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Hate mob rules
Twitter, Issue 1496
katy-minshall.jpg “I WANT to concentrate on what Twitter is doing to protect women,” said Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry QC when questioning Twitter’s UK head of public policy, Katy Minshall, at a parliamentary hearing two weeks ago. The consequence for Cherry of raising the issue is that she herself now needs police protection.

Cherry showed Minshall a video clip posted by the American gamer Sonic Fox, who has 169,000 followers, in which a woman repeatedly has her neck cut open. “This is what I do to TERFs,” he tweeted. When Cherry pointed out that Twitter had initially found nothing wrong with the tweet, Minshall proudly declared that it had since been removed. But when? “Last night.” Minshall admitted it was deleted only after she’d seen a tweet about it from the MP herself – who was due to be interrogating her the next day. The moral of the story, Cherry suggested, is that violent threats to women are fine by Twitter unless prominent figures make a fuss.

In the Sonic Fox case there had also been a protest from Helen Lewis of the New Statesman. Cherry showed a second video “which was sent to Helen Lewis when she raised concerns online about the first film… It’s a very unpleasant representation of a man flaying a woman alive”.

Torrent of hate tweets
Lewis was also sent a tweet saying “SHUT THE FUCK UP TERF”, over a drawing of someone pointing a gun. When she complained, Twitter told Lewis: “We have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behaviour.” It changed its mind – surprise! – after Cherry announced that she was going to challenge Minshall about the tweet.

But mark the sequel. Because she objected to a violent image captioned “SHUT THE FUCK UP TERF”, Cherry herself was then vilified online as a “transphobe”. Indignant, she issued a statement pointing to her 30-year record of campaigning for LGBT+ rights: “I am saddened by abusive nature of the current Twitter debate. As I have repeatedly stated publicly I deplore any abuse directed towards trans people.”

Enter Lily Madigan, the 21-year-old transgender activist and national women’s officer for Labour Students, who is well known for abusing feminists on Twitter (“terfs… shitty people… they can go fuck themselves”). Furious that Cherry had dared defend herself, Madigan tweeted: “You can tell a lot about someone by how they respond to being called transphobic. This isn’t even an apology.”

The torrent of hate tweets engulfing Cherry after she protested at, er, “extremely offensive violent tweets sent to women” included what appeared to be a serious death threat – a picture with a gun and the words “DO IT” alongside details of the MP’s Friday surgery in her constituency. At last week’s surgery she had to be accompanied by two police protection officers.

More top stories in the latest issue:

BALLS OF STEEL
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POSTAL DISORDER
The Post Office gets a judicial roasting over its mischievous claim that the judge who had found failings in its treatment of sub-postmasters was biased.

BLUE-LIGHT ALERT
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TUC NEWS
Unredacted court papers that show a union official conniving in the blacklisting of construction workers will make embarrassing reading at the top of Unite.

BEWARE THE WATCHDOG
Failures by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in handling complaints about nurses who assess disability benefit claimants could put people at risk, a report finds.

COURT CIRCULAR
Harry and Meghan’s handling of the announcement of Archie’s birth upends royal protocol – and makes Buck House press office look incompetent.

A ROYAL BERTH
How ITN cashed in on Baby Sussex, flogging broadcasters access to its prime live position – sometimes for just five minutes – on Windsor’s Long Walk.

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Private Eye Issue 1495