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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 5:23 pm 
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Robert Sharp Blog

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Discussing McCann Twitter Trolls on Sky News

7th October, 2014

Last week I was invited into the Sky News central London studio to discuss free speech and ‘trolling’ on social media. The segment had been prompted by a report by Sky journalist Martin Brunt into a ‘dossier’ of alleged abuse of Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine.

During the discussion I made the distinction between tweets that were abusive or threatening on the one hand, and others that were merely ‘offensive’. I cited the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on when to prosecute, and also warned at the development of ‘privatised censorship’ where different ideological groups use poorly-worded laws to threaten each other with prosecution.

A viewer recorded the segment off the TV and uploaded it to YouTube.



Immediately following this interview, I recieved [sic]] several messages on Twitter, both supportive and negative. This person managed to combine both sentiments:

In response to the discussions I had with several interlocutors, I wrote:

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I also complained that, as yet, the dossier at the centre of the story has not been made public, making it difficult for a disinterested person such as myself to form a view on whether the tweets complained of were offensive, abusive, threatening… or simply rude.


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