English Premiership

Collymore opens troll debate

2014-01-22 18:33
Stan Collymore (Getty Images)

London - Former England footballer Stan Collymore on Wednesday said Twitter was failing to do enough to clamp down on abuse, blasting the "sheer lunacy" of Internet trolls operating with seeming impunity.

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Collymore, now a football pundit, said he had received death threats and racial abuse after criticising Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after Saturday's Premier League match against Aston Villa.

Retweeting such messages to his half a million followers, Collymore wrote: "In the last 24 hours I've been threatened with murder several times, demeaned on my race, and many of these accounts are still active. Why?"

He added: "I accuse Twitter directly of not doing enough to combat racist/homophobic/sexist hate messages, all of which are illegal in the UK."

The former British transfer fee record holder toured broadcasters on Wednesday, triggering debate about the scale of the problem.

The ex-Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa striker claimed it was too easy for people who have had accounts closed or suspended to simply open another one.

"All it's doing is providing a vacuum for anti-Semitic abuse, racist abuse, homophobic abuse, sexist abuse, anti-disability abuse and it's quite frankly illegal," he told BBC television.

"I shouldn't have somebody that tweets me two days ago that says 'I'm going to turn up at your house and murder you'.

"Can Twitter in the UK live within the laws of the United Kingdom like we have to do as broadcasters?

"This is just sheer lunacy and Twitter, at the moment, I don't think they know what to do."

The 43-year-old also called for better age verification on the micro-blogging website.

Collymore's local police force said they were investigating the tweets.

Twitter said in a statement: "We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons."

It said targeted abuse was against its rules and it had made it easier for users to report examples.

Laurie Heizler, head of intellectual property, technology and media at law firm Barlow Robbins, said Twitter "must try to control what is a fertile landscape for criminal and civil action, no matter how difficult a task this may seem".

She said: "The growing tide of recent cases... suggests that Twitter provides a vast platform for illegal activity and it must respond to the challenges that follow from this."

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