Mother 'sorry' for son's Collymore tweet

Published Wednesday, 22 January 2014
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The mother of a Dungannon boy who tweeted racial abuse to the talkSPORT presenter and former footballer Stan Collymore has apologised for her son's actions.

Mother 'sorry' for son's Collymore tweet
Former footballer and talkSPORT presenter Stan Collymore. (© Getty)

Police across the UK, including the PSNI, launched investigations after the broadcaster received a series of messages which included racial abuse and death threats, on the social networking site.

Collymore, who is renowned for his forthright views, said the level of "casual, cruel, racist abuse" he had received should not be ignored.

He highlighted some of the worst examples, by retweeting them or posting screenshots, in a bid to raise awareness of the extent of the problem.

He also accused Twitter of not doing enough.

Among the racist messages was one from a user whose location was given as Dungannon.

The 14-year-old boy's mother told UTV her son had made a "terrible mistake" and that he was "very sorry".

She also took to Twitter to apologise directly apologise to Collymore for her son's tweet.

She said: "I would like to apologise for the remark my 14 year old son made to you, I'm gutted, he's devastated."

In response to other users, she added: "He is sorry and didn't think, he's just turned 14, he has learnt a very hard lesson.

"He is not racist in anyway, he was very stupid."

She also revealed that her son had received abuse for the message he had posted, but that he would not be allowed on the internet "for a very long time".

Following the message the woman received a number of tweets of support.

"Your bravery and courage in addressing this publicly, when it would be so easy to hide, is admirable. Fair play," replied one user.

Collymore received the abuse following remarks he made about a football match involving his former club Liverpool and the controversial Luis Suarez.

Collymore said the player dived in order to gain a penalty in the game against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Stan, who works for UTV Media plc-owned talkSPORT explained: "The abuse that I'm getting now, it's casual, cruel, racist abuse - photos being sent to me by children of hangings in the Deep South, talk of slavery and cotton picking."

If we ignore racism or homophobia, it's not going to go away.

Stan Collymore

Staffordshire Police have said that the behaviour is criminal and unacceptable.

"We are currently liaising with Twitter to obtain subscriber details," a spokesman confirmed, adding that evidence will be gathered and presented to the Crown Prosecution Service.

"We all have a shared responsibility to treat each other with dignity and respect."

A PSNI spokesman added: "Police in Dungannon are investigating abusive comments posted on social media in relation to an individual. Enquiries are continuing."

In a statement, Twitter said that it does not comment on individual accounts "for privacy and security reasons" - but that stance has only angered Collymore, who insists that action is needed.

He is particularly concerned given that he feels that Twitter users are generally getting younger.

While some celebrities who have been targeted, like diver Tom Daley or singer Boy George, have said they ignore the trolls, Collymore fears that not everyone can do that - particularly children.

"It really isn't about me," he said.

"You can block people and move on, but when it gets to a point where nothing is seemingly being done ... It's not for Tom Daley or Boy George or Stan Collymore.

"It's for people of all ages who are engaging with each other on a daily basis, so they can feel safe in the future."

While Collymore expects to draw a certain amount of heat in his role as a football pundit, he says those who disagree with his opinions are entitled to do so - but should never resort to abuse.

On Wednesday evening, talkSPORT confirmed that it had written to Twitter to express the station's dissatisfaction with the handling of the abusive messages received by its employee.

"We are dismayed at the lack of response and perceived inaction by Twitter. Racist or abusive messages of this nature are illegal and unacceptable," the station's Chief Executive Scott Taunton said.

"We have more than three million Twitter followers across our accounts, but we will not promote these until we are satisfied that Twitter is doing its utmost to prevent abuse of this nature.

"We have a duty of care to all our staff and presenters and until I am satisfied that Twitter is treating this seriously, we will no longer promote Twitter accounts or use tweets on-air."

He added: "It seems inconceivable that a hi-tech company with a market capitalisation of $30bn appears incapable of preventing racist and abusive tweets being broadcast across its platform."

talkSPORT has called for Twitter to pledge to cooperate fully and expediently with police whenever it is asked for information on racist/homophobic/sexist/anti-disability/anti-semitic hate messages.

It has asked that Twitter acts immediately to address complaints about offensive hate messages and that these illegal tweets are deleted as soon as possible after Twitter receives a complaint.

talkSPORT has also asked that filtering is put in place to prevent hate language being used in tweets.

We cannot stop people from saying offensive, hurtful things on the internet or on Twitter.

Twitter

Twitter has said in a statement that it has "a clear process for working with the police".

"Twitter is an open communications platform. Our priority is that users are able to express themselves, within acceptable limits and, of course, within the law," a statement said.

"We take action when content is reported to us that breaks our rules or is illegal."

Another broadcaster Piers Morgan, known for his outspoken approach, has been backing the call for Twitter to act on the issue - in turn falling victim to online trolls himself.

He also retweeted some examples of the abusive messages, including explicit death threats.

"I repeat, racist abuse & death threats both criminal offences in UK. So keep spewing it, trolls, and I will have you ALL dealt with," he posted.

Morgan followed up by tweeting some of the Twitter accounts that he blamed for the abuse, to prove that they had been suspended.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
3 Comments
ritan in .dungannon. wrote (274 days ago):
stay of twitter its a scurge .how did we manage before it was invented. .
Mark in belfast wrote (274 days ago):
Facebook is the same. if media sites can handle the tweets and posts, they can filter them. I just wonder how many of these abusers would actually say it to there face!!!.
stan in belfast wrote (274 days ago):
what makes this any different than all the vile sectarian abuse posted on social media every day by people here? why are they not chased up by the police?
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