Social media trolls are as bad as drink drivers, the Government’s Suicide Prevention Minister has suggested as she called for society to treat them with the same level of revulsion.
Jackie Doyle-Price said some online behaviour would never be “tolerated in the streets” and people needed to make clear “we don’t find that acceptable”.
She compared online trolling to someone 30 years ago driving after drinking four pints – something that was “socially acceptable” at the time but which now most people would take a “very dim view of”.
It’s an entirely useful analogy. But is it a correct one?
Useful in the sense that yes, it used to be socially acceptable and now it isn’t for the booze. And there are those who are trying to make the “abuse” similarly socially unacceptable. But should we be doing so? Is robust free speech something that should be made socially unacceptable. Possibly, possible not.
No, really, just fine with people having any view on that at all. It’s like burping at the dinner table, chacun a son gout.
Meanwhile, she said social media platforms needed to clamp down on internet trolls and harmful content to stop the “Wild West” nature of the internet.
Which is where the analogy breaks down. Because now she’s saying that pubs shouldn’t serve four pints because someone might then drive….