Sir Jeffrey: Verification needed to tackle online 'wild west'

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has condemned abuse directed at Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds online.

He said, "There is a real need to call time on the 'wild west' online where a small number of people believe they can say or do what they like without consequence. No-one should be expected to just accept or ignore disgusting abuse, particularly that faced by many female public representatives.

Whilst we recognise the difficulties that Police have in pursuing anonymous trolls on social media, we welcome the decision of the PSNI to launch an investigation into this particular tweet and the person responsible for it. We believe this to be a hate crime and it is important that those who engage in such behaviour are held to account.

Like most online cowards, this latest abuse directed at Diane Dodds came from someone hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. This must be addressed and a verification process introduced. The social media platforms point to their reporting mechanisms but it is abundantly clear these don't work.

Even in this latest case the Twitter response is that despite such disgusting abuse, they don't find it to be "a violation of our rules". Even had Twitter decided to take action in this case and remove the account there would be nothing to stop this individual from simply starting afresh with a new username and the cycle could continue again. This is a deliberate choice by the social media platforms but it must stop.

It has been gratifying to see a strong condemnation from many people in response to this abuse, but that does not tackle the root cause of the problem. Unfortunately self-regulation by social media companies has not worked so legislative action such as the Online Safety Bill will be necessary."

Become a Supporter

  • ${ error }
  • ${ error }
  • ${ error }

We’ll email you about campaigns, events and opportunities to get involved.
Find out more about how we use your information.