Should celebrities or athletes out their trolls on Twitter
We are into the 4th day of the London Olympics and already we are seeing some horrible behaviour from both some athletes and some members of the public in terms of how they use Twitter. So far an athlete for the Swiss football team – Michael Morganella [Twitter account no longer there] and a Greek athlete – Voula Papachristou have both been sent home for making disgraceful and perhaps racist comments on their twitter accounts. Any form of racist comments in my view needs to be stamped out and shown to other competitors that it will not be tolerated. Athletes and celebrities need to remember that their words on Twitter will be scrutinized and therefore reacting without thinking to a situation may have severe repercussions on both their personal and professional lives.
In this blog post however, I wanted to give my view on a situation that Tom Daley the British Olympic diver found himself in. Sadly for Tom and his diving partner Pete, they finished just outside of the medals. Tom then got a tweet from @rileyy_69 telling him that he felt he had let his dad down. Sadly Tom’s dad died recently.
In my view, this tweet was not racist, nothing like what happened to the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba where the student Liam Stacey was jailed for 56 days for a series of racist tweets it was in very poor taste, agreed but its what Tom did next that I want to talk about. Tom then retweeted this tweet to his 580,000 followers and created what can only be described as a Twitter lynch mob.
Its the outing of trolls that I wanted to talk about.
Celebrities and athletes should be on Twitter. It allows them to get close to their fans, give behind the scenes views and allows them to share things that we would be interested in. But with this freedom comes great responsibility. They in turn need to remember that they are ambassadors for their clubs or countries.
They also need to remember that they will also encounter people on Twitter that don’t like them, criticise them and perhaps say awful and horrible things about them. If on the one hand they allow their fans direct access to them, then surely they can’t complain when those very same fans are critical of them or post comments they don’t like. [leaving aside racist comments as this is a different issue]
Athletes in the ‘heat of battle’ are emotionally charged up, and yes may well react differently than leaving it for a period whilst they ‘calm down’ after the ‘emotional high’ of their event. So, whilst what that person sent to Tom was not nice and very inconsiderate and disrespectful towards him, outing him to his 580,000 followers in my view was not the right thing to do. In my view two wrongs don’t make a right.
I would advise athletes and celebrities who receive tweets from trolls to simply ignore them. Trolls typically want the limelight, want attention and by ignoring them typically they vanish into the distance. I accept that its hard not to react when hurtful and nasty things are being said to you, but in my view that is exactly what you should be doing.
Whilst people saying hurtful and nasty things is bad, what is also bad is what I describe as ‘cyber bullying’ This is where a celebrity or athlete with a large following, simply takes umbridge at a tweet I send them and then utilises their large following to beat down on that person. I also take a dim view of this action. And that is where the fine line or even grey area is.
Athletes and celebrities who choose to be in the media spotlight or through their superhuman efforts come into media focus in my view should receive training and support on how to deal with these things. I messaged the team GB twitter account asking this question and to date have not received a response. The nature of Twitter is that it is a ‘real time’ communication tool. People can often say things in a moment of madness or frustration that in the cold light of day would be crazy. So my advice would always be, don’t react, let the situation calm itself down and then re look at things after a good nights sleep.
Update: Since I wrote this article, the BBC are reporting that the person sending Tom the tweet has been arrested. For this article, I only considered the 1st tweet he sent to Tom. If he then went onto subsequently send him a barrage of abusive tweets with the threat of violence then that is a total different ball game and needs to be dealt with by the relevant authorities.
What’s your view? Please feel free to comment in the box below.