Gabby Logan shows us exactly what to do about Twitter trolls
When she experienced sexist abuse at the hands of a Twitter user, after sharing her thoughts about football on the social networking site, Gabby Logan didn't waste any time in letting her 372,000 followers know exactly what had happened.
And it worked. Shortly after she retweeted the message, along with the tongue-in-cheek "this is freelance web designer and latent feminist Glen," @GlenWebLondon — thought to be London-based Glen Hughes — vanished from the site.
TV sports presenter Logan was inundated with praise from her followers and responded with, "Occasionally you just need to deliver a little upper cut for your own sanity don’t you think?"
But should it only be occasional? It's not the first time Logan, 41, has named and shamed a Twitter troll. Last month she shared a sexist comment from @garywall001, which said: "@GabbyLogan you’re s*** on motd [Match Of The Day] get some ironing done." Logan replied: "The thing is I am a woman so I can do both."
Last October TV presenter Richard Madeley said he would prosecute Twitter trolls who sent "sick rape threats" to his daughter Chloe, after she spoke up on Twitter in defence of her mother Judy Finnigan, who made controversial comments about Ched Evans, the footballer who was convicted of rape.
A few days later, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said internet trolls in England and Wales could face up to two years in jail under changes to the Malicious Communications Act, which came into force long before social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook became a breeding ground for trolls. Currently those who subject others to sexually offensive, verbally abusive or threatening material online are prosecuted in magistrates' courts under the Act, with a maximum jail term of six months. The changes mean more serious offences can be dealt with in the Crown Court and victims will have up to three years (as opposed to six months previously) to bring prosecutions against trolls.
Unfortunately it doesn't seem that the threat of jail is enough to silence vicious online trolls — who of course find targets all over the internet, not just on Twitter. A survey carried out last year by Harris Interactive’s *SocialLife tracker revealed that one in 12 of all social media users had experienced some form of trolling, with 16- to 24-year-old females being the most commonly targeted group (almost one in five reported a case of online bullying).
Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, admitted recently that his company needs to improve its methods of dealing with trolls and acknowledged that, when it came to "abuse and trolls on the platform," the company has had problems for "years."
A Twitter spokesperson told the BBC that the company investigates every complaint about trolling: "We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit impersonation and targeted abuse. If we find the accounts are violating our rules, we will suspend them."
What's the best way to deal with a troll who's ruining your social media experience? Many people recommend simply turning a blind eye as "feeding" a troll with attention may encourage them to continue. However Gabby Logan has shown that, sometimes, standing up for yourself and making the world aware of what someone is doing is enough to stop them. It certainly doesn't look like @GlenWebLondon will be abusing anyone on Twitter any time soon.
If a troll is making threats against you or your family report it to the police immediately.
*SocialLife is Harris Interactive's quarterly tracker of social media use in the U.K. Results were based on a survey of 5,517 online U.K. citizens aged 11 to 95 years during September and October 2013.