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Wednesday, 1 August 2012


I've deliberately tried my best not to blog about the abusive Twitter user who launched an unjustified attack on Tom Daley recently. I didn't want to give the guy my time, but some of his tweets and other online contributions really wound the users of Twitter up and led to him being reported to and arrested by Dorset Police.

And so began a media storm (albeit a small one) about the 17 year old man arrested for being critical of Tom Daley's dive. The media love a story about anything to do with online abuse and/or uproar by users of any social network. They like to report the incredible Other Culture to those who don't use these networks as though we were a mob on vigilant lookout for a misbehaving target 24/7. This is only partly fair. Yes, there are those who jump on any old nasty bugger, with torches and pitchforks, and try to push them off Twitter. Some of this "mob" are the tutting over-moral bandwagon-jumpers who want nothing more than to show everyone else in their social circle just how right on and moral they are; just how outraged they are by anything, be it suppression of free speech or that same free speech taken a tad too far. The others are nasty trolls themselves, no better than their target, who see this single horrible sod as a fair target. Both are wrong, but that's neither here nor there because free speech means both sets - and I've been a part of both sets before now, unfortunately - can do this.

However. If the media are going to report on this particular issue, which they are loving doing, they should probably get their facts straight! The BBC reported on the news last night that "a 17 year old man has been arrested after Tweeting Tom Daley, saying that he has let his late father down". This is not true. Yes, the tweeter told Daley he had let his father down after his dive, but this wasn't the reason for his arrest. It was simply the loudest of his tweets - the side effect of being re-tweeted by an Olympic Sportsman - and the one which drew attention to his already vulgar, racist and homophobic time line packed with death threats, abuse and downright unpleasantness.

Also unearthed was a YouTube video which sees this tweeter (I STILL don't want to use his name) threatening another user, recent Twitter-famous target Olly Riley - who was attacked by many tweeting under #OllyRileyIsAPedo for daring to tell his followers that he thought girls in long socks are sexy (a sentiment I'm in complete agreement with, incidentally!), resulting in a stream of photos from his teenage fan base's long-socked legs. Our recent Twitter Twat told Olly that he was going to find him and kill him. The video contained over 70 uses of the word 'fuck', at least five 'cunts' and many more 'f's and b's', along with so much table-kicking that it's a wonder the camera stayed put.

So this guy was not arrested for daring to criticise a diver but due to his unruly and hateful online presence as a whole. His YouTube video and his Twitter time line were both full of racial abuse and death threats, apparently apropos of nothing. This wasn't an arrest based on criticism of a sportsman, or a breach of this guy's right to free speech. This was an arrest undertaken after the violent and abusive threatening of many. You can't clap that that fella went to jail for having a go at a black footballer, then tut when this guy gets picked up. And also, it's nothing at all like the Paul Chambers case, however much you argue it is.

So, papers and TV: Please stop using headlines like "Tweeter Arrested For Criticising Daley" because that is not accurate. You lose credibility every time you cherry-pick your facts; see Aurora Shooting coverage.

Rant over. Glad to get this out of my system. Sorry this post is a garbled mess. Anyway... I'm off to the Olympics tomorrow! Yay!