Should Twitter trolls be named and shamed ?

Twitter Headquarters


Partner at Kingsley Napley lawyers

Over the last 10 years it has become a major part of mine and my colleagues’ legal practices to deal with the effects of online harassment and abuse. The attitude Twitter is taking now shows an increase in its understanding of its responsibilities, and it will become more difficult for those who have been successful at online harassment.

Often victims must go through a long and near impossible process of trying to verify who their abuser is, and while I do not agree with any form of naming and shaming in terms of dealing with a bully, I do agree with making it more difficult for people to hide their online identity and become an abuser. Saying it is an affront to freedom of speech is not a realistic way of looking at a measure that should have been taken a long time ago. They couldn’t go on doing nothing.


Senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire

Twitter has far more users than admin staff, and this new tool takes advantage of the users as a resource to moderate the site. It’s likely to be very useful for companies and organised groups that are all likely to be targeted by the same people, but not for casual users who suddenly find themselves in the middle of a Twitter storm. It also doesn’t solve the problem of determined haters who use multiple new accounts in order to sneak back through as you would have to keep updating your list to stay on top of the problem.

However, this new tool for community moderation is a simple and clever idea which means more power to users, which can only be part of the solution.


Founder of National Bullying Helpline

I believe it would be dangerous to name and shame folk publicly. I fear it would entice hatred. Revealing the identity of the perpetrator may lead to people trying to take matters into their own hands. This would be irresponsible. However, there should be a database of offenders that the police, courts and responsible parties may hold. This might ensure that offenders who repeatedly appear are dealt with.


Member of the Scottish Parliament, and minister for Europe and international development in the Scottish government

I’ve suffered every sort of racial and Islamophobic abuse that you could probably think of. But yet I would say I would be concerned if we were naming and shaming people, only because it can work both ways. The last thing we want is for someone who has been stupid, has been offensive, has been racist or misogynist to be the victim of mob justice and for lots of people to find out the identity of that individual and possibly give them – and indeed their families – abuse.

I think the best thing is for Twitter to be much, much more efficient at getting people removed from Twitter. It is not difficult to do, and I am disappointed it has so far been so lacklustre and laissez-faire in doing so.

Powered by article was written by Emily Hughes, for The Observer on Saturday 11th July 2015 06.59 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010