Vitriol control

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It seems that in his haste to reply to my letter and accusing me of prejudice, Ian Johnstone (Letters, 21 July) failed to read the article on page 13 in the same issue in which the sitting SNP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross has been quoted congratulating an online so-called cybernat troll on her comments and advised her that “I enjoy all your posts and your sense of humour”, that she “had a way with words” and to “keep it up”.

Comments have included pictures of No voters being hanged, and homophobic and derogatory sexual comments of political opponents.

At the recent general election an SNP candidate Neil Hay was uncovered as a so-called “cyber troll” making derogatory comments about pensioners and calling No voters “quislings”.

My letter merely highlighted the hypocritical statements made by the SNP on dealing with online abuse while failing to act to deal with it. As can be seen from the two examples above they lay themselves open to allegations of encouraging unacceptable behaviour.

Mr Johnstone gives, presumably as a reason for non-action, an excuse that in his experience opponents of nationalism are worse. We can only speak from personal experience and my experience is different.

However, I do agree that any online abuse is unacceptable and should be dealt with on all sides.

Paul Lewis

Guardwell Crescent

Edinburgh

Ian Johnstone (Letters, 21 July) suggests moderators should do more to prevent online abuse and vitriol.

But there is much simpler and more effective solution – require every contributor to use their real name and publish their home address, or for the brief comment sites, provide a direct link to such authenticated information.

When we write a letter to your newspaper only in exceptional circumstances will you publish that letter without including our names and addresses. One of Scotland’s national newspapers insists on publishing the full postal address.

Why should it be any different online?

There is good evidence that this approach works: look for Anonymity and Online Commenting, a report of a study by a group of Cambridge researchers presented at the Web Science 2015 conference.

James Gilmour

East Parkside

Edinburgh

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