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Social Media: Is The Moral Panic Justified?
 
# 1 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 10:19
 
 
So it seems that there's a bit of a panic over social media in this country over the past couple weeks.

First off we had Shane McEntee taking his life. His party colleagues were quick to suggest that he may have been the result of cyber bullying. To my knowledge, this is all just hearsay but regardless, an investigation has been set up.

Next we had the ridiculous move of the Irish papers to charge for links to their articles. The less said about that stupidity, the better.

Then we had both John Waters and David Quinn attacking social media in their respective papers. Quinn claims that he saves the most abusive tweets he gets in his favourites. (Have a look. They're really not that bad. And there's only one that I can see that is actually a threat: https://twitter.com/DavQuinn/favorites) Meanwhile, Johnny Waters wrote that 'a venomous and toxic social media is out of control' in Ireland, just after appearing in a Youtube video that claims that 'literally a tsunami of the culture of death is washing over Ireland' .

But over the weekend we had the panic over Jim Sheridan's tweet. For those who don't know, Jim Sheridan is a prolific tweeter with more than 8000 followers. He is also musical director on the Late Late. Before Christmas, he commented that he didn't agree with Senator Ronan Mullen's stance on Twitter. Someone else replied to him that Mullen should be hung up with rusty nails. And Sheridan responded: 'He'd be back in three days ... But we could have at least one great weekend without him appearing on TV or radio.'

Since that, Pat Rabitte has come out and called the tweet deplorable and RTE have said they're looking into it. (RTE, by the way, have a not-so-secret warning in employees contracts not to tweet about politics. There is some doubt whether this is legal.) Meanwhile Jim Sheridan hasn't tweeted since the weekend.

Jim Sheridan's response to the whole thing seems pretty fair and honest to me: 'Someone sent me a tweet which I took in good faith as a joke and was not a serious threat to Ronan Mullen. My response was to keep up the analogy about comparing him to Jesus.'

So what do you think? Is Social Media a threat? Or is it giving a voice to the thousands of angry people frustrated at the political system in Ireland?
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# 2 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 10:36
 
 
That was some intro,,,
errm,,, No and yes.
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# 3 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 10:39
 
 
I think it's one of those things that the media just love to jump on, there is also a massive backlash from print and broadcast media to online media. I work in PR and many of the print journalists I work with are now refusing to give coverage to products that are giving exclusive content to bloggers. I can't really blame them as many of these in beauty/skincare are just greedy bitches who want free stuff!

However, after the incident with Shane McEntee I have decided to try and not personally insult people in the public domain regardless of how much of a problem I have with their comments or opinions. I did say something quite abusive about that man and I feel very ashamed that I could have contributed to him taking his own life. I know there was probably more to his story but I do think everybody should be more responsible when it comes to talking about famous people whether they be politicians or reality tv stars.
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# 4 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 10:43
 
 
It's becoming harsher and harsher to be in the public eye. You don't even have to have done something wrong to be at the receiving end of a tide of abuse. It's bound to cause distress to some of those who happen to be in positions where they are well known.
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# 5 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 12:54
 
 
And this is why I could never be President.

People are cunts social media just lets everyone else see the comments that they would have previously made in private.
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# 6 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 13:13
 
 
Some of the stuff you see posted on Twitter is outrageous and sometimes utter drink-fueled bile. As long as everyone agrees not to take it literally then we'll be fine. But I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of it myself.
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# 7 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 13:14
 
 
It's easy access for morons who haven't done their home work before commenting. Which is damaging, when a witch hunt starts.
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# 8 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 14:53
 
 
Twitter has put a different complexion on off-hand web comments because it gets such traction from both the media and politics.

You could post away about anything on Gaire or Boards.ie or facebook and it's unlikely that it will ever go beyond where you posted it.

But the print media is besotted with Twitter and it is not just monitored but actively used as a news source. Just look at independent.ie on any given day and you will see news stories based on twitter. (Today, it's #cutforbieber) You'll see a few more quoting from Twitter reaction.

The political classes also adore twitter because they see it as a barometer and also a way of instantly finding out what the chattering classes think. Government press officers actively monitor Twitter daily. They don't study politics.ie or facebook. Just Twitter.

So if you say on twitter that Enda Kenny is a ****, chances are, some one of his advisors will read it. Or some journalist will read it. Or both. So your words carry considerably more clout on Twitter.

Also, because Twitter puts itself across as a "micro-blogging platform", it absolves itself of any responsibility to moderate. So a lot of unmoderated activity takes place.

The upshot is that you can wound, defame or mislead more rapidly and on a greater scale via Twitter. It can be a very potent platform.

Add to this the fact that it is not a closed system - you can read what people are saying on twitter without having an account. And that can also mean that you see negative comments without the context. You might read the abusive comments of a crackpot and not realise that nobody is following them and their rants are having minimal impact. Or you might not see that a comment was in the context of a joke circulating.

So there are an array of problems there. I have to add too that Twitter is remarkably conducive to angry mobs. Hardly a day goes by on Twitter without a bunch of people getting all outraged and venomous over something or someone. Last Friday, mild-mannered Unionist politician David Adams wrote a negative appraisal of twitter culture for the Irish Times and the twitter mob grew very angry. For a platform that offers diversity of opinion, it sure gets pretty homogenous at times.

Left-wing academic analyst Gavan Titley wrote a piece for The Journal last Friday in which he ridiculed concerns over twitter in Ireland as a 'moral panic'. The Guardian then hired him to write a longer piece for their site on the same topic.

Both Adams and Titley are writing from extremes, so neither have really pinned the strengths and weaknesses of Twitter.

I think Twitter is very useful. I use it to keep in touch with family and friends, to chat to neighbours, to see what people are saying about tv shows, to follow current affairs, and to chuck in my own bit of blather. But when you give out about someone or something on twitter, you have to remind yourself that you may be firing with a revolver, not a cap-gun.

As far as abuse goes, abuse differs from defamation, which is actionable. (Today's Herald front page is about defamation lawsuits against some people on twitter.) Abuse is unpleasant but sometimes a feature of public discourse. If abusive tone and language were completely out of order, then the Herald would have to fire Ian O'Doherty. And Pat Rabbitte would have to resign his seat.

I think people should avoid being abusive if they can, for a range of reasons. But I would hate to see our society become like England, where the police can come and visit you if you say something rude on Twitter, or you can end up in court for making a joke.

There's something that can be done too - and by twitter users. If you feel someone on twitter is being abusive towards someone else, you can unfollow them. Or you can tell them what you think. Or both. You can tone down your own language. And you can avoid hopping on the outrage bandwagons.
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# 9 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 15:25
 
 
As you say, it's an open platform and easily searchable so lends itself to being an instantly accessible source of up-to-the-minute comments to anyone with an internet connection. Very powerful when it is being used by 170 million active users (out of 500 million accounts).
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# 10 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 15:28
 
 
Well said Wheelie, very astutely put.
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# 11 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 17:37
 
 
The solution is simple.
I don't use Twitter or Facebook and I've decided to not be famous.
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# 12 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 20:12
 
 
No its not justified, moral panics rarely are I suppose. I just hope that the panic passes before the Government manage to pass some silly reactionary legislation.
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# 13 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 20:22
 
 
I think the way that "KPMG" drunk posh girl video has gone viral is VERY disturbing
to be honest....the irony of it is I fucking loath people like that however
it transpired the girl was only 16 years old and despite the extremly offensive class-discriminatory things she said i think she is a child and it was immoral to record her in that state and then smear it all over the net.

Adults beratting her and mocking her about should consider how easily one of their kids (or themselves) could be videoed in a compromising throwaway moment and recorded and autotuned for posterity, nasty stuff

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# 14 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 20:24
 
 
I think there does need to be a lot more education amongst younger people about cyber bullying though which is a related issue.

And there are issues about recording things and shoving them nonchalantly up on youtube that I find perhaps worrying.

Comments on youtube are just sick and twisted
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# 15 : Tuesday 8-1-2013 @ 20:27
 
 
Someone said :
I think the way that "KPMG" drunk posh girl video has gone viral is VERY disturbing
to be honest....the irony of it is I fucking loath people like that however
it transpired the girl was only 16 years old and despite the extremly offensive class-discriminatory things she said i think she is a child and it was immoral to record her in that state and then smear it all over the net.

Adults beratting her and mocking her about should consider how easily one of their kids (or themselves) could be videoed in a compromising throwaway moment and recorded and autotuned for posterity, nasty stuff

I'm not surprised it's gone viral. I haven't watched it and don't intend to. But unlike other viral videos of people making an idiot of themselves, it seems to have split opinion. Nearly everyone I've seen commenting online about it has been in her defense.
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