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Tuesday 19 October 2021

Ending Anonymity IS POINTLESS

In the wake of the knife attack last Friday that left Tory MP David Amess dead, there has been yet another attack on social media providers, and especially those accounts that hide the identity of their owners behind a cloak of anonymity. To no surprise at all, this has been justified on the basis that the hate directed at serving politicians mostly originates there, with the attack endorsed by many in the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press.

Who might be in the vanguard of this campaign?

Amess’ fellow Essex MP, Mark François (note cedilla under the c) wanted the world to know that it was Facebook and Twitter Wot Done It. He was “minded to drag Mark Zuckerberg [CEO of Facebook] and Jack Dorsey [CEO of Twitter] to the bar of the house … if necessary kicking and screaming so they can look us all in the eye and account for their actions or rather their inactions that make them even richer than they already are”.

Eh? Football’s football, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the game that it was. But there was more. “[François] said MPs should radically toughen up the pending online harms bill to prevent trolls and other abusers hiding behind pseudonyms … ‘[Amess] was appalled by what he called the vile misogynistic abuse which female MPs had to endure online and he told me very recently that he wanted something done about it’”. However.

As the Guardian has reported, “Campaigners have warned, however, that ending online anonymity could put whistleblowers and pro-democracy campaigners in authoritarian regimes at risk”. Also, when Rhondda MP Chris Bryant received a death threat recently, it did not take the Police long to locate and arrest someone over the alleged offence.

Moreover, when it comes to spreading hatred against MPs - and others, including judges and campaigners (pace Gina Miller) - anonymous Twitter and Facebook accounts cannot hold a candle to the firepower all too frequently deployed by the press, especially that part which is fully invested in The Adoration Of The Boris. Then comes a further problem.

Well, look who's back

Thomas Mair, who murdered Jo Cox, was radicalised by Britain First, a far-right group that is not an anonymous social media troll. And it is now suggested that Ali Harbi Ali, arrested and detained over Amess’ killing, may have been radicalised by Anjem Choudary, who is most definitely not an anonymous presence. Ms Miller received death threats after a slew of hostile coverage in papers like the Daily Mail and Murdoch Sun.

So, as Captain Blackadder might have pointed out, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. As so often, those without the power to fight back are the ones chosen by the entitled and comfortable within the media class to be the fall guys for something that media class has had more than an occasional hand in fomenting.

But Mark François will not be declaring his support for the Hacked Off campaign any time soon. He will continue to be the darling of the press’ hard right punditry, railing against social media providers while those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet continue to smear, demonise, doxx, defame and otherwise whip up the mob. He will continue to champion, and indeed to exemplify, the role of useful idiot.

Ending online anonymity is only the solution if the problem is “how do we get someone else to take the fall while carrying on publishing hatred”? So it isn’t a solution at all.

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Anonymous said...

I'll go with that when corporate broadcast and print media owners, executives, editors, subeditors and front men and women are obliged by law to declare their political and economic interests.

My bet is the treble-chinned nazified gammon Francois (who can shove the cedilla up his fat arse) wouldn't want that applied to like-minded far right tory propaganda clerks who urge murder.

Simon said...

Why are MPs suddenly concerned about anonymous abuse? Ask people from ethnic minorities, the LGBT community and women and you'll find it's been going on for quite a while now.

And what's that about 'dragging them kicking and screaming'? Sounds like a threat of violence to me.

Anonymous said...

Just watched a rerun of last night's ITV "News" featuring the shouty tory moron Bradby as he predictably engaged in the cringeworthy onanathon.

Recommended viewing for those who study media hypocrisy, lying and propaganda. Bradby wouldn't be out of place in a SS uniform with bullwhip.

Anonymous said...

I still remember smug, smirking smart-arse Mark François threatening the top brass in a MP committee meeting that a hard rain was going to fall on the MoD ...

Whatever happened to his threat? Nothing, but then I suspect that Fatty makes many threats, none of which ever happen (much like the Brexit he was keen on championing - the benefits were always going to turn up but never did)

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget.

This is a record of Mr. Amess's political record:

Anonymous said...

Is that the online harms bill which in its current format already has a clause that excludes all comments on the websites of grub street? So for example the pit of racisms and homophobia that is the comment section of the Daily Mail, The Spectator and Guido will not have to change one iota.

Rivo said...

Is it just me or does Mark Francois bear more than a passing resemblance to Peter Griffin?

Anonymous said...

He kept his anonymity though. Funny that init? … klomph