Making a difference (part2) in Twitter

Twitter often gets the news before the news channels, and sometimes straight from the horse’s mouth.

I favour the approach of trying to engage with brexiters, including those who are racists. This approach isn’t without problems,

Whether you are new to Twitter or not, if you like getting your current affairs info without spin or you want to get quick interpretations from other people in the know, then Twitter is where you should be (it is also possible to find every concievable interpretation of any particular news item, so do remember to bring your own brain with you).

Finding people to Follow. It’s easy to Follow people and fill up your feed with rubbish. If you have been on Twitter for years, then you will have built up a list of interesting people to Follow, but one of the main problems (I think) with Twitter is that it isn’t quick to find an initial good-quality list of people to follow on Twitter for an accurate feed of information on a particular topic without being over-run by random tweets.

Your own Follow list will undoutedly get fine-tuned over time, but these lists can be useful for long-term Twitterers too in order to avoid the ‘echo chamber’ effect. Either way, getting a new list of people to follow can be a real boost for an otherwise dull feed (or to dive into a new interest or issue…hence this post of course).

Managing your Follows efficiently by using Lists and other methods can become important if you have a lot of Follows, or if you don’t want to Follow everyone for ever, as will avoiding the pitfalls and idiots.

AntiBrexit contacts aren’t always easy to find, so see my post on Follow Recommendations for Twitter where you can find some starter lists.

Anti-troll tips. Another, bigger, problem with Twitter, is the existence of the legendary Trolls. Trolls are an unfortunate reality of Twitter, especially if you are engaging in political discussions. It is clear that some people think that freedom of speech means ‘freedom to annoy and abuse’, but there are ways to deal (or cope) with most situations. With a bit of practice, Trolls can often be dealt with or reported or turned away.

For serious issues, you should contact Twitter directly, but here are some tips for getting rid of trolls or minimising their impact:

  • Consider carefully what personal information you display on Twitter. As well as some inspirational and informative people, there are also some troubled and manipulative people on Twitter. If you are engaging in political discussion about Brexit, then you will get abuse. Unless you are seeking attention or a personal visit, do not put information such as addresses, phone numbers, place of birth, birthdate online. If you choose to use your real name, be aware that in the current political climate there are a lot of zealots about.
  • Report the user. This should be your first consideration if the level of abuse/insults is troubling. If you are receiving direct abuse or harassment, do not delay. You can find the Twitter support page here:
  • Report specific Tweets.
  • Block a user.
  • Temporarily Block. If you block someone, you then can’t see what they’re posting, and sometimes it is better to know. If you can bear peeking, try unblocking them after several hours (or days).
  • Mute. You can just stop seeing someone’s posts – they can still see yours. As with Blocking, you can choose to Mute someone for a few hours or a few days if you think they’ll calm down and engage in future conversations.
  • Adding a troll to an (insultingly named) twitter list sometimes annoys them enough for them to block you. Handy.
  • Remember that Twitter isn’t a safe place for kids.This is a bit of an aside, but in my opinion, if your child is trying to convince you that Twitter is safe, don’t believe them.

Making a difference (part 3) – Current polls, petitions and surveys

Here are some more things you can do to make a difference.

There are always some opinion polls, surveys, petitions etc to sign, and here is a list of current suggested polls in which you might be interested, along with their closing dates:

Leveson Enquiry (#Leveson2, closing date 10/01/2017, 5pm) 
If you think the press needs stronger regulation, then consider signing this. Led by the legendary @hackedoff , this is a continuation of the Leveson Enquiry about the phone hacking scandal, mainly involving News International.

The guidance on the @hackedoff site gives a template suggesting responses, which include this explanatory note:

This consultation is no substitute for Leveson’s 15-month inquiry which concluded, after receiving evidence from hundreds of expert witnesses, that that there should be new costs rules to incentivise publishers to join a recognised regulator.

Parliament enacted section 40 on the basis that it would be commenced, not that commencement was discretionary.

On the contrary, the Government promised the public and Parliament many times that the incentives in the cross-party agreement would be delivered.

Victims of press abuse need access to justice to take action against those newspapers who have not accepted Leveson style approved regulation. S.40 delivers that.

It is clear that many newspapers will not sign up to independent regulation without powerful incentives.’



There aren’t many heroes left

2016 has been a rubbish year, particularly for the deaths of many people who were classed (by many) as heroes.

Almost everyone in the UK is likely to regard at least one of the following people as a hero: Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, John Glenn, Prince, George Michael, Ronnie Corbett, Carrie Fisher, Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman.

There are fewer heroes at the end of 2016 than there were at the start, and even fewer of the real heroes (some of whom also appear in the list above) who fought in World War II. Veterans of WWI and WWII are the real heroes, as they fought for what we have, and for what we so easily give away.

In 2017, we will be looking for new heroes for a new age. And they will need to replace the divisive anti-heroes who have come to the fore during 2016.

Man of the people

I’m not going to mention him by name here, but let’s just call him ‘Voldemorte’ (for the Harry Potter fans among you, that should be sufficient).

I’ve never liked establishment figures masquerading as being ‘of the people’, and I resent the implication that someone represents me, when they do not – you might have noticed that by my current profile image too.

I’ve never liked self-important, self-appointed, self-serving politicians, the BNP, unfairness, smugness, rich people who claim expenses, blind-subservience, Piers Morgan or Ferrero Rocher either. Imagine my disdain when someone containing features of all of those things becomes convinced that he is some sort of deity. Imagine also that he demands unerring reverence too, and speaks in terms which suggests that many of the good things and good people in the world are ignored, and that I am told by this man and his supporters that racists, homophobes and bigots are in fact ‘right’.

They are not ‘right’. He is not ‘right’. They are right-wing extremists and not fit for ministerial office. Thankfully, Voldemorte has never been an MP, and never will be (I’m cheering up now). Voldemorte is an MEP, but not a useful or well-respected one, and he’s not even the self-appointed leader of anything at present (I’m really cheering up now).

He is not a ‘Man of the People’, he is (to quote Will Self) a ‘grubby little opportunist’ and one day the forelock-tugging of his followers will turn to disbelief that he has caused them such financial hardship and a lessening in protection via the removal of workplace regulations.

I suspect he’ll get drunker than usual and throw himself into his moat one moonlit night.



Moving On

There is no way we can accept bigotry and injustice and just ‘move on’. How can someone who has done more than anyone else in recent political history to divide the country suggest that we have to ‘unite’? Theresa May is desperate and clueless.

In 1975, there was a referendum to join the EEC. The result was 67% in favour of joining. Did the Eurosceptics shut up? No, of course not, because in 2016, there was a referendum which was won narrowly by 52% in favour of leaving the EU. Did that shut up those wanting to remain in the EU? No, of course not: If someone tells you to ‘Move on’, then tell them that is not the way democracy works.

In a similar way, if I voted Labour in one General Election, but the Conservatives won, should I be expected to ‘move on’ and embrace the Conservatives forever? Of course not.

Personally, I am waiting for the next chance to exercise my right to vote to rejoin the EU and I know others are too.

I am waiting for the ‘Ferrero Rocher’ approach to populism to wane (Ferrero Rocher are shiny, tasteless and over-rated too)

What can I do to stop Brexit?

Did you vote Remain? Or did you vote Leave and now regret it?

Were you disgusted by the twisting of stories published in newspapers (or by divisive, racist opinions on the TV)? Do you see Brexit distracting our elected public servants from saving the NHS? Have you watched the value of the pound fall and your holiday costs rise? Are you a business owner who is now facing increased import costs? Are your living costs going up?  Are you ashamed of the increases in hatred and racism in everyday life (or on Social Media)?  Or are you worried that this racial hatred might spill over into real life?

If you answered ‘Yes’ or ‘Abso-f*-lutely’ to any or all of the above, then you need to take action.

Racists have been encouraged by the Referendum in June, and it must continue to be challenged.

Personally, I am ashamed of what our Government has done, and continues to do.

Do you want to do something about it? Well, there is plenty you can do about it.

Take a stroll through my blog, and I’ll endeavour to give you ideas and links to sites you might never have known existed, but which fit your particular grievances with Brexit perfectly.

If you are upset or disturbed by things you see in newspapers or online media, then there are you can do to make a difference.

For starters, you can report posts to Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Facebook can’t get to all of it fast enough, and some of it might be relatively low-level, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it and Twitter in particular has modified its method of reporting troublesome tweets recently and is getting quicker at responding too, so don’t leave it to someone else. If you see something offensive, report it. If it makes you angry enough, report similar tweets fromthe same offending account. Accounts do get suspended, and tweets do get removed. Sometimes the poster can get shamed into removed the post too, so that is always worth a try. I have reported posts via Twitter and Facebook, and it is a relatively painless process.

You’ll find more about Twitter and Facebook elsewhere in my blog, so here’s a little about other actions.

For instance, do you know someone (or have you met someone online) who was a member of the far-right and who how wants to make amends? If so, there is an interesting initiative called ‘Exit UK’ which is a network of former Far Right activists trying to put things right. You can put people in touch with Exit UK directly via their website. Exit UK can be found at .

Write to your MP. If you put your case convincingly enough, then it is quite possible to make a difference by writing to your MP. Anything that can remind politicians to put their duty above their party has to be a good thing. Be polite, do your research on your MPs position and don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. If you don’t know who your MP is, then find out here by typing in your postcode: Who is my MP?

Write to your MEP: Not many people know who their MEP is, and frankly, neither do I yet. I do know that there are several for my region, and that a few at least are UKIP. How and when this happened is a bit of a mystery to me, which goes to show that awareness needs to be improved…so here’s the link containing a ‘clickable’ UK map: Who is my MEP?

So, I’ve just found out that 3 out of 7 Eastern region MEPs are members of UKIP, so I clearly have some letters to write. I will find out more about contacting MEPs, and will blog it here.

There are other actions you can take, for instance: Complaining to IPSO, complaining to the BBC, etc, all of which I will discuss in future blog posts.

In the meantime, get writing to protect your country and your rights as EU citizens!