Warrington-Worldwide.co.uk incorporates the Village Life, Culcheth Life, Frodsham Life & Lymm Life magazines.

The toxic world of trolling and politics

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SITTING through a full day of the trial of a former councillor who has been found guilty of “trolling” retired Warrington North MP Helen Jones by bombarding local news websites with comments under stories, re-enforced to me how toxic the world of politics has become.

While a lot of trolling generally takes place on social media, this case involved comments being posted under articles on local news websites, including our own.

There is sometimes a fine line between freedom of speech and trolling – but in the eyes of the law this former Cllr clearly over stepped the mark by posting literally hundreds of comments, many attacking Helen Jones, members of her family and office staff.

The fact she had to change her way of life due to living in fear of an unknown stalker, just shows how this kind of behaviour can impact on peoples’ lives.

These days it is so easy to make comments about people online and indeed I have been a “victim” myself on many occasions.

The internet and social media has become a way of life for many of us and we all have to try our best and use it responsibly.

It is easy to sit at home and lash out at people online – but we have to remember they are human beings with feelings and if these attacks are coming from an unknown source on a regular basis they can clearly be very distressng.

This prosecution is something of a landmark case in the Warrington area and will form some kind of precedent for anyone making defammatory comments online in the future.

Here at Warrington-Worldwide we are all for freedom of speech and only remove comments or block people on social media when we believe they have over stepped the mark.

It is something we would rather not have to do so I would appeal to all our readers who feel the need to comment on local issues and the actions of politicians or anyone else going about their work, to take note of the case below and think very carefully before posting any comments which are defamatory or untrue.

Former Labour Cllr. found guilty of “trolling” MP Helen Jones

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

10 Comments

  1. I never can understand why people post as an alias – surely if you have a view you state it, with evidence and stand up for it.

    Having said that I bet we’d be surprised just how many people we know who do hide behind an alias.

    Will they also be outed as time goes by.

    A lot of damage has been done to local people by uncaring people.

    These trolls just wouldn’t say what they write to people’s faces.

    • WBC also resorts to aliases Geoff, most frequently when their “Spokesman” announces or leaks some unpalatable or controversial information for public consumption.

          • I can’t understand why Geoff, because I always try to make reasonably constructive comments without insulting people. If I have failed in this regard I apologise unreservedly.
            Re: Gary’s observation: I did incur the apparent wrath of B1LLYWIRES in more than one instance of his obsessive exchanges because I defended Helen Jones. In fact I have been called “a clown” by someone else for the same ‘offence’ in a current comments column in the WG.

          • Nothing meant by this Positron – I’m always trying to guess aliases but never find out who they are – only once has someone whispered in my ear do you know who I am – I’m bla bla on WWW forum. 🙂 So I keep seeking….

  2. Maybe, the media should refuse to publish comments from council ‘spokespeople’. I know this is very unlikely when the media also relies on established relationships with people like this, but don’t you think there are people in office and very well paid roles who should be prepared to stand by their own decisions? That’s why they get the big bucks or votes after all. Or maybe the media should be consistent and refuse to publish all the photos and good news stories which apparently don’t need ‘a spokesman’?

    Either way, nobody involved with the council has the right to moan about the anonymity people use when they use it so often themselves to avoid accountability.

    • Wholeheartedly agree. Particularly so with an authority which:
      a) only comparatively recently informed us we will be paying £109,000 each year until 2114 for a badly negotiated leasing arrangement, and for which no one alive can be held responsible;
      b) failed to disclose the illegal disposal of planning documents, whilst continuing to dispense and decide on planning matters for heaven knows how long, and again for which no one within the authority was held responsible;
      c) has refused to answer reasonably posed and phrased questions from council taxpayers on the cost of the new council offices;
      d) the detail of its investment in the Redwood Group (not the Bank as we were originally led to believe);

  3. I just don’t think that these people realise or appreciate the hurt that they can and do cause – it’s just a game to them – and one that has been going on for a long, long time (especially in politics but not exclusively) well before social media was even thought of – it’s just quicker these days. There should be a way of banning these people from sites for their persistence, maybe like issuing a yellow card followed by a red?

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