Last week, Neil Lennon spoke on behalf of the refs and managers in England, and on behalf of himself, when he said that social media companies need to clamp down on some of the stuff that is posted online.
This is nothing new; Lennon has said this many times before.
I say “be careful what you wish for.”
Whilst nobody wants to see racist speech or hate speech on the internet, the social media companies do crack down on this stuff; they just don’t do it rigorously or well. The police are another matter.
Threatening communications are illegal. Hate speech online is illegal. Racism is illegal.
These are things the police do arrest people for and which the PF does prosecute on.
Lennon and others want exactly what changes made?
What do they want done different?
I half suspect that one of some of these guys really want is for the silencing of their online critics.
Where do calls like this start to become about restricting debate and the erosion of our right to express ourselves as being angry at how our clubs are run?
Lennon has already shown that he’s unwilling to take even muted criticism; his demand for absolute loyalty from those who would call themselves his friends is one example of his intolerance of any negative form of scrutiny.
I think this was a little of that.
But only a little, because Lennon is different.
Lennon, unlike some others who frequently make these kind of calls, knows what the real thing looks like. He has been on the end of genuine hate speech and the kind of threats that demand to be taken seriously.
I understand that this isn’t just a case of him wanting to silence dissent.
He genuinely feels strongly about this stuff, and with good reason.
But in his cases a lot of people were prosecuted to the fullest limit of the law … so the framework already exists for going after these folks and that, at least, we can say for sure.
We all know that part of the problem is anonymity, which is especially prevalent on Twitter, where just about anyone can set up an account giving no personal information at all.
Twitter should be like Facebook in that regard; it should have a requirement that each individual on it submit accurate info about who they are before the account goes active.
Other than that, I don’t know what else they are meant to do.
The social media companies are easy targets, even easier than the managers and officials.
They aren’t perfect but they do what they can, in an imperfect world.
Restricting free speech won’t make it a better one.