Labour MP Steve Rotheram has called for a parliamentary debate on the problem of internet trolling, a day after ex-footballer Stan Collymore accused Twitter of “not doing enough” to combat racist and homophobic abuse.
“I accuse Twitter directly of not doing enough to combat racist/homophobic /sexist hate messages, all of which are illegal in the UK.” He added later: “Several police forces have been fantastic. Twitter haven’t. Dismayed.”
Mr Rotherham, the Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton, said: “For more than two years I have been meeting with ministers and industry experts to look in detail at the issue of internet trolling; just this week we have seen further evidence of the inadequate response of social media sites to online racist and misogynist abuse.
“Can we have a debate on internet trolling so that Parliament can send a message to Facebook and Twitter that we are watching what they are doing and thus far, we’re not impressed?”
Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley indicated that he recognised there may be a need for a broader parliamentary debate on trolling given the House of Commons had only explored the dangers of online abuse in cases involving children.
UK radio station Talksport, which employs Stan Collymore as a pundit, has announced it will not promote Twitter on air, online and in its Sport magazine, after accusing the social media platform of failing adequately to deal with derogatory remarks aimed at Mr Collymore.
“We are dismayed at the lack of response and perceived inaction by Twitter. Racist or abusive messages of this nature are illegal and unacceptable,” said Talksport Chief Exective Scott Taunton. “We have more than three million Twitter followers across our accounts but we will not promote these until we are satisfied that Twitter is doing its utmost to prevent abuse of this nature.
“We have a duty of care to all our staff and presenters and until I am satisfied that Twitter is treating this seriously we will no longer promote Twitter accounts or use tweets on-air.”
In response, Twitter released a statement encouraging users to “report” abuse through its help services.
“Twitter is an open communications platform,” the company said. “Our priority is that users are able to express themselves, within acceptable limits and, of course, within the law. We cannot stop people from saying offensive, hurtful things on the Internet or on Twitter. But we take action when content is reported to us that breaks our rules or is illegal.
“We have features that allow people to block accounts from following them, unfollow accounts they don’t want to see and filter the replies they receive – to put people in control of what they see on Twitter. We continue to invest in technologies that will give people more ways to customise their Twitter experience.”
Elsewhere on Thursday, Stan Collymore’s agent revealed the former England player has now deleted his Twitter account.
Staffordshire Police have confirmed they are questioning two teenagers about abusive tweets sent to Mr Collymore.
Meanwhile, Mr Collymore’s ex-girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson has told The Sun that he should not be given “a platform”.
“It’s a disgrace,” the TV star is quoted as saying. “No one should give this man a platform to claim he is a victim. With his history of violence, it’s beyond ironic.”
The couple had a relationship that ended after Mr Collymore attacked Ms Jonsson in a Paris bar during the 1998 World Cup, for which he later apologised for.