Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Twitter Trolls Could See Themselves Unmasked

The Daily Telegraph and Australian Government have partnered with celebrities to write a petition that they hope will force Twitter to unmask anonymous trolls who use their accounts to bully others. According to the Herald Sun in Australia, "#StoptheTrolls ... Michael Clarke, Charlotte Dawson and Ben Barba have all signed up to tackle cyber bullying." 

That isn't the end of the list!

Here are some quotes from the Herald Sun:

"Attorney-General Nicola Roxon is also behind the campaign: "Cyber bullying is reprehensible and has no place in our society."

"celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment also taking a stand, including NRL superstar Ben Barba, AFL convert Israel Folau and Australian cricket captain  Michael Clarke, who boasts more than 285,000 Twitter followers."

Read the entire article here

Police are very concerned that they cannot chase down anonymous Twitter users who are being abusive because Twitter will go to great lengths to protect the identity of its users.

Shortwave America is on board with this effort, but there are concerns on this side of the fence. What exactly will be considered cyber-bullying? As we know it now, cyber-bullying is only seen and defined as the really clear cases of extreme abuse. Those of us who have been in the entertainment industry as writers, broadcasters, or in other entertainment capacities want anonymous abusers named and shamed, but we have to be careful what we call "abuse".

As evidenced by this last quote from the Herald Sun article:

"Broadcaster Ray Hadley has been the victim of trolls but while he was speaking out against abusers on his 2GB show yesterday, Parliamentary Secretary Mike Kelly took to Twitter to attack him.

"An airwaves troll trolling the digital trollers. We've come full circle," the Labor MP wrote.
Hadley fired back: "If Mr Kelly has got time to tweet as often as he appears to, the PM needs to give him more to do."

If a difference of opinions and / or ideas like we see in the above situation will be considered abuse and subject to prosecution in the name of stopping cyber-bullies, the money and resources, the manpower, and the use of the courts will be so excessive that the idea of cyber-bullying will not be taken seriously by anyone, and effective solutions will lose their teeth.

Cyber-bullying is serious, sometimes it's dead serious. People around the world have taken their lives or in the least, have been hospitalized for medical or psychiatric treatment due to the massive trauma that can be inflicted. If we are to combat cyber-bullying by using legislation and law enforcement, let's do it by defining abuse as something very specific with real capability to do real harm and make sure the person / people we're nailing for it actually performed their actions with real criminal intent.

If we allow anything and everything to be called abuse from a civil or criminal perspective, say good-bye to free speech and internet anonymity! Everyone who comes across this, please urge your legislators, law enforcement, and major influences to use common sense before going overboard and causing this whole cause to lose credibility!