Action is needed to combat online abuse
Topic of the week: the scourge of cyberbullying
I WISH to commend you on your well-timed articles regarding the increase of online abuse, and your demand that Police Scotland acts quickly and gets offenders before the courts (Police investigate horrific catalogue of threats and abuse against Sturgeon, Dugdale and Davidson also victims of campaign of hate, News; Jail all criminal online abusers, Sunday Herald view, March 12).
I wish you well on that, but fear that cybercrime can only flourish if we fail to update legislation to combat it. Last year, slightly over 50 per cent of crime in Scotland had an internet basis and it has, indeed, become the social media “Wild West”.
Every day we read about cyberbullying, revenge porn, trolling and virtual mobbing, and vulnerable youngsters being driven to suicide by it. We have a young generation who see nothing wrong in sending indecent images to each other, which they can with impunity.
Politicians are the victims of anonymous trolls, though at least the high-profile ones like Sturgeon, Dugdale and Davidson can expect the Police Scotland cybercrime department to take up their complaint with Facebook or Twitter.
Legislation, much of which relates to print media and predates the internet, must be updated. Your articles were very welcome, but you must continue to apply the pressure. John V Lloyd Inverkeithing THE Sunday Herald is to be commended on its campaign to tackle online abuse. It is particularly troubling that some of the worst of it is aimed at women who have achieved so much, whether through public service in the world of politics or in other high-profile roles in business or the arts. Those wanting to encourage their daughters to make the most of their lives will wonder what impact such vile attacks might have on their life choices. We all owe a debt of gratitude to women in the public eye, from the three leaders of Scotland’s political parties to those like JK Rowling, for demonstrating how to remain dignified in rising above such abuse.
Some will blame social media for providing a platform for mindless comments; others will draw comfort from the knowledge that the worst examples come from a small minority. Yet there is some responsibility on all who take part in political debate to show care in the tone and choice of language used.
Moderating the language we all use in making strongly held views is one important element in lowering the temperature of exchanges, particularly on the most sensitive of issues such as independence. There are some commentators online and in the press whose rhetoric could be wrongly or rightly interpreted as encouraging a more fervent reaction. If we can all seek to retain a clear sense of respect for others, no matter if we agree with them, it would surely help. Keith Howell West Linton