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Editors call for end to racial abuse in website comments

Posted on: June 11, 2020 by Ian Murray

The StokeonTrentLive news website has appealed to readers to help stamp out insulting racial and abusive comments placed on its articles.

In a joint plea, Martin Tideswell, Editor-in-Chief and Mary-ann Astle, Executive Editor (Digital), round on readers who ignore the site’s rules aimed at avoiding insulting comments.

In blunt speaking, the pair tell those wishing to use racial or abusive language they are not wanted and will not be tolerated. And the editors have asked readers to help by highlighting comments they find to be abusive so staff can consider them for removal.

“Here at StokeonTrentLive we welcome debate and diverse opinions – but when it strays into abuse, threats and trolling then it’s a different matter.

“Quite frankly, if you want to abuse people, publicly shame others, have a pop at anyone because of their ethnicity, skin colour or gender – then you’re not wanted here.,” reads the appeal. 

“There’s a problem in general when it comes to people having their say online – it’s all gone a bit too Wild West.

“Here at StokeonTrentLive we delete comments and ban users and followers – but frankly it’s a never-ending task.”

The editors provide insight into the kind of abusive comments that they work hard to ensure never see the light of day.

“In the last few days, we’ve banned people for (among other things):

  • Describing members of an ethnic minority community as ‘vermin’;
  • Making lewd sexual comments about a woman pictured in a story;
  • Stating that a victim of a sexual assault might have ‘deserved it’;
  • Calling a person featured in a story a ‘typical disabled Sentinel scumbag.’

That’s four examples out of hundreds we could mention – including our journalists being referred to as ‘scum’, ‘Nazis’, ‘paedophiles’ and ‘leftie parasites’.”

The editors go on to remind readers of the site’s conditions for commenting, adding:

“We receive thousands and thousands of comments – literally.

“It is not possible for us to read them all – especially as many of the comments on a particular post or thread are made days or even weeks after an article has been shared.

“So this is where we need your help. We need you to tell us when someone crosses the line – so we can take action.

“On a number of occasions we have asked for people to be respectful of other readers – and our staff. We’ve asked for people not to use foul language or to abuse or threaten people.

“Abuse and racism will not be tolerated. Hate speech is not free speech.”

 

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