The best piece I read about the vile abuse suffered by Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasey (and others) on Twitter in the past week was this from Jemima Kiss and Charles Arthur in the Guardian: “Publishers or platforms: media giants may be forced to choose”.
“…Twitter and Facebook are keen to describe their sites as enabling communications, rather than publishing content – a crucial distinction which means they are not liable for trolling or abuse”
The BBC is both a platform and a publisher. It struck me that this kind of unpleasantness is very rare on the BBC’s websites despite the fact that thousands of comments are published on BBC Online every week.
Because the BBC has an excellent moderation service run by a central team who use all their experience and wisdom to root out any potential problems before they occur, a technical platform (DNA) to moderate comments that really works, a skilled and well trained out of house moderation team, good tools for staff, a clear set of house rules and people across the BBC who know how to host. This all adds up to a social space which is civilised and lives up to the BBC’s values.
This is something the BBC should get credit for. But I don’t expect we will anytime soon.
It’s worth remembering however, that you can do something about abuse online, if you want to.
(Disclaimer: I used to be in charge of this service, although I’m not now).