There are many valid reasons users want anonymity on social media platforms, but the latest celebrity death shows many are now using that anonymity to destroy lives… and it must be stopped
Japanese star Hana Kimura is the latest victim of Twitter policies that allow users to harass and bully others without consequence.
The pro-wrestler and star of the once-popular Netflix reality show Terrace House: Tokyo, is widely believed to have taken her own life last year following weeks of abuse from social media trolls.
To make matters worse, a Japanese man has been fined just 9,000 yen ($81) for vicious online comments targeting Kimura, which contributed to her death.
And his name remains a secret.
The bullying of celebrities is a story we’ve heard time and time again. In 2014 Australians were shocked to discover presenter and model Charlotte Dawson had taken her own life after receiving abuse from vile Twitter users.
Not every victim is a celebrity though.
Just last week a friend of mine who has been the victim of rape was attacked (again) by an anonymous troll who informed her that no one believed she was raped and then in another tweet blamed the victim for walking home alone.
This same user creates new accounts every time they are blocked or deactivated by Twitter but getting Twitter to deactivate these accounts is problematic in itself with the company initially ruling tweets like this do violate their guidelines.
Seriously, what a joke.
There’s a lot to unpack on this issue, but before you read on I ask that you sign a petition I have started demanding Twitter close all fake accounts.
And by fake, I mean accounts that don’t have two-factor authentication.
I do understand the need for some people to have anonymity. That argument has come through loud and clear as I’ve floated this petition on social media.
To me, parody accounts are ok as are anonymous accounts if they don’t troll. If those accounts meet the criteria and have two-factor authentication then fine, but the moment they are found to have breached strict harassment guidelines then those accounts should be deleted.
It’s time to make social media platforms a safer place for everyone.
Some will read this and think “It’s not that bad” and “I can handle it”. And maybe that’s true — for you, but for others out there who are harassed it IS that bad and they CAN’T handle it.
No more people should have to die.
So, please go and sign this petition at change.org/faketwitter and then come back and read the rest.
Thanks for signing (if you didn’t there’s still time).
There’s no doubt this is a complicated issue and there are many who will decry ‘Free Speech’ at the idea of censoring Twitter. Free speech is a great thing and I have always been an ardent supporter, but I cannot stand by and continue to see people hurt and, worse, die.
There have been plenty of examples of celebrities being forced off Twitter due to the abuse they receive from trolls hiding behind fake accounts. In fact it happens almost weekly now and it would be a long list to name them all here.
And it could be anyone behind these accounts. Just yesterday The Guardian revealed Liberal MP Andrew Laming created dozens of Facebook pages to promote the LNP and attack opponents.
These trolls can be your workmates, your friends, your family and even elected MPs.
The problem has gotten so bad the Australian Government is now considering new rules which would require you to hand over your passport to tech companies before posting online. While it’s a move that will be fought by tech experts, the simple fact is people are at breaking point and something needs to change.
There is a way of providing safeguards for those needing anonymity and protecting those who have been targeted by these trolls. This petition finds the balance.
One thing is for sure, it is time to send a clear message that we are not going to take it any more.
How many more people have to die before you sign the petition?