Almost everyone with a social networking site be it Twitter, Facebook, or even the old Myspace will have attracted unwanted attention or abuse at some point. Sometimes it could be the form of someone expressing their opinion in an unkind way, and other times it can be in an abusive, disgusting way, by someone hidden by a fake profile.
Recently in the news Brenda Leyland, who was revealed to be sending vile messages to the McCann family was confronted by journalist Martin Brunt , when questioned Leyland seemed reluctant to speak and avoided the camera , although she countered with she was “doing nothing illegal”. Shortly after the exposure she was found dead in a hotel room .
A sad story but one which provoked a reaction from many people through Twitter calling for Sky news to sack Martin Brunt – some argue she had a right to anonymity, whilst some side that the journalist was doing his job.
But the whole incident leads to a bigger question; do trolls have the right to be anonymous? Leyland had been bombarding the McCann family with many abusive messages over a period of time, five thousand in a year, naturally causing even more distress, granted everyone is entitled to an opinion, but once you begin to seriously upset others that needs to be addressed.
With increasing amounts of celebrities turning to social media sites trolling is now becoming a regular occurrence but as of late people are now striking out against it. With the world rapidly becoming a smaller place it’s becoming easier and easier to identify people, an example being a young student who sent particularly vile tweets to academic Mary Beard, only to be informed that a fellow tweeter was a friend of his mothers and would inform her of his behaviour. Upon becoming aware of this the troll ceased his attacks on Mary and apologised.
With the line between expressing an opinion and verbal abuse becoming increasingly blurred perhaps it is time to adapt to the old, would you say it in public? Before posting it online. These days you can never be too sure of just who is watching you.