Discussing McCann Twitter Trolls on Sky News

Last week I was invited into the Sky News central London studio to discuss free speech and ‘trolling’ on social media.  The segment had been prompted by a report by Sky journalist Martin Brunt into a ‘dossier’ of alleged abuse of Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine.

During the discussion I made the distinction between tweets that were abusive or threatening on the one hand, and others that were merely ‘offensive’.  I cited the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on when to prosecute, and also warned at the development of ‘privatised censorship’ where different ideological groups use poorly-worded laws to threaten each other with prosecution.

A viewer recorded the segment off the TV and uploaded it to YouTube.

Immediately following this interview, I recieved several messages on Twitter, both supportive and negative.  This person managed to combine both sentiments:

https://twitter.com/JuneStrenger/status/518005667769376768

In response to the discussions I had with several interlocutors, I wrote:

I also complained that, as yet, the dossier at the centre of the story has not been made public, making it difficult for a disinterested person such as myself to form a view on whether the tweets complained of were offensive, abusive, threatening… or simply rude.

 

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