i Editor's Letter: Stamping out bullying over social media


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The Independent Online


Working in a modern-day newsroom, we all keep an eye on our Twitter feeds in the way news editors do on the "wires".

Like the wires, Twitter can be pre-set to throw up subjects that we are known to be interested in. The very choice of who I follow defines the type of news I will personally receive in my feed, but I can always see what's "trending".

On Sunday night, "Cher Lloyd" started trending. I don't know much about Ms Lloyd other than she finished fourth on an X Factor series, and evokes passionate, divided reactions. She has a following – in Twitter's case, literally: 2.17m. Her name "trended" as she played the V Festival, because she was booed offstage having had bottles of urine thrown at her, leaving her in tears. To her credit, she finished her set.

How Twitter loved it. People, not just anonymous people, lined up to make poor piss jokes and hurl further abuse at a 19-year-old. It really bothered me, and it should you. Not because I hold any particular candle for Cher Lloyd, but in any other aspect of life this would be called what it is, bullying. And, I am pretty damn certain that many of those tweeting abuse would claim to be anti-bullying.

This is the latest in a whole string of stories about young women being vilified in public, be they on-stage or on Twitter and Facebook. As a society we have to take a good, long look at ourselves and stamp this out. Social media owners need to take more responsibility for these comments. I was going to write "before it's too late" but for many teens, driven to desperate measures by being bullied, it already is.