe that incarceration is the answer, considering the rising UK prison population over the last few years and the system's inability to handle the influx of offenders.

The solution should come from Twitter more vehemently monitoring their feeds and users to close the stage to those abusing their terms of use.

More and more people are looking to the social site for news and opinion rather than TV, radio and print outlets, which are governed by a journalistic code of practice enforced by Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission.

As a journalist working for a national newspaper that must take accountability for what its staff and contributors publish through all its channels, then, I think it is certainly time for the guys behind the blue bird to start taking responsibility for their own platform too.

But to finish, I'd like to address the person who wants to shoot me.

Sorry kid, if you didn't like that story about Harry then I wouldn't read my follow up on him styling his hair in the back of a cab.

You'll want to hang me for that one.