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When Social Media Needs Policing

Twitter now boasts over 500,000,000 users Worldwide. Facebook nearly double that at just shy of a billion. Yes, a billion.

That means that one in seven people have a Facebook account and one in every 14 use Twitter. Those are four pretty incredibly statistics, but I wonder how many of those one billion accounts are actually legitimate. How many are spammers? How many are people creating accounts to abuse other users and hide their identity?

I recently read an article posted on the BBC  detailing how studies have shown significant numbers of fake accounts, created just to “like” pages on Facebook. To like something and in return hope for a like or friend request themselves. Accounts created for no real reason, clocking up thousands of friends or page likes. People are paying Facebook hundreds or thousands of pounds to advertise themselves and in return, they’re getting fake accounts liking their pages. Users are being misled into believing that real people are enjoying their posts when in reality they’ll never actually look at their content.

If it’s now factual information that these accounts exist primarily for this purpose then how many exist that are used specifically to abuse other people? Bullying is a common problem, most people have gone through it in some form at school and bullies are usually dealt with. How is it right that people should be allowed to do this online and go un-punished? How is it right for these people to hide behind their computer screens and say things they would never usually say? Why isn’t social media better policed?

This afternoon, Tom Daley missed out on a silver medal in the Olympic synchronised diving competition for Team GB. Daley and his teammate Peter Waterfield were widely tipped for medal success but after a poor dive mid way through the event, they missed out. Daley, who lost his Dad after a long battle with cancer last May was subsequently abused on Twitter by a teenage scumbag.

Rileyy_69 who has been a member of Twitter for only 8 months, has his location as “The Milky Way” (minus the capital letters, of course) and his url listed as a porn website tweeted Daley saying; “you let your dad down i hope you know that.” Then minutes later, tweeted again, writing; “sit your ass back down tommy and don’t get on a diving board again my little brother could do better absolute waste of space.”

Initial tweet.

Initial tweet.

More tweets followed from the user who has seen his followers somehow rise by tens of thousands to 37,624 and absurdly, continue to do so at about 1000 every five minutes.

The user quickly apologised just a few minutes later, before finding out Sky News were reporting on the incident live on TV. Following this, he tweeted threats to Sky News themselves and then restarted his abusive tweets to Daley.

'Apologising'.

‘Apologising’.

Rileyy_69’s Twitter feed is full of abusive tweets to various other users. Littered with threats, lots of swearing and general un-pleasantness. Thousands of other users have called for Twitter to ban him but no action has been taken as yet. As a service that usually keeps everyone up to date quicker than live news broadcasts and has over 340m tweets per day, why is it taking them so long to take action? It’s literally a case of them disabling his account and preventing him creating a new one, from which he can generate more abuse.

More abuse.

More abuse.

This is just one instance of this kind of event and with another 500 million users of Twitter alone out there, how much more is this happening? More importantly, why isn’t it being more closely policed? I dread to think how many times Rileyy_69 has been reported today, via Twitter. Yet, there’s still no action. If there was a fight in the street and 1000 people called the Police on the same matter, they’d be round there pretty quickly, would they not?

It’s just this kind of thing that gives social media a bad name at times. I’m certain the guy wouldn’t say these things to Daley’s face, nor threaten a huge company in person.

With such a large user base, I understand it is hard to police everything. I’m not suggesting a team of people are employed to read through a third of a million tweets every day incase someone says something a bit abusive. However, in such a scenario when a user has clearly been reported thousands of times, trended worldwide, been featured on a number of news stations and online blogs for all the wrong reasons, how is it possible that nothing is done? It surely cannot be hard to notice this amongst the other data they receive.

I hope Twitter and other social media companies take note of these instances and begin to properly clamp down on it. It’s sickening to have this kind of thing happen and even more so for it to go without some form of punishment.

If you too would like to report this imbecile, then head over to his profile, click the button above his account stats and hit ‘report’.


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