Scottish journalist left ‘shaken’ by online rape threats

New guidance on whether messages posted online constitute a crime was issued to police officers in 2014. Picture: PA

New guidance on whether messages posted online constitute a crime was issued to police officers in 2014. Picture: PA

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A young journalist has spoken of her fear after being subjected to rape threats on social media.

Jenny Constable received the messages on Twitter after posting a comment on the recent Ched Evans trial, in which the Welsh footballer was cleared of rape.

Jenny Constable said she was "devastated" by Twitter's initial response. Picture: Contributed

Jenny Constable said she was "devastated" by Twitter's initial response. Picture: Contributed

The 21-year-old from Blantyre immediately reported the two accounts involved but was left “devastated” by Twitter’s initial response, which claimed one had not violated the social media platform’s rules.

Constable, who edits the Strathclyde University newspaper, had originally posted the life of the woman involved in the Evans case had been “left ruined”.

She was branded “disgusting” in response by one user, posting under the name @eddygorman_.

Another twitter account, @_waitejack, replied: “I’ll go twos up and rape her with you.”

The Gorman account responded: “Let’s do it the feminist goon”.

Both were were later suspended after hundreds of Twitter users posted messages of support to Constable.

“On social media, especially if you’re a woman, you become used to getting the occasional troll or derogatory comment, but I had never been on the receiving level of abuse this frightening or malicious before,” she told The Scotsman.

“Twitter removed one of the accounts, but the other one remained active.

“I was pretty devastated, having known friends who have had their accounts suspended for posting comparatively harmless jokes, whereas two men publicly conspiring to rape me, was by Twitter’s standards, apparently acceptable.

“It wasn’t until I myself took the response to Twitter, and other people became outraged and involved, that the case was escalated and now both accounts seem to have been removed.

“Being a journalist, I can’t afford to not use social media, but this experience has left me feeling very shaken and unsafe.

“I can completely see why women are reluctant to call out abuse or voice controversial opinions, if they’re then opening themselves up to threats of physical abuse like the ones I received, which don’t warrant any repercussion.”

The issue of online abuse has been widely debated in recent years due to the growing popularity of sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, speaking in 2014, said: “The rule of thumb is simple - if it would be illegal to say it on the street, it is illegal to say it online.

“Those who use the internet to peddle hate or abuse, to harass, to blackmail, or any other number of crimes, need to know that they cannot evade justice simply by hiding behind their computers or mobile phones.”

The Scotsman has approached Twitter for comment.

READ MORE: ‘Abusive’ internet trolls will face justice

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