Steve Nimmons
Academic and Author researching policing in smart cities

Threat of the Shadow Bullies

Odious Twitter Trolls are the worst kind of digital coward. They are shadow bullies.

Their unholy work this week included subjecting Stella Creasy MP and Caroline Criado-Perez to a barrage of violent sexual abuse. The Trolls’ calumny Olympiad has graduated to making bomb threats against a number of female journalists.

I wrote earlier this week about the scale of the issue Twitter has to tackle. Against a pessimistic backdrop I do welcome news of arrests in the aforementioned case.

Professor Mary Beard recently turned the tables on a Troll using ‘name and shame’ tactics to great effect. It is delighting and amusing to read that Beard’s Troll retreated in apology after finding that his ‘naughty boy actions’ were to be revealed to his mother.

Twitter chiefs will be called before an online protection Parliamentary Select Committee to outline their response to recent incidents in the UK.

With Twitter job postings hinting at a forthcoming IPO they will need to work hard to reassure potential investors that risks of legal action will not make it an unsafe investment.

Shadow bullies might damage more than the peace and wellbeing of their immediate victims. Negative headlines and criminal investigations could affect Twitter’s attractiveness to financial speculators.

Trolls Repent! Responsible free speech is a democratic right and privilege to be cherished. Before spewing forth your bile, think of the price others pay for digital freedom. Otherwise grow up – or we’ll tell your mum!

About the Author
Steve Nimmons is an academic, writer and technologist specialising in criminology, security and policing. His research includes smart cities, digital policing models and public protection through design of smart urban environments.