Social media poison is leaking out into real world – leader comment

Death threats against three-time world champion speed skater Elise Christie and wildlife presenter Chris Packham show the depths to which our society is sinking.

Elise Christie is one of Scotland's greatest-ever sportspeople (Picture: Tom Jenkins)
Elise Christie is one of Scotland's greatest-ever sportspeople (Picture: Tom Jenkins)

Death threats to wildlife experts and speed skaters. Just what is our society coming to?

The shocking revelations by Scottish speed skater Elise Christie – one of this country’s greatest ever sportspeople as a three-time world champion – and BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham should give us all pause for thought.

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Christie told how she had started self-harming after receiving death threats during the 2014 Winter Olympics, saying she “just ended up broken”.

And Packham spoke of receiving “death threats of a very serious nature” after backing restrictions on the shooting of ‘pest’ birds such as carrion crows, magpies and Canada geese.

Social media have given platforms to those with hate-filled attitudes to spew forth their bile, but firms appear to be belatedly waking up to the idea that making death threats is not covered by freedom of speech and is actually an attack on it.

Skating should be a joyful thing. And Packham, who criticised Facebook for allowing a pro-shooting group to publish his home address, is entitled to express his views without fear of violence.