For the benefit of the owners and readers of www.ghanaweb.com, today I am reproducing an article culled from the online edition of the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.
It is entitled "Toxic trolls should have no hiding place" and was
written by the British Conservative MP for Corby, Louise Mensch.
￼At a time when Ghanaians of goodwill need to unite to stop the tiny but
vocal minority of tribal-supremacist individuals (found in all the ten
regions of our country, incidentally) from destroying our homeland
Ghana, with their bigotry, it is unfortunate that such cowardly and
uncouth individuals have free rein to propagate their unspeakable
abomination online, via Ghanaweb.
Those of them who live outside the shores of Ghana, might find
themselves behind bars in the not too distant future, if they don't end
their vile vituperation online. ￼
Please read on:
"Wednesday 13 June 2012
Toxic trolls should have no hiding place
Social networks have a duty to identify internet bullies who cower behind anonymity.
My troll, Frank Zimmerman, was a repeat offender targeting women. I hope
that the publicity surrounding the case will deter others Photo: Alamy
By Louise Mensch
8:09PM BST 12 Jun 2012
The conviction and sentencing of Frank Zimmerman, the 60-year-old man
who threatened my children anonymously over the internet last summer,
has aroused much comment. Mr Zimmerman, after having variously claimed
that he was agoraphobic, too poor to eat (yet able to use a computer)
and that his computer was hacked, was arrested when he failed to turn up
for sentencing. He was finally given a suspended term with an extensive
restraining order, barring him from contacting me and various other
people in public life. If he breaches it, he will go to jail.
I thought the sentence fair. As a mother, it was terrifying to me when I
received the email threat, referencing the film Sophie’s Choice in
which a Jewish mother has to pick which of her children to send to the
gas chambers. I have a Jewish surname, being married to a Jew. The
threat was detailed, using photographs of the book and the logos of the
hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec. Of course, the nature of the
internet is that you don’t know who is behind the screen. Is it
Zimmerman, with his filthy house and his record of targeting women
online? Or is it some demented teenager with a gun? I arranged security
via House of Commons and Northamptonshire police for my family, as at
the time it was my ex-husband’s portion of the holidays with our
children. But I felt helpless and attacked.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks Zimmerman escalated his
campaign. He rang me: I knew it was him right away – the well-spoken,
English voice, the menace – and hung up. He sent emails from various
fake accounts, pretending to be a duke, a doctor, a student. He
researched obscure material about my husband’s former address and even
about my novelist sister.
Luckily, by this time I knew who it was. Terence Blacker of the
Independent deserves much of the credit for catching Zimmerman, along
with the police’s e-crimes unit. He recognised the use of the LulzSec
logo and the sexually graphic abuse – abuse that had been heaped on him
previously by Zimmerman, who had once been his next-door neighbour. Like
me, at first he was concerned for his family, not knowing who was
behind the threats.
In this case valuable police resources were wasted on a person who was
not a physical threat. However, he was one who thought nothing of
threatening sexual violence and death to various women and children, and
researching families and relatives. Zimmerman, a typical troll,
operated under the belief that if he hid behind an anonymous internet
user name, nothing could happen to him.
Trolling abuse got worse for victim after Facebook case 11 Jun 2012
Facebook working to allow under-13s to use site 04 Jun 2012
Sex offenders have no right to Facebook 31 May 2012
Facebook crashes below $30 in 'worst IPO in a decade' 29 May 2012
Too often people have believed that the internet is a magical, protected
space where nothing they do can be policed. They type threats on their
keyboard that they would never utter in person. A rash of such cases has
arisen in the past couple of years, and prosecutors are cracking down.
In 2011 a 25 year-old, Sean Duffy, was jailed for posting obscene
messages about teenagers who had committed suicide. On a memorial
website to Natasha MacBryde, who had thrown herself under a train after
being bullied, he posted a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine with
Natasha’s face superimposed upon it, and called it “Tasha the Tank
Nicola Brookes found herself the subject of relentless trolling after
posting a comment about (of all things) Frankie Cocozza, a game-show
contestant. Fake Facebook pages were set up in her name which, among
other things, solicited girls as young as nine for sex. She sued. Online
fans of the footballer Ched Evans, jailed for rape, outed his teenage
victim on Twitter, posting slurs against her character – it is a crime
to name a rape victim, and North Wales police have made 13 arrests so
Sexual abuse and bullying comments, mostly directed against women, are
par for the course. The Olympic gold medallist swimmer Rebecca Adlington
has said she will stay off Twitter after abusive comments were posted
about her appearance; a 21 year-old was jailed for 56 days after making
racist comments on the site about the footballer Fabrice Muamba.
The Government yesterday introduced new laws to encourage websites and
internet service providers to surrender the identity of those posting
abuse or libel. This is a good thing. While Muamba and other celebrities
may have resources, mothers like Nicola Brookes do not. She should not
have to sue Facebook for them to give police information relating to her
abusers. My troll, Zimmerman, was a repeat offender targeting women. I
hope that he uses the suspended sentence to get some therapy, and that
the publicity surrounding the case will deter others.
Ultimately, the internet is just another form of communication; once
that is accepted, including by service providers and social media,
trolling will lessen. After all, not so long ago it was acceptable to
drink and drive. As victims repeatedly fight back, we can hope to see a
Louise Mensch is Conservative MP for Corby"
End of culled article from The Daily Telegraph.
One hopes, dear reader, that those uncouth cowards who hide behind computer screens to insult others on www.ghanaweb.com will think twice before typing their ghastly words. A word to the wise...
Tel: 027 745 3109.