January 22nd 2014
Football pundit and former England striker Stan Collymore has spoken out against Twitter after being the victim of death threats and racist abuse.
Mr Collymore allegedly received the threats on Twitter after suggesting that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez dived during last weekend's Premier League fixture against Aston Villa. Police are investigating, but he has said that they are "banging their heads against the wall" because Twitter is not taking sufficient steps to stem abuse. He also retweeted some of the abuse to his 503,000 followers.
Mr Collymore told Sky News: "I've no problem with honestly held opinion. If people think I'm an idiot, they're more than welcome to say. They're also more than welcome, within the laws of the United Kingdom, to bring up my past. That is genuine use of freedom of speech. But freedom of speech means that if anyone walks past me now and calls me some of the things, or makes some of the threats (that have been made to me on Twitter), they would be arrested."
He added: "The police are banging their heads against a brick wall, having to make requests to get reports and profiles processed. Six weeks later I'm still waiting. That means Twitter abuse operates in a bubble, a vacuum." He had previously tweeted: "In the last 24 hours I've been threatened with murder several times, demeaned on my race, and many of these accounts are still active. Why? I accuse Twitter directly of not doing enough to combat racist/homophobic /sexist hate messages, all of which are illegal in the UK." Another of his tweets on the matter read: "Several Police forces have been fantastic. Twitter haven't. Dismayed."
Broadcaster Piers Morgan supported Mr Collymore by calling on Twitter and the police to do more following the abuse: "I repeat, racist abuse & death threats both criminal offences in UK. So keep spewing it, trolls, and I will have you ALL dealt with." This in turn led to threatening tweets to Morgan as well.
In a statement, Twitter said: "Direct, targeted abuse and specific threats of violence are against our rules. You can let us know if you see abusive Tweets by using the new 'Report Tweet' button or through our online forms. We also have a clear process for working with the police and are in ongoing communication with relevant UK police forces to make sure they are aware of our policies."
The site added: "Twitter is an open communications platform. 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."