How many of us follow a celebrity or public figure on Twitter or Facebook? We’re sure that, no matter what your preferences to what can be classed as a celebrity are, you will follow someone who is famed for something. This gives us an incredible ability to get close to people in the public eye, closer than we could than say 10 years ago. But this closeness can also bring out our frustrations, where people may criticize and abuse almost without limits.
An example of british diver Tom Daley getting abuse following his Bronze medal at the Olympics
It’s this abuse that has prompted UK based software company Social Media C4 (SMC4) to launch what is the world’s first anti-trolling software, called SMC4 Lite. In fact, it’s a re-purposed application that was originally designed to stop mistaken tweets by company employees.
With public figures in mind (actors, musicians, politicians, business and world leaders, etc), the software has been designed to read incoming and outgoing messages on a user’s Twitter account and block profanity, sexism, racism and other language deemed inappropriate. Michael Veenswyk, chief executive of SMC4 has said:
The proliferation of social media has enabled people to get closer than ever to public figures, but the flip-side is that it has also opened up an unwanted avenue of antisocial abusive communication towards celebrities. It's unfortunately an epidemic that has found its way into day-to-day social communication and needs to be stamped out as no person should be subject to vile and abusive social media attacks.
Examples of Twitter users turning on major and minor celebrities include Lee Westwood’s public criticism of his own critics, Alec Baldwin’s very public rant towards a Daily Mail journalist and even celeb on celeb action, with Chris Brown’s profane tirade against comedian Jenny Johnson.
Veenswky has stated the software could also be used to protect children from online bullying by other children and be used with other social media outlets such as Facebook. However, Facebook does not enable third parties to control private accounts, therefore rendering the SMC4 app redundant. Veenswky added:
Mark Zucerkburg and Facebook have a duty of care to protect young people and could easily stop social media abuse by unlocking the Private Facebook user API, enabling authorized 3rd parties like SMC4 to end profanity attacks and trolling.
The free version will allow up to 10 ‘transactions’ per day. This means that every six minutes, the Twitter account associated with the software will scan and remove abusive tweets, but only up to ten times per day. While generous, average Joe or Jane can become an internet sensation and in these cases, 10 transactions just aren’t enough. Recent cases in the UK have highlighted the need for something more to be done to stop cyber abuse, no matter where it originates. The fallout from the #SlaneGirl story comes to mind and, while not on Twitter, 14 year old Hannah Smith committed suicide after being subjected to abuse on Ask.fm.
Source: The Telegraph | Image courtesy of cnet