They call it “Trolliday”. Show your support for victims of intensive and targeted harassment by boycotting Twitter for a single day.
The original plan was to use people power — lots of people working together with a single aim — to force Twitter into adding a ‘Report Abuse’ button. I’ve added a report abuse button to this blog, too. Click it for a demonstration of how useful Twitter’s report abuse button is going to be at stopping targeted harassment:
But Twitter, having had a lot of negative publicity for their platform have decided it’s probably for the best if they just add the button to make the problem go away. Doesn’t really matter what the button does or how it works behind the scenes. It’s a button. People love buttons.
So why is “Trolliday” still going ahead regardless? And what’s with calling these people ‘trolls’? “Troll” being a cutesy term for people who wind other people up for the lulz. That’s…. that’s not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is terrorism.
Terrorism is the use of fear and intimidation to achieve political ends. Making sure there’s a woman on British banknotes? Political. Some journalist abusing a minority in a column? Political. The war for what our culture should be is being literally fought out on the Internet.
To me, sustained threats of violence, rape, murder along with more general abuse from hundreds of people targeted at an individual? That’s not trolling. That’s war.
The aim? To silence the enemy and prevent others taking their place. The worst thing is that it works. It works really really well. Sometimes it’s intensive, targeting bullying and other times it’s just the general background noise on Twitter where you see your allies and friends mocked and abused for holding different opinions, different ideas and beliefs. Do you stand your ground, do you stick up for your friends? Or do you keep your mouth shut to avoid the aggravation of a confrontation?
I think all too often I’ve been guilty of the latter. Increasingly so. I don’t feel as free to express my opinion as I once did.
So, the way I see it? Disappearing off Twitter for a day is like protesting against the Taliban by pulling your girls out of school. It’s giving them exactly what they want.
And that’s why this is the wrong action to be taking. Tony Blair and George Bush’s kneejerk reaction to terrorism has turned airports into the most miserable places on earth, has extended the surveillance state and very nearly caused us to end up with ID cards. I thought we’d learnt that the best way to stand against terrorism is to refuse to change our way of life, to not let the terrorists win?
Freedom of speech is something that can be taken away from you by a self-selecting mob, no matter what rights the state gives you. The state promises not to interfere with your freedom of expression but that doesn’t prevent others having a go.
The only rational response is to never let yourself be silenced.
Perhaps I’ll continue being a hypocrite and keep my own mouth shut… but I mean to try harder to actually use the rights I have. And that’s why I’m going to tweet until my fingers cramp up on Trolliday. What’s needed isn’t solidarity. It’s holding the line.
Update: Lots of people having problems with the Report Abuse button. Here’s another button to report technical problems: