Thursday, 2 August 2012

Wasting police time...and a solution

So, some people have said nasty things on Twitter this week that got in the news:
Police said the teenager was given a harassment warning before being bailed pending an investigation into other communications on his Twitter account.
Shortly after missing out on a medal on Monday, Daley retweeted the message from the boy which said: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."
He then responded to the tweet by posting: "After giving it my all...you get idiot's sending me this..."
That's obviously not a nice thing to say given that Tom Daley lost his father to cancer not so long ago, but given that the sender is likely after a reaction, why retweet it to nearly a million followers? To defend Tom, I suspect that it was a heat of the moment thing and besides, it wasn't him who complained to the police, somebody else was offended on his behalf...

The case that I found more interesting was that of Kirstie Allsopp:
Kirstie Allsopp, the television presenter, has reported two teenage girls to the police after they sent her abusive online messages telling her to “squat on a Christmas tree”.
The two 15-year-old schoolgirls directed a further string of aggressive and bullying taunts to the Location, Location, Location host including instructions on how to kill herself. They also told Miss Allsopp she was “like a mince pie – bland and crumbly”.
Let's see the build up to this and how Miss Allsopp handled the situation:


Ah, so instead of blocking the users after the first abusive tweet, she put a shout out to her 235k follows to try and track them down.


Two days later and she's still out for revenge!


But it could have been dealt with without bothering the police Kirstie.  You could have stopped all of this quickly and quietly by blocking the pair and perhaps reporting them to Twitter for good measure. But no.

I don't believe for one minute that Miss Allsopp is either stupid, naive, or a delicate flower that needs her sensibilities protected, so the only reason for her actions is attention seeking. What is particularly telling is the following in the Telegraph article published on 1st August:
Neither Merseyside Police nor the Metropolitan Police have yet to receive Miss Allsopp’s report.
As Twitter is a fairly new phenomenon, I reckon that the police need a bit of direction in dealing with these sort of complaints.  Here's my slant on it:

1. If you don't block the user for the first tweet that you find offensive, there's no case.
2. If you don't report the user to Twitter for abuse then there's no case.
3. If you retweet the offending tweet or otherwise incite your followers to take any sort of action against the abusive user then there's no case.
4. If the abuse is not directed at you (and this unfortunately requires a change in the law as someone can be offended on someone else's behalf and it can still be a crime) then there's no case.

If you ignore points 1 to 4 then you're nicked for wasting police time. A few cases of this given high profile in the papers would stop all of this shit from the likes of attention seeking Allsopp and the professionally offended. You're adults - fucking deal with it. The police have far better things to do.

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