The Twitter Debate: Trolls vs Celebrities
There is always a select few that ruin it for the majority. A statement that rings clear when it comes to celebrities threatening to quit their beloved social media network Twitter, due to the abuse they receive from a minority of users.
One of the most popular features that drew people in to Twitter was the fact that their idols and favourite A-list stars were active users, and it presented fans with the chance to ‘follow’ and interact with them.
But now it has become clear that ‘internet trolls’ have populated the social network and quite vigorously take to it to abuse celebrities with malicious, spiteful and sometimes just plain vile comments. In many cases this has lead to celebrities claiming they may suspend their accounts due to the hurtful remarks.
The latest example is two time gold medallist swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who claims she may disable her tweeting during the Olympic Games in London this summer. The reasoning not being that she wants to focus on her training, but more to the point that she is insecure about the hurtful tweets she receives from insensitive users. Miss Adlington has over 50,000 followers and recently told the Associated Press that the amount of hateful abuse she receives is ‘awful’.
“Even if there are 10 nice comments, you get one idiot…” she says. “I don’t want that added stress”.
Social connectivity for athletes has not sounded ideal lately with the Olympic bodies introducing a policy banning athletes from tweeting pictures with any products containing sponsors and any picture from within the Olympic village.
A well publicized example of the hurt trolls can do came when Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson joined twitter and gained over 12,000 followers in just a few hours. It took Gibson just half an hour after he reached 12,000 followers to disable his account after receiving a venomous spit fire of comments from users including his own fans.
Another well known example came when Sunderland player James McClean received death threats through Twitter, after he chose to convert from U21 Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland senior side to play in this month’s Euro 2012 championships.
Superstar golfer Lee Westwood is another popular ‘tweeter’ and in the past admitted to almost leaving Twitter all together claiming it’s a great way to engage with fans but in some cases “people take it too far and spoil it.”
Sports stars have been at the centre of Twitter controversy with a range of players getting bans for various posts. This fuelled a public debate on whether they deserve to have Twitter accounts as they have such an influence as role models over their followers, and due to the fact that their engagement with fans can go too far sometimes.
West Ham ace Carlton Cole was fined by the FA last year after posting racial jokes over Twitter after a match between England and Ghana. Playing for Liverpool at the time, Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 early last year for posting a forged picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United kit for Liverpool fans. Manchester united youngster Federico Macheda and Newcastle’s Nile Ranger were both fined after making homophobic comments in their posts towards followers.
Twitter is the ultimate tool for interaction between celebrity and consumer. But there cannot be lenience to allow select groups of people to abuse its users, whether they are a celebrity or the fans. Crazed and obsessed fans of stars such as Justin Bieber and One Direction have even been involved in the madness. When TV presenter Caroline Flack was rumoured to be dating Harry Styles of One Direction she received a flood of death threats from the obsessed fans of the teen band.
Is it a case of sports stars simply ignoring the hateful comments? There is a reason there is a block user function on the site. Or must there be a set piece of action put in place to regulate what ‘fans’ can say to these stars? You cannot go further than banning the account of the person tweeting abuse. Although as shown with the recent news of student Liam Stacey being jailed over tweets racially abusing footballer Fabrice Muamba, the police are willing to investigate tweets that clearly overstep the line meaning there is a line of tolerance.
What do you think? Is it time to act less tolerantly against internet trolls? How hurtful must a comment be to be considered punishable? Or do you think the stars need to just take it on themselves to act to block all the people they receive abuse from?
Let us know what you think and comment on the Klood Facebook page.