Today I was reading a thread on Stop the Myths forum about Social Networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter and the harassment rape victim and her family had to endure. The full story can be read on the Daily Mail, but what I would like to quote for this post is the comment made by DC Will Biggar of Lancashire Police, he said:
Facebook has replaced the ‘‘talking over the backyard’’ mentality and time and time again we are coming across cases that are being undermined by people posting comments on social networking sites.
Yesterday afternoon at the Leveson Inquiry, Lord Leveson said this with regards to Twitter
And that alters the dynamic, and there is a very interesting distinction to be drawn between a conversation that two people might have in a pub or in a private place on the one hand and a newspaper always, and the question is: is communicating with friends on Twitter nearer the conversation in the pub or with friends or in a hall in a debate with friends or the journalistic product of a newspaper, which carries with it a kitemark of integrity, honesty, accuracy, or should do, and how you try and —
A poster (Truthiness2) on Stop the Myths forum stated this in observation at what Lord Leveson said:
This trivialising of the nature of rape and social networking is driving me crazy
Leveson yesterday, again, compared twitter and FB to ‘chats in the pub’. They’re NOT!
Take the McCanns. In what pub would you see a group of dangerous misfits from all over the country meet up and have conversations about gorillas anally raping people? Or about kidnapping twins, or hoping the family of a missing child end up dead on the motorway?
What Pub allows meetings for a sustained campaign of hatred and harassment of a family with a missing child?
What pub has groups of sane people discussing clones of a missing child and wallpaper made of her skin?
Their observations are spot on, but even today, after the evidence given at the Leveson Inquiry there are still people peddling the lies and myths that were created in the Summer of 2007. Journalists have taken to the witness stand at the Leveson Inquiry and have said, under oath, that there were leaks from the Portuguese Police and some of those leaks were not true and were totally unfounded and they printed these stories without checking the sources or the content.
This resulted in papers printing malicious lies about the McCann family and the files have proven that there was NO bodily fluid of Madeleine’s found in the hire car and that the McCanns were NOT involved in their daughter’s disappearance. Some newspapers have removed those articles, but there are many that are still online and still to this day this story is being peddled as fact.
Unfortunately people don’t do research, they read something and take what they read as fact. And that is when twitter and social networking sites are at their worst, because they repeat and repeat and repeat all those unfounded stories and the users of these sites pass those stories off as fact.
In our society, unfortunately, we do have people who have mental health issues and some of these people would not hesitate to harm someone because they thought they did something and were guiltyof what people (especially ex-detectives) are accusing them of.
Now I don’t know who this person was but someone did harass the McCann family, they even climbed over their back fence and tried to gain access to the McCann family home. Kate said in her book:
The weekend of 13 and 14 September 2008 was not one of our best. On the Saturday I was bothered by a persistent caller (dubbed by Sean and Amelie ‘the man with the poorly head’), whose initially erratic behaviour ultimately became terrifying when he jumped over the fence into our back garden and tried to get into the house through the patio doors. His last act before being carted off by the local constabulary was to throw one of my large ceramic plant pots through the windscreen of my cousin Anne-Marie’s car, parked in our drive.
How terrifying, just imagine if you were in Kate McCann’s shoes and had been pestered by a persistent person calling your home phone and then to find him trying to gain access to your home, where you and your children were? Being terrified, fearful, frightened, scared, panicked, petrified, not a nice thoughts and emotions are the?
Now think to the documentary to Kate and Gerry did, (I think it was with Oprah) where Kate McCann unlocked the patio doors to let Gerry in and she said to the children, something like, “Shall we let daddy in?”, people condemned her for this. They accused the McCanns of staging this so it looks like the family were all kept secure.
When in reality the reason was probably because Kate McCann had already been the victim of someone trying to gain access to her home and she wasn’t going to take chances by leaving doors unlocked.
I don’t what happened to the person who tried to break-in to the McCanns home and whether he was charged or jailed, but why did he feel that he had to terrorise this family?
Could he have been living in a world of myths and believing the rumours and paper headlines that the McCanns were guilty? Could he have believed what was being posted on not just social networking sites, but also on forums and blogs, about the McCanns?
Like Truthiness2, I too believe that Social Networking sites are NOT like having a conversation in a pub. You know your friends, and unless some nosey bugger overhears what you are saying, normally your conversation remains between the group. But on Twitter and Facebook, it doesn’t, what you type and post can and is read by millions of people.
Twitter, Facebook and any other social networking site, reach a far wider audience than a few people talking down the pub and it doesn’t take much for some nutter to believe what they read on these sites and decide to take action.
Whoever was leaking these myths to Journalists in Portugal really does have a lot to answer for. Because the lies and innuendos that they were putting out, which journalists put to print and users on social networking sites subsequently repeated, have put a family in potential danger and have dragged them to hell and back.
And please don’t tell me people don’t believe what papers print, because they do. I believed them once and I believed what was emanating from Portugal about the McCanns, but thankfully I saw through it all and did my homework, by reading the files and research and came to the conclusion that I was totally wrong.
Do I think the McCanns will be the only family to fall foul of the media and social networking sites? Unfortunately no. At the moment due to the Leveson Inquiry the media are being careful in what they print, but unless stringent rules are made and the press have to adhere to them, it will be just a matter of time before another family are dragged through the mill.
May I suggest to Lord Leveson, that he spends a day reading the #McCann hash tag and the various Facebook pages and groups created to attack the McCanns, and then he will soon realise that Twitter and Social Networking sites are not like conversations between people down the pub.
And Twitter and Facebook, really do need to get their act together, because their users are harassing and destroying real people’s lives, not some fictional character crated in an online game, but real people with real emotions and real feelings.
You only have to read this expose (McCann Hate Exposed) to find out the true horrors of what the users of twitter are doing to a family of a missing child.