Is this the end of the pile on Twitter? If so, I am delighted


I watched in dismay as the hundreds of tweets appeared in my notification panel. Tweet after tweet, all criticizing me from “crazy b *** h” and “lying c ** t” to “fake doctor” and “missed journal”. For a moment, I thought Twitter was down and I was getting someone else’s messages. But then I realized that these angry people were addressing me in their angry comment.

It took me hours of abuse and relentless criticism – including “she needs to give it a head butt” and “her kids should be taken care of” – before I found out that a man with 11 , 2,000 subscribers had used the “tweet quote” feature to share an article I wrote, with a derogatory comment encouraging its supporters to “educate” the “left gutter journo.” With literally hundreds of aggressive posts, I was forced to quit Twitter for two days to avoid hateful content.

Since then, I have been the subject of countless targeted attacks online, but these days I rarely bother to investigate the cause, unless someone is directly threatening physical violence, such as a blow. knife or shootout. Still, the seemingly endless reviews that come from a bunch of Twitter have an emotional impact. I often wonder why users frequently target me instead of someone else because I really make a concerted effort to stick to the facts in my articles.

It’s no surprise that the government’s announcement that trolls could face two years in prison for messaging or posting material causing psychological damage was a welcome relief to me. I am happy to hear that the upcoming online safety bill will create new offenses, in the hope of tackling abuse and hate on the internet.

Over the past 48 hours, I have spoken to many women who share this relief, including politicians, doctors, and fellow journalists. They are tired of the abuse that comes with sharing their work online and they are ready for a change.

It is not about wanting the law never to be offended, as some critics suggest – I welcome criticism and constructive debate. Instead, it’s misogynistic hatred that targets me almost daily. There are often posts with violent gender-based threats, including rape and murder. I regularly hear that I am a “county sympathizer” or “crack whore” in response to articles about heroin treatment for drug addicts.

In the last week alone, I’ve been called a “criminal”, “dirty Marxist side” and “drug dealer comedy”. One Twitter user shared my home address and said I live alone with a two-year-old, while another said he hopes my child will “overdose”. I reported these comments to the police, but I feel the likelihood of a criminal conviction is low – the officer was very sympathetic, but said the law in this area is “not really fit for purpose. “.

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I have previously spoken openly about my experiences supporting an ex-boyfriend while in pre-trial detention for alleged drug importation offenses. Surprisingly, I receive huge amounts of abuse daily directly referring to this experience. It is impossible for me to write a factual article on the drug supply and organized crime without becoming the subject of a sustained campaign of misogynistic online abuse with comments such as “lazy criminal” or “merit.” being assaulted like his ex ”. Too often, the comments say “a woman like that doesn’t deserve children”, “her children are future drug traffickers” or “it would be karma if her children overdosed”.

The sheer volume of this aggressive rhetoric normalizes violence against women and other minorities, research from Amnesty International and the United Nations shows. In the past 18 months alone, I have been stabbed and seen someone break my phone. It is therefore not surprising that I have often questioned my personal safety after being the target of such extensive online abuse.

More recently, I was surprised to learn that many of these social media accounts are owned by professional people, from the 21-year-old trainee Met agent to the lawyer criminal specialist in convictions for trafficking or international human rights lawyer. , who all threw “pestles” on Twitter targeting me last week.

But this online abuse of female journalists is designed to demean and shame. The authors seek to discredit female commentators professionally, in order to induce fear and retreat. In my opinion, this amounts to an attack on democracy and media freedom. We must not allow this to normalize or even be tolerated as an inevitable consequence of social media discourse, which is why I welcome the online safety bill and refuse to be silenced by abuse.

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