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"Anonymous comments, gutless trolls, and why it's time we all stop drinking this digital poison"


GDPR

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"Anonymous comments, gutless trolls, and why it's time we all stop drinking this digital poison"

The title quote is from Robert Fisk writing in The Independent (London) on 10 January. Anonymous comments, gutless trolls, and why it's time we all stop drinking this digital poison - Comment - Voices - The Independent

For a moment, after reading the first paragraph of the article, I thought he was talking about p.ie in particular.

Fisk reports that an Irish TD committed suicide because of a rash of online hate-mail:
Just before Christmas, an Irish minister of state, Shane McEntee, committed suicide after receiving a swath of online hate-mail. At his funeral, his brother Gerry was applauded when he attacked social media: “Shame on you people, you faceless cowards who sent him horrible messages on the website and on text, shame on you.” Shane McEntee had been particularly condemned for defending government cuts to Ireland’s respite care programme and, anyway, I’m not sure that anonymous emails kill. Newspapers persecute people, too, but at least editors have an address.​
I did read a bit of the thread about McEntee's death on p.ie but I did not know the reason for it.

Fisk is arguing for non-anonymous comment on the Internet. He thinks "moderators" are useless:
Chat rooms and comment sections of online newspapers often claim to have a “moderator” – a craven expression since it suggests that the abused and the abuser are equally guilty or innocent – who can remove “inappropriate” material. This is a bit like saying that Hitler could sometimes make “inappropriate” remarks. Indeed, reading a book over Christmas about the Nazi rise to power in Germany, I found that many NSDAP (Nazi party) threats in the thirties did read like web insults.

So what to do? Online comments are often factually wrong, but anonymity allows writers to use vulgar and abusive language to support their lies. They often fail what has been called “the quality test” – rigorously applied, for example, when newspaper editors refuse to publish letters without a name and some form of address. We are talking about verifiable comment.​
Fisk mentions that both the French and Irish governments are considering new legislation against Internet abuse, the French in particular against some Twitter abuse that is racist, anti-semitic and homophobic, but Twitter won't reveal the identities of some of the culprits to the French because they posted from California. Fisk also mentions the Malicious Communications Act of 1988 - but not which country's. Presumably it is UK law because he is writing for The Independent. So that legislation won't apply to malicious abusers in other countries.

Do you think there needs to be international uniform legislation to counter web abuse? This could be a solution, but almost impossible to implement. Even to start the process imho there will be great difficulties to get agreement between different countries and blocs.

As for anonymity, I am in favour of it still even though I agree with Fisk that it can be taken advantage of by malicious posters. Our anonymity may be short-lived, however, and then what will happen to politics.ie and similar websites?
 


SideysGhost

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I'm somewhat surprised at someone like Fisk jumping on the luddite bandwagon.

I also thought the notion that McEntee killed himself because of Facebook comments had been thoroughly debunked at this stage.
 

Astral Peaks

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Fisk jumping to conclusions again, becoming more and more his SOP.

McEntee's death had nothing to do with online abuse.......
 

R3volution_R3ady

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The internet is the last remaining platform for free speech and a free media. They'll viciously attack it until they totally control it. Free people discussing and debating online is far too dangerous to them.
 
D

Dylan2010

if there was any logic too it, this shower and the last shower would all be pushing up daisies by now. The guy is talking horse manure.
 

Armchair Activist

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more godless propeganda 5hite.

quite convenient politicians are scrambling to force legislation that would prosecute internet rumours when the Jimmy saville fallout is just beginning.

Free speech I say.. people need to stop been so sensitive. If innocent, nothing to fear.
 

Clanrickard

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It's just an excuse to go after anonymous political speech.
Note he mentions homophobic and hate speech. Leftists love curtailing free speech. I am surprised at Fisk.
 

Davidoff

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It's a complex situation. And I have genuine sympathy for ordinary people who run into problems.

But I think public figures need to be a lot less thin-skinned about online comments.
 

OCicero

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The internet is the last remaining platform for free speech and a free media. They'll viciously attack it until they totally control it. Free people discussing and debating online is far too dangerous to them.
Politicans and the paper pulp hacks are worried about their votes and jobs, of course they are going to attack the new media with everything they've got.
 

theObserver@hotmail.com

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No I don't think there needs to be international uniform legislation to counter web abuse. Such legislation will quickly become a tool by governments, religions and commercial operations to regulate and control the internet. At the very least 'mission creep' will set in.

No-one forces people to use twitter or facebook or p.ie. People can write and moderate their own blogs or web pages.
 
G

Gimpanzee

But I think public figures need to be a lot less thin-skinned about online comments.
Public figures, humans, usually, shouldn't have to put up with abuse any more than non-public figures. This sort of attitude is what black footballers have battled with for years.
 

Tough Paddy

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Whatever about Facebook, some of the comments on here were disgusting.
Indeed! We even had one poster calling a public rep and I quote a "nasty bastard" on here about a week ago. I reported the post and of course not one iota of action was taken against the post. Then in the same breath, we had a clueless mod who was clearly having a bad day or perhaps had been on the sauce all day or something giving out infractions/warnings like they were going out of fashion for what were by and large innocuous posts in the KPMG thread. Come back David Cochrane, all is forgiven!
 

R3volution_R3ady

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Politicans and the paper pulp hacks are worried about their votes and jobs, of course they are going to attack the new media with everything they've got.
Fascism. How definitely lost ordinary folk are in their delusion. There really is no hope for them. You can see the deluded all over this site.
 

ManOfReason

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He complains that a friend wanted a twitter post removed but would have had to join twitter to remove it. If I wanted an article retraction issued by the Independent I suspect I would have to hire a team of layers to do so. It is nothing but hypocritical nonsense.

Anonymous internet postings only carry the weight of their argument - i.e. the stupid abusive ones have no credibility, while the clever or insightful ones my actually have some impact.

Rober Fisk has always taken himself too seriously and is probably dismayed to discover that are millions of other people out there that can deliver predictable, knee-jerk responses to the issues of the day.
 

ottovonbismarck

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Whatever about Facebook, some of the comments on here were disgusting.
He voted for cuts that inflicted extra financial hardship on disabled people. Don't threat him like a hero. All he had to do was vote no and stand up to the bullies in FG.
 

Radix

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Fisk jumping to conclusions again, becoming more and more his SOP.

McEntee's death had nothing to do with online abuse.......

I might tend to agree, but neither of us know either way for sure.

One thing is for certain however, the online abuser doesn't just hurt the focus of his/her abuse. They further wallow themselves in the mire of half arsed mediocrity, while tainting the online environment adversely for the more vulnerable among us.

Some of personal stuff posted here is beyond vile.

Earlier in the week a poster published a comment to the effect that priests take a prolife position because it ensures a ready supply of children for the "kiddy fiddlers" in their midst.

I reported it, but it's still there.

What do you think might be the reaction of a simple minded decent but vulnerable church person reading this online hate filled 'comment'? The culture of death is blooming in Ireland.

But sure anyway, at least we have Enda and Eamo, real leaders in our time of need....
 

Northtipp

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A moratorium on these type of feedback threads would be nice. Then again, I understand tha if fair play was adhered to we wouldn't need them. I do think it's improved over the week but I haven't been on that much so maybe judgement should be reserved.

tPaddy, you know I went to town on the McEntee and KPMG threads . I honestly dont feel " nasty bastard" is the worst in the world. All about context though I guess.

Anyway I'm away to block the roads until I get my flag hoisted over Cashel .
 

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