Online bullying and trolling have always been serious issues, after the recent GamerGate spat and various other incidents of online harassment, Labour MP Luciana Berger is asking Twitter to do more to prevent abuse.
Berger was recently involved in an internet abuse campaign, where 2,500 tweets were sent out to the Labour MP using the hashtag "filthyjewbitch" in three days.
Garron Helm was sentenced to a four-week custodial sentence, due to his tweets sent to Berger. The police found SS memorabilia in his house, and found evidence of online abuse against David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
The prison sentence demonstrates the Police's willingness to take action, but Berger wants anti-semantic tweets to be blocked before they are published. According to Berger; other hate material should also be checked actively by Twitter.
“Online hate needs to be taken as seriously as offline hate - but it isn’t. Twitter’s response isn’t good enough. It has a responsibility to do more to protect its users.” she said.
“The site is letting me and many others down who have been the subject of lots of hate. It could start by automatically banning racist words which aren’t allowed to be printed in newspapers or broadcast on TV that could never be used in a positive way.”
Twitter has confirmed in a statement it is working hard to stop abuse, but claims Berger’s ideas will not stop abuse. Twitter recently partnered with WAM (Women, Action & The Media) to block harassers from the site quicker.
Hashtags are an excellent way to organise campaigns, and sadly this is true for hate campaigns as well. The issue for Twitter is keeping on the fine line between blocking trolls and harassment, and censoring voices.
Anonymity on Twitter makes it much easier for harassers to get away with attacks, especially if they understand how to hide their IP. Twitter does not seem to want to force users to add their real names, similar to Facebook’s new policy.