Tim Walker: Exasperated by the tormenters of Twitter

Tales From The Water Cooler: Where's this green and pleasant cyber-land Berners-Lee appeared to promise?
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The Independent Online

This is for everyone," tweeted Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, in one of the most unexpectedly moving moments of Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. It came at the climax of a feel-good segment about charming, attractive teenagers using texts, Twitter et al to meet their friends, chat up girls/boys and reclaim their phones after leaving them on the Tube.

By "this" Berners-Lee meant the Olympics, but also his own invention. He hoped, he said, that the so-called "first social media Games", would "bring people to use the Web to understand each other… and look at each other from a more beautiful point of view."

What a blissful idea. But the dream was dashed days later by the behaviour of a spectacularly charmless teenager, one "@Rileyy69", whose tweets are an unending stream of abuse, threats and violent imagery – some of them directed at diver Tom Daley. Daley would be forgiven for joining the exodus of celebrities from Twitter, each exasperated by the invective they're forced to endure. Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton signed off on Thursday. Matt Lucas and Micah Richards have quit; Kirstie Allsopp called in police this week over unrepeatable abuse.

Facebook appears to encourage positivity: there's no "Dislike" button. Yet Facebook bullying is rife too, reportedly. Arresting anyone for an insult or an ugly tweet seems tremendously severe. But can't we all just get along? Where's this green and pleasant land Berners-Lee appeared to promise, an online space where everybody's friendly – or civil, at least? Let me know if you find it.

@timwalker

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