i Editor's Letter: Time to start taking the dangers of the web seriously
Oliver Duff was appointed Editor of i in June 2013. He was previously Executive Editor at The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday, running the newsroom. Formerly a reporter, gossip columnist and news editor, he was fired as the magazine's bar critic after three weeks. A diver and surfer, he's interested in nature and science, politics and diplomacy.
Saturday 17 August 2013
Every time we hear that a teenager has killed her or himself because they have been subjected to bullying or blackmail via social media, people pipe up to suggest an obvious solution: simply remove yourself from Skype/ Twitter/ Facebook/ask.fm/ the internet. Abstain! Then there can be no cyber-threat.
Totally unhelpful. That’s like taking your kid out of school because they’re being bullied, isolating them from their social circle and so much else that now happens over a broadband connection. We can’t wish away the web.
Children and teens can be cruel – and don’t have to stop at the school gates any more. But the blackmailers alleged to have caused the death of Daniel Perry, 17, an apprentice mechanic in Dunfermline, by tricking him into thinking he was exchanging video footage with a girl and then threatening to send the clips to his family, are plain depraved.
“Knowing him as I do,” his mother said, “he has felt embarrassed, horrified, and has thought he’s let everybody down. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, just what anyone his age might do. But this scam is all about exploiting young people.”
Of course it’s better not to engage in sexual behaviour online with people you don’t know well and trust, but people make mistakes. And we can all lose perspective about the possible consequences of our actions. People bruise deep at that age, though, and shame and jibes can kill.
Josh Unsworth, 15, Hannah Smith, 14, Ciara Pugsley, 15, Erin Gallagher, 13... how many more people must die before web firms take this seriously, and hunt down abusers independently, without needing to feel the heat from an appalled Fleet Street?
Samaritans is available around the clock on 08457 90 90 90.
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 3 How much sex should I be having?
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 Live football streaming sites Rojadirecta, LiveTV and Drakulastream all completely banned from UK browsers