The Anonymous Widower

The Problems Of Twitter

We have had a lot of stories in the past few years about people being abused on Twitter and similar sites, such as this report about Stan Collimore.

I have been involved in a few studies about malicious calls in the past with BT and have a small amount of knowledge. For instance, those that abuse usually target someone specific like an ex partner or employer or they might do the opposite and tend to target a range of people.

But there is always a pattern, as people are creatures of habit!

I also did some work years ago with project management software to see, if it were possible to fill in the blanks on an activity, based on other activities in a project and the words in the description. Techniques of language recognition, weren’t that good in the 1980s, but I believe that it is now possible to make a better fist of it.

Twitter messages are a string of a few words and I believe that computers can now get the flavour of what is said with a bit of help.  After all Google often gives you what you want in a search, that is full of spelling and typing mistakes.

So let’s say you get an abusive Twitter message. By flagging it to Twitter, they should be able to automatically determine if the contents fits a typical abusive pattern, based on the words and the tweeting profile of the sender.

An automatic warning would then ensue if it was deemed necessary, followed by deletion of the account, if the abuser persisted.

I obviously don’t know the thoughts of Twitter, but I’m absolutely certain, that an automatic system could be developed based on technology that works well in other areas.

The trouble is, any system like this is against the American rules on Free Speech. But it probably would be acceptable to many of those who have suffered abuse.

January 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | Leave a comment

Do People Prefer A Terrible Local Hospital?

This article from the Express and Star illustrates the problems of reforming local health services.

The problems that existed at Stafford Hospital have been well documented.  This report from the BBC is typical of many I’ve seen.

One of the problems with hospitals with bad reputations either in the media or amongst medical professionals, is that no staff will move there, as they want to protect their professional reputation. There is a story about this from the Stoke Sentinel.

But those that want to keep Stafford Hospital going, have no right to use some of the abuse they have against Julie Bailey, who fought valiantly to expose the scandal of poor healthcare at the hospital. It’s probably lucky for Ms. Bailey, that she appears to be white.  I suppose that is lucky for her abusers, as otherwise some of the language used would have probably involved a reference to the police.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Health, News | , | 3 Comments

Twitter Abuse Is Part Of A Larger Problem

I don’t actively use Twitter, although I do post things occasionally, but I never look at what people say and don’t follow anyone.

I whole-heartedly condemn those who abuse others on the site or in fact any other site. As Mary Beard, someone who has suffered lots of abuse and threats, has just said on television, I think that abusers should face the full force of the law.

In some ways, Twitter abuse, is part of a larger problem in Internet usage. It seems that immediately some people pick up a phone or get to a keyboard, they feel they must send something inappropriate. But these people wouldn’t generally walk into their neighbour’s house and call them something unpleasant or say show a beautiful picture to someone who was obviously blind!

And it’s not just in personal life, that this happens. I get plagued by unwanted e-mails, trying to sell me a car leasing deal, from companies all over the country. I don’t particularly care and always unsubscribe, but the same companies keep sending them. If I was a driver, I certainly wouldn’t buy anything from any of them.

There is an old maxim about treating people, how you would like to be treated yourself. It would appear that this goes out the window, where the Internet is concerned.

If you abuse a dog, you can be banned by the Courts, from keeping one.  Perhaps, people who don’t use the Internet courteously should be banned from having a mobile phone and denied a broadband connection.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Computing | , , | Leave a comment

Sexist Tweets

There have been two big stories lately about two women ; Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasey being abused on Twitter

I have never abused anybody knowingly on Twitter and I condemn the abusers unconditionally.  Although on the other hand some of the things I’ve said, might have provoked a rabid response from certain classes of bigots. I have removed the odd message saying what I said was rubbish, but there has been nothing I have not found honest comment.

I will defend some men in particular, by saying that there are quite a few good men out there, who know how to treat a woman properly.  I hope I do, as I did manage to keep my half of a relationship going for over forty years.

It’s not difficult! You just need a bit of give and take!

July 29, 2013 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | Leave a comment

How To Abuse A New Zealander

Apparently a judge has said that calling a New Zealander, a stupid, fat Aussie is racial abuse. It’s here in the Australian.

I belong to an Internet forum about Visual Basic and sometimes, the banter between Aussies and Kiwis has got a bit fruity, with frequent references to sheep. Although, it hasn’t happened for some time!

I’ve also been involved in lots of banter with Aussies, that you wouldn’t have used with some nationalities as they are much more sensitive.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Floyd Mayweather Doesn’t Like the Jail Food

Then he shouldn’t have beaten his wife.  It’s here in the Telegraph.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Food, News, Sport | , , , , | 1 Comment

People Shouldn’t be so Thin-Skinned

There is a story in the Standard last night entitled Tantrum of the Opera. A Twickenham housewife tweeted to her friend that although she had seen the musical eighty  times, she couldn’t stand the star. It has now developed into a full-blooded row.

I would make three conclusions from this.

In the first place the comment was only tweeted to a friend and thus the star is being a bit over the top.

Secondly, the lady has seen the musical eighty times, and so as she is effectively paying some of the star’s wages, she deserves a little respect.

Lastly, if I was producing a musical, I know someone, who I wouldn’t be employing.

They were also discussing another case on BBC Breakfast this morning, where someone made a comment about an X-Factor contestant. She has now suffered months of abuse.

She was possibly a bit unwise to say what she says, but it does illustrate, why you should always be careful what you say on social networking sites. However to abuse the lady and call her all sorts of unwise things in totally wrong.

The sooner we have a high profile case, where one of these so called trolls, gets some time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the better. It will be interesting to see how much abuse the judge gets.

I have had a bit of abuse in my time over this blog and suspect it was because the post was about an odious foreign government.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | Leave a comment

A Car Registration of BF.

Parked dubiously and possibly illegally at Upper Street tonight was a rather flash car with the number plate BF followed by a few digits.

To my father, this would have been appropriate as BF were used as a term of abuse by his generation.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

My Views on Abuse Reporting

In the previous post, I said that commercial pressures and the fact that most of the social networking and other companies are outside the jurisdiction of the UK and the EU, will make it very difficult to enforce any proper reporting of abuse.

But we can do something.

Take Sunday morning.  I was driving out of Cambridge, when a guy in a very large 4×4 pulled out on me.  He just didn’t look and if there had been anything coming the other way, I would had the choice of hitting his vehicle side-on or the other vehicle head-on.  Luckily, there wasn’t any traffic and I passed easily.

I did shake my head at him and he took offence.  So as I drove out of the city in a queue of traffic at the legal limit, he was about a couple of metres from my back bumper.  This behaviour continued on the A14, until I was able to let him go.

We’ve all had things like this happen and they are just too trivial to report.  For me life is too short and I have many more important things to do, than waiting in a Police Station to fill in endless forms, that will result in no action at all.

Now, this guy’s behaviour could have been caused by many things.  He may have just got out of bed the wrong side, had a row with his girl-friend or more seriously he may have been severely hung over from the night before.  One off’s are excusable, but supposing he’s a bad driver all the time and is always driving like this.  If it’s the latter he needs to be informed that his behaviour is not acceptable.

I should say that I have a vested interest at this point.  A few years before my wife died, she had breast cancer.  The cancer appeared at exactly the same spot, as where she had got a bruise from a car air-bag in an accident. (Search various forums and you’ll find other women, who have got breast cancer by say being hit by a ball, whilst playing tennis or squash.)  The cause of the accident had been a foreign truck driver.  A few months later we believe that the same driver killed an innocent motorist because he was driving outside his hours.

How many near misses had the truck driver had in the UK between the accident with my wife and the killing of the other driver?

What is needed is a site, where driving misbehaviour can be reported?  Not a site run by say the transport industry, which only reports compliments, but one run by the Police.

Obviously, the Police would not be able to follow-up every report, but software exists to analyse these reports to identify the worst offenders.  (I’ve wrote systems like this so I know!)  So if say a vehicle is always cutting up other drivers, then it can be identified.  Probably in most cases a simple letter to the keeper of the vehicle would suffice.

But, one thing that has to be born in mind is the fact that often bad drivers, find it impossible to get any insurance and so how many of those reported would be drivers who shouldn’t be on the road for one reason or another.  You may think that this a bad link, but the Police have shown that if they stop a driver without valid documents, there is a fifty percent chance a non-motoring offence is being committed.

The system would have to have safeguards, but just as it would identify bad and irresponsible drivers, it would also identify the vindictive, who perhaps constantly report someone for parking outside their house, when they have a perfect right to do so.  I’ve heard policemen say that these are sometimes the worst disputes between neighbours.

Properly used such a database would be an asset to everyone, but if it was setup badly, it could be used as a means of abuse.

Over the last few days, we’ve had reports of cyberbullying and problems with social networking sights.

Let’s take the cyberbullying first and I’ll add to that all of the fraudulent scam e-mails that you get trying to extract money from your bank account.  The problems may be different, but the solutions are the same.

The government should have a short text message number and a simple e-mail address, where any unwanted message can be sent.  These could then be analysed and real abusers located.  With say mobile phones, the abuser would just be told to desist and after a second strike their number would be cancelled.  The same could be done with e-mail messages too, although here it would be more difficult to cancel addresses as many are outside the jurisdiction.  But many of these e-mail scams use UK phone numbers, which can of course be cancelled immediately.

Some would argue that this might be a bit draconian, but I suspect, it would most abusers would quickly take the hind and desist.  You won’t stop the foreign crooks and their scams, but hopefully the publicity would mean that there work was less productive.

There is always the point about who pays.

In fact, if done properly, these sort of systems would be self-financing, as there would be reductions in motoring offences, cyberbullying and e-mail fraud.

Unfortunately, Pete’s budget would have to be raided to pay for Paul’s. Governments never do that well!

November 18, 2009 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , | 2 Comments