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The Sinister Side Of Twitter

I make no secret of the fact I’m pretty Twitter obsessed.

I absolutely love it. I use it to keep abreast of breaking news, keep in touch with people (and there really are some fantastic people on there), promote my blog posts (much to my followers annoyance, I’m sure) and just to have a good old rant; whenever I feel the need (hourly, usually).

It’s a fun, micro-blogging site which brings me humour, information and knowledge. All in equal doses.

However, yesterday, things took something of a sinister turn.

I’ll air anything on Twitter, my views on politics, celebrities, the news, television; you name it, I’ve got a view on it and yesterday afternoon it was the latter that resulted in me discovering just how disturbing social media can sometimes be.

I sent a tweet out having a bit of a moan about the Celebrity Big Brother line up. I expressed my disappointment in the lack of celebrity housemates that were entering the house.  That was it.

Within minutes I had a tweet back from a Big Brother fan page who I don’t follow. Nor do they follow me.  Because I’ve now blocked them, I can’t find the tweet they sent me but they called me cynical and basically had a bit of a moan at me for what I said.  Now, I was in a bad mood yesterday, in fact I’ve been in a bit of a mood for a few days if truth be told.  I’m attributing it to the January Blues I seem to suffer from on an annual basis.  So, I fired back a “Oh cock off” response.

Normally I’d be up for a bit of a debate, I’m not one to shy away from voicing my opinions, especially when it comes to Reality TV, but yesterday I just wasn’t in the mood. Perhaps I shouldn’t have sent my ‘oh cock off’ tweet, however, I did.  I’m not particularly proud of it but I’m also not going to apologise for it.  We all do and say things in the heat of the moment and I am no exception to that.

What followed this ‘oh cock off’ tweet I sent, was a raft of messages that can only be described as vitriolic.

An account began to send me some rather strange messages and tweets.

The first few messages were just a bit immature. “You call yourself a blogger” (had that one before).  “You really are pedantic”, “Leave (Big Brother fan site account) alone”. “Otherwise I will get (another Big Brother fan site) on you”. I laughed.  I thought I’d suddenly entered a school playground.  It literally was that pathetic.

Maybe I should have just blocked the account. I’m usually quite block button happy you see.  But I didn’t.

I fired back that they’d made an otherwise boring day quite funny and thanked them for it. I’m sarcastic to a fault.

A few messages went back and forth between me and the Troll, I never once insulted, I just continued to be facetious and let them waffle on.

They told me I had 5 minutes to apologise to the Big Brother fan account otherwise they would have me suspended from Twitter. I told them to go ahead, report me, as I’d already reported them.

This person then started with the personal insults.   I look so fake (nb. Only my tan and nails are fake).  I’m ugly. I’m a bitch. I’m a prick.  The insults are not only in messages but they’re also now being sent as direct tweets.  So this person is being public with their hate.

All the while, I’m just carrying on being sarcastic.

I’m a crackhead. I need to drop dead; ‘she’ says.

Things soon start taking a really strange and nasty turn.

Over the course of a few hours, this individual, this sad, pathetic person sat behind their phone or computer screen tells me how she’s going to stab me. She’s going to travel to Bristol and beat me up.

Now, I have a thick skin. Sometimes I think it’s a little bit too thick.  I know she’s not going to harm me, she’s just a pitiful Twitter troll with nothing better to do.  Her words don’t offend me, if anything I’m finding it all laughable the very fact that someone would go out of their way to send me these tweets was as ridiculous as it was amusing.

But then I thought of something.

I imagined a young boy or a young girl feeling a bit low. They might have low self-esteem, perhaps they’re being bullied at school or college.  They like to use Twitter in the same way I do, to keep up to date with what their favourite celebs are doing or follow their favourite television programmes.  And then they start to receive messages from someone telling them they’re ugly.  Or that they should drop dead.

That person doesn’t have a thick skin like myself. They’re already in a bad place and low on self-confidence.  What effect could those words have on that vulnerable person?

There have been plenty of times I’ve read articles about young people who have harmed themselves because of something someone has said online. They’ve been made to feel worthless by someone for absolutely no reason.  They have been threatened, again for absolutely no reason.

And that’s not OK. In fact, that worries me.

What gives someone the right to make another feel threatened online?

I question would this person go up to another in the cold, hard light of day for no reason and say “I’m going to stab you, you’re ugly, you’re a bitch, I’m going to beat you up”. The likely answer to that is no.

So why is it OK to hide behind the luxury of a computer screen and spout venomous bile like that?

Actions always have consequences. And sometimes those consequences can be dire.  Sometimes those consequences can lead to disaster and the thought of a vulnerable person sitting at their computer reading the words “You’re a bitch, you’re ugly, I’m going to stab you, no one likes you” and actually believing those statements breaks my heart a little.

I, along with countless of my followers have reported this account to Twitter.  To date they have done nothing about it.  The account is still live, and while I’ve not received anything for a number of hours now, that’s not to say I won’t in the future.  I’m led to believe this particular Twitter troll is a seasoned pro and has done this time and time again.  When ‘she’ is removed from Twitter she simply sets up another account and starts the whole process over again.

I don’t know what the answer is to this. Really, I don’t.  However, I just wanted to highlight my experience with the often heard of phrase ‘trolling’.

I’ve written previously that trolling and having a debate or difference of opinion are 2 very different things and I’m afraid to say that this experience definitely falls into the trolling category and it’s left me feeling really quite disturbed.

This Post Has 64 Comments

  1. It’s a nasty thing to do. And those people often have deep issues of.their own and that’s why they lash out online. If you are worried or want to teach them a lesson, you could check with your local police on trying to get them done for malicious communications.

  2. Flipping heck! You don’t have get some odd ones on Twitter. Isn’t trolling just so disgusting though,as you say there is that difference between difference of opinion and then downright idiocy.

  3. Oh my word this is horrific. I am horrified with the venomous threat. You’re right though – if this was a vulnerable teen this could have an horrific outcome. The hiding behind a screen is a well known and documented problem and the reality of it is frightening. I’m not sure I’d be coping as well as you about those threats and would have to take them further. It’s wring what she has said so I would report for sure. Well done you for being so thick-skinned #ablogginggoodtime

  4. It’s very shocking to see the darker side of social media and the internet generally. I usually think the best of people and am not cynical but there are some nasty people out there. Sorry you encountered one x

  5. Wendy

    I just can’t stand people who think it’s OK to bully others (online or otherwise). You are so right, who knows what could happen if tweets like these were sent to a young person who was already being bullied or feeling low. It is so not OK for people to be like this and I wish there was a way social networks could police these things better. We’re all entitled to an opinion but saying you’re going to stab someone is so not OK xx #ablogginggoodtime

  6. Lisa

    I’d be tempted to report it to the police. You have a screen shot of someone making a very serious threat against you. As you say, this could be someone very vulnerable or a young person and it needs to be dealt with, it is not acceptable!

  7. Just stumbled across some of the vile things she’s been tweeting you!When I think back to myself as a teen & receiving something like that I would have been really worried.I have reported the account.I really hope she stops soon,although as you say she’ll probably just start on some other poor sod.

  8. Anna

    Flipping heck! That escalated.
    It does show how vile people can be when hiding behind a screen, they don’t care about the impact they have on any one. They’re just out to ‘amuse’ themselves (probably whilst wondering why no actual real life people want to be their friends…)
    It does make you worry about the impact it would have on some one more vulnerable though. #ablogginggoodday

  9. Ellen

    It sounds horrendous and I completely agree that someone with a thinner skin than yourself could find it scary and incredibly distressing. I follow a lot f feminist accounts and I’m always disgusted by the rape threats and abuse received by people merely for daring to be publicly a feminist. It’s shocking. It’s definitely a problem for young people and I think Twitter and Facebook etc all need to take a hard look at their policies and try to take some responsibility. #ablogginggoodtime

  10. I’m always surprised to hear about things like this. I just don’t understand. What would bring people to say these types of things in the first place? And why don’t they have anything better to do with their time!

  11. I hate crap like this. people seem to grow much bigger stones when they are sitting behind a computer screen. I have a personal twitter account and a blog account to try and keep these things from overlapping #stayclassy

  12. Philip Murphy

    Experience with Twitter is just carry on tweeting, They soon get bored when they not even getting a response. This looks like a great blog by the way. Much better then my attempt last year as PhilipStar on WordPress. i removed my blog because I obviously wasn’t into blogging and only wrote like 10 lines without even checking to see my facts was right.p

  13. Claire liddy

    From watching Catfish much more often than I should admit, I have learnt one thing… The people behind the screen and usually the ugliest, oddest, strangest folk to walk this earth.

  14. Jaki

    I was following this online as it happened and I was just sat completely aghast. What kind of mentality do these trolls have?! They never cease to amaze me. For the record I think you handled it brilliantly. She could only hurl insults at you because she couldn’t think of anything witty to say back in return. But it is so worrying to think there are others out there who won’t be able to handle situations like this. Great post. #ablogginggoodtime

  15. So hard isn’t it because like you say here they can just start another account on Twitter if that one is closed. They need something in place. Like you said you can handle it, but some people are very vulnerable to abuse and threats so this shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Gripping post! #sharingthebloglove

  16. I’ll never understand why some attack the way they do. And you are so right about them going after someone who will take it more personal and with not so thick skin. LOVED your responses! Especially the jimmychoos one. Great post! #SharingTheBlogLove

  17. OMGosh! We’ve only had this happen to us once (it was from another blogger when we just started on Twitter) they were angry we were blogging from a child’s view point! We were fairly new to twitter so didn’t know what to do and just left it, said nothing, deleted and blocked, as the abuse hurled on. Then one day it stopped. Now we don’t go anywhere near that Blogger. Never reported her though….it was years ago.

  18. I just find it heartbreaking that people are being exposed to such hateful messages and I can’t understand how people think it’s ok to type such venomous and threatening things to another human being that they’ve never even met. It’s great that you have been able to cope with it so well, and I salute you for raising the fact that this could have been received by somebody less able to handle it. It makes me terrified to think that one day my children will be on here and exposed to these things, and I just hope that by then the trolling phase has well and truly run its course or that we at least have more effective ways of blocking it. Blog hugs x

    1. Me again lovely. Just popping back for a second read (and to shake my head in disbelief once more) via #bigpinklink. x

  19. That is so crazy, I dread ever being in a situation like this, all because you voiced your opinion ! #ThatFridayLinky

  20. My husband always says he’s surprised I’ve not attracted any trolls from my blogging (I’m like the least controversial blogger ever though!), but I’m always surprised at how many sad, nasty people there are out there, happy to sit behind a computer and make cruel comments and threats. I honestly don’t know what possesses people, but words can be so damaging, even when they’re coming from someone you’ve never met. I really hope Twitter get their act together and block that account, although like you said, what’s to stop them just setting up another one and doing the same thing? Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  21. Emily

    This is so scary.I totally agree, if that was sent to a vulnerable person, it could have awful results. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  22. Gah definitely one of, if not the worst aspect of social media is that it allows nasty people like this a voice and a screen to hide behind as they say all this horrible stuff. I think you handled it pretty well but like you say it could seriously damage someone who was a bit low already. Nasty nasty nasty xx #pocolo

  23. Oh god Rach!!! I laughed at your tweet that day, it seemed hilarious that someone thought you would be suspended from twitter for slating the big brother line up, but this is a whole new level!! It terrifies me that there are such crazed individuals out there, sat behind their computers doing god knows what, it’s so scary! #PoCoLo

  24. Claire

    Jesus, this is ridiculous! It puts me in mind of the latest South Park series where trolling is the main plot point. Usually, I find South Park funny, if a bit extreme at times, but the main ‘troll’ in the current series spouts much worse than this and even made someone kill themselves, yet still insists that what he’s doing is ‘funny’. I know it’s just a show but I can’t help but wonder, do people like your troll think it’s funny? Would she still think it was funny if suicide was the result of her insults? It is sobering to think about. xx #sharingthebloglove

  25. What an escalation! Thick skin is something you need! It’s scary what people are willing to say. I keep my head low somwe can have a happy existence! #abloggingoodtime

  26. Dave

    Nasty (and clearly an unhealthy infactuation with the makers of Big Brother). These strange people would never say these things in public of course, just type them in their parents’ basement whilst being told that they should ‘find a job and some friends now you’re 40’. No decency. #thatfridaylinky

  27. Adam

    Twitter is great but it’s getting seriously weird out there as well. You don’t even have to say anything controversial. Some people will get twisted over anything at all.

    Recently I ran a joke poll asking whether people prefer tea or coffee in the morning? It got literally 4 votes but because I said I liked tea and I got a DM from some guy calling me ‘an arrogant Brit who thinks he’s superior to Americans because he drinks tea and is a libtard communist’. Ok then…

    It also occured to me that a few weeks earlier I’d retweeted a mildly anti Trump joke so presumably we’re being silently watched by stalking weirdos all the time and don’t realise it until they pounce.

  28. Nige

    This is absolutely shocking behaviour it’s never happened to me hope you are ok super post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  29. I honestly can’t believe that people do this, what are they hoping to achieve from it! Twitter just never seem to take things seriously and have the most stupid processes for reporting accounts. I hope they have stopped for good and I’m sorry you’ve had to experience it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

  30. When you first started this post I was laughing (I have a very thick skin too, whether that’s good or bad I don’t know) but when you got to the end I felt a chill down my spine. That could be my family, my friends or my children on the receiving end of something like that in the future and it really is so disturbing!! You’ve wrote a great post though and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves! I am now off to Twitter to share it 🙂 #sharingthebloglove

  31. Thank goodness for your thick skin! If this person would turn off the TV every now and again, perhaps she would be more interesting and come up with more clever insults than “you’re ugly.” If you are going to be a horrid human being, at least be GOOD at it. (Incidentally, I am new to Twitter and have been a bit shocked at how easy it seems to be to create an account and let on almost nothing about yourself. Disturbing…

  32. Perhaps Mr. President Elect (cant say his name) has changed the way all mass psycho’s tweet and you wer victim! NUTSY! #stayclassymama

  33. I can’t believe they threatened to stab you!!! seriously, WTF???!!!!!
    I dont know what is more shocking, the threat or the fact that Twitter hasnt shut the account down yet.
    I hope this hasnt put you off, I love seeing your tweets and want to see more!

  34. I’m so glad we didn’t have Twitter and Facebook when we were young. It really can be awful. And how/ what happened or is happening to this troll person to need to do this? How awful their life must be – needing to cause misery and bullying hidden behind a computer. Good for you for standing up for yourself #stayclassymama

  35. This sounds horrible. A very sinister side to Twitter as you say. Some people clearly have very sad and miserable lives if they are spending their time insulting and threatening people they don’t know. Don’t let the b*stards get you down… #bigpinklink

  36. Lucy

    I’m not surprised that it’s left you disturbed-I would have been terrified. Although I’ve read around the subject and psychology of trolling, it still just sits very uncomfortably with me that people make a deliberate choice to seek out others, and type horrible things that will scare, or really upset them. I just can’t understand it, on any level. You can tell from what this person said to you that ‘she’ (I agree, there are times where it sounds like ‘she’ could well be a he,) that they don’t really seem right in the head. I love that the internet has given us the freedom to voice our opinions, but hate that it’s given others a faceless way to hurt others to make themselves feel better. I find that I censor a lot of what I’d like to say now, in posts, because I worry about someone finding some way to troll it, and I’ve often thought of not blogging anymore because the fear of trolls is great. It’s just really sad that these people exist. xx

  37. This is terrible, I am always horrified by these stories. With two teens I have heard of similar episodes closer to home and the advice has always been, block, report and go to the police. Well done you for holding your own but such a shame that you should have had this experience. #bigpinklink

  38. Oh gosh! I can’t imagine what drives someone to write such awful things, I truly don’t understand it. But you’re so right to be worried about those vulnerable people, it can take just one wrong word and something terrible may happen. I really wish something more could be done.
    Thanks so much for sharing with #pocolo

  39. What a horrible thing to experience and you are so right – it gives us a real insight into what young people may be experiencing and trying to process all alone. I only really dabble in Twitter (boring scheduled tweets – sorry all) and always thought how nice the bants seemed if I ever had the time to get involved…now I’m not so sure. Hope it hasn’t knocked you too much. Take care. P.S I totally get the Jan blues annual thing. xx

  40. Can’t believe how this escalated so quickly and how personal and abusive this person became! I’m glad you were able to handle it but you’re right it’s terrifying to think how other more vulnerable people would react to such awful comments. It’s too easy for people that are hiding behind phones or computers to get aggressive and not realise the consequences they are causing. Hope you’re OK. #BigPinkLink x

  41. So scary, I would feel very threatenned. Horrible for anyone, hope you are OK and you are right to write about it and remind us all these things can happen. #BigPinkLink

  42. Jade

    What is wrong with some people. I am glad you reported them and just kept responses light and sarcastic. So much damage can be done by cyberbullying, I wonder f that person would have been brave enough to say all that you your face. I like your face and your nails and everything else! #ablogginggoodtime

  43. Returning from #eatsleepblogRT Now I’m becoming some kind of cyber stalker, following you from one linky to the next!!!

  44. There are just a lot of psychos out there and it is scary. Thank goodness for your thick skin, but yes, it is worrying for kids and the more vulnerable. Pretty sick isn’t it. I’m glad you’ve come out of the whole thing ok. #bigpinklink

  45. Horrifying experience…and I fear things like this will only get worse as Mr.Prez Elect seems to be a twit all day and all night. #EatSleepBlogRT

  46. Cee Arr

    That’s irritating. Sorry you had to put up with it.

    There are worse though – try standing up for feminism, or LGBTQ+ equality, or defending a non-white or Jewish tweeter, and they come out in force. The Trump supporters are the worst. And there are Nazis – honest-to-God swastika-brandishing Nazis – a-plenty.

    Still, what a ridiculous thing for them to get worked up about! Celebrity Big Brother is hardly life-or-death! Sorry you had to put up with these immature idiots.

    Oh, and if you report as spam, Twitter often gets around to looking at it more quickly. Just a tip. 🙂

  47. That is an awful story! Hope you’re okay! The problem with these very obsessed fans is that if you fall foul of them you see just how disturbed they are! The same happena if you cross sone Beliebers and some One Direction fans.
    There ought to be penalties for threatening behaviour. Suspension of IP addresses or something! I fear reporting an account will just mean they open another.
    Perhaps they ought to take up a hobby. Like jigsaws or something.

  48. It’s frightening to think what people are actually capable of. Social Media sure does have its dark side. You bring up such a good point though. What if that was a person that took all those threats personally. We sadly live in a selfish and self-centered society !!. Great read! #globalblogging

  49. Wow! Scary experience! But I am not surprised as this kind of things happens all the time. I reckon some people don’t know how to express themselves in the real world and hide behind Twitter? Sometimes, people can’t take a joke or accept criticism. But to the point to say that they will get and stab you! The downside of the internet and its bad use from lonely people in my opinion…
    Thanks for joining #globalblogging. I hope you will join again next week!

  50. I have so much to say on this I just don’t know where to start. I must admit with your appearances in the Daily Mail as a consequence of some of your tweets, maybe you should just avoid Twitter lol. But seriously, the further I read, the more I felt utter horror. Problem is Rach, this is where we’re headed. Society is getting dumber and dumber, discipline is no longer upheld in schools (because parents don’t tolerate their children being taught manners by the school), young girls are being Kardashianised, older women are just getting more and more fake and plastic, respect and decency are seen as old fashioned concepts that people now spit on, there is no funding for mental illness and then on top of this, you’re living in the UK, a country that is addicted to its TV. People think it’s real life (well alright Big Brother kind . of is in a twisted way). God only knows that back story this awful Twitter troll has; maybe she’s got genuine mental health problems or maybe she’s just a vile human being. What I don’t get is why the ruddy hell Twitter have done nothing. #bigpinklink

  51. Goodness me, do people not have more to do with their lives. I’m sorry you were treated this way. I hope the reporting ensures this doesn’t happen again x

  52. Well frankly its disgusting that people think they can speak to any one like this over Twitter or any other social media platform. I don’t understand why people think that its acceptable to hide behind their computers. Like you I worry about how more vulnerable people would feel about this. Its a very sad fact of modern technology and modern attitudes that trolling is still rife on the internet. I hope twitter do suspend her – but like you say I expect that she will just set up another account…. #eatsleepblogrt

  53. Omg that’s madness!! As if someone would get so offended about a tweet!! Just ignore them now and try not to worry. Surely being trolled means you’ve made it as a blogger 🙂 lots of love. There are still some nice people on twitter xx

  54. OMG, what a bunch of fucking psychos.

    The other day, I tweeted (positively) about Nicki Minaj and one of her “super fans” came at me calling me a bitch and misspelling most of her tweet. I responded to her “English is hard.” She deleted the tweet. What a twat. Twitter is a gift and a curse, I swear.

  55. That’s insane!! Happened to me a few years ago, some “girl” kept @ me with digs and jabs after every tweet I made. I would tweet “it’s so warm and sunny outside” and she’d say “bitch, shut up”. Just weird crazy stuff. I ignored her as long as I could. I told her as politely as possible to leave me tf alone, but that only made it worse. I just blocked her. People are really crazy. You have to be careful.

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