It appears that some users on social networking site Twitter really do need somebody to watch over them whilst they tweet away. Recent stories in the media have shown at best a lack of common sense from users and at worst a basic lack of human respect for individuals; it’s probably more a mix of both.
With the recent revelations that users on Twitter revealed the name of a rape victim and then proceeded to abuse her over the social network, it means that either people aren’t thinking before they write online, or Twitter and other social networks have become a platform for the most vile people across the world. The victim had already obtained a court order that prevented her from being named, but that didn’t seem to matter to Twitter users. According to reports, the victim’s name was retweeted and tweeted so many times that it was trending over the weekend, meaning it was one of the most talked about things on Twitter at that time. It’s pretty sickening to be honest. I have never once thought of naming somebody on a social network like that, especially somebody who is a victim of such a heinous crime.
Not content with naming the victim, users then went on to abuse her and degrade her further. In my recent article about cyberbullying, this is exactly the type of example I referred to. These users hide behind their keyboard; they write these vile things and then watch when the media hype around the social network increases tenfold. These bullies aren’t school children. A lot of them are grown adults. Grown adults, who you’d think would know better. Clearly not. It’s obvious that instead of employing babysitters for their own children, they need to employ Twitter-sitters so they don’t overstep the mark when taking to the site to tweet their thoughts. Most of these thoughts aren’t even needed anyway.
What needs to be done? Well, obviously this problem won’t be resolved overnight, no problem can be. It’s important that the correct safeguards are put in place, because prosecuting every user who retweets or tweets something that is offensive and illegal would be a logistical nightmare. Ordinary people need to understand that just because they are writing online, they still have to stick to the same laws as in everyday life. The same rules and laws apply, even though it may be through a social network. It is all about basic human understanding, and the vast majority of us respect and abide by the law so why do some of the same users think they don’t have to when they are tweeting?
It’s not clear why these people tweeted or retweeted what they did over the weekend, but it is clear that the authorities and the government are determined to make examples out of them, and that’s a good thing. Whilst legislation is being drawn up and discussed by the government, I think it is important to shine a light on such cases of illegality on social networks, and to make examples of those users who commit offences so that other users can see real life consequences of what happens when something illegal is published on a social network.