FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has called for social media trolls to be forced to identify themselves and say where they live online.
The suggestion came in a discussion on bullying on BBC’s This Week presented by Andrew Neil, which touched upon the issue of supporters of political parties creating anonymous accounts on social media to attack those who oppose their views.
Last month Labour published a document claiming to unmask some SNP members who are cybernats, however the party have so far declined to comment over whether any action has been taken.
The party also refused to drop its Edinburgh South candidate Neil Hay during the election when he was revealed to have used an anonymous Twitter account under the name Paco McSheepie to question the right of pensioners to vote and describing opponents of devolution as “Quislings” after the infamous Norwegian Nazi collaborator.
The SNP has always pointed out that there are other so called Twitter trolls who are Unionists and support other political parties.
Following the revelations concerning Mr Hay, Nicola Sturgeon was urged by Scottish Labour’s Kezia Dugdale to sack the Edinburgh South candidate.
Ms Dugdale said: “I am sure the First Minister will rightly condemn this and note that Mr Hay has apologised, but that is not enough. Will the First Minister sack Neil Hay as the SNP’s candidate?”
Ms Sturgeon responded: “Firstly, Kezia Dugdale is right, I do condemn the language used and I condemn the comments made, as I always do when anybody steps out of line on Twitter, Facebook or any medium.”
But the First Minister touched upon comments made by prominent Labour supporter Ian Smart who had described the SNP as ‘fascist scum’.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I would invite Kezia Dugdale, before she comes to me lecturing me on what she expects me to do about SNP members, can I just politely suggest to her that she puts her own house in order first.”
During the discussion on the weekly political programme regular guest Labour MP Diane Abbott said: “The real problem is all that online bullying which is relentless, it’s horrible.”
Discussing the problem of online abuse, Mr Neil added: “Anonymity is the thing that makes people brave and they hide behind that. If you weren’t allowed to use social media unless you had to give your proper name and even address that would change it wouldn’t it?”
Mr Salmond replied: “I don’t disagree. I think that’s a great idea.”
Later he added to Mr Neil: “I agree with you. I think name and identification is an excellent way to do it.”