Andy Stenning / Daily Mirror
Labour’s Yvette Cooper
I just cannot imagine that Yvette Cooper ’s bid to “reclaim the internet” has a cat’s chance in hell of succeeding. When you’re languishing on the back benches after a five-year tenure as shadow home secretary, you want something high profile to put your name to.
She launched it this week with the support of a number of good and honourable organisations.
A two-month online debate about how best to whitewash the web will culminate in a conference in July, at which ideas will be pulled together along with “calls for action which will drive our action”.
Those are her words, not mine. No, I haven’t a clue what they mean either.
Yvette quotes a Girl Guide Ambassador who rightly states: “A 15-year-old should not have to brush off rape threats.”
Our #reclaimtheinternet panel ready to go with the launch of our campaign taking a stand against online abuse. pic.twitter.com/Jbn6s9TGV9
— ReclaimTheInternet (@InternetReclaim) May 26, 2016
Of course they shouldn’t. But where did we get the idea that human beings are routinely decent?
Some are. Lots are. Maybe even most are, but there are always going to be enough twisted, dumb, ignorant, abusive sewer rats to sour the milk.
The trouble with internet angst is that it is most keenly felt by well-meaning, middle class people who are at a loss to understand why anyone could be so awful.
I can’t fathom it either. I don’t know why rogue carers bully and bait elderly and vulnerable people. I don’t know why a parent would torture and beat a child or why a teenager would kick a puppy to death.
But it happens. And, sadly, I cannot foresee a world in which it doesn’t.
We have laws against murder but it doesn’t stop people killing each other. We have a law against theft but it doesn’t stop crooks nicking stuff.
Girls as young as 15 expected to ‘brush off’ online rape threats, MPs told
Not everyone plays nice in life and not everyone is going to on the net. So enough of the hand-wringing about bad people – they’re not going anywhere.
If we are going to do a bit of shaming, Yvette, let it be the tech companies – Google, Facebook, Twitter et al.
They are making billions while standing back and allowing this tsunami of filth to be peddled under their names.
I am no geek but their protestations that they are powerless to control the trolls are pathetically inadequate.
If Facebook can ban images of breastfeeding mothers and Google can guess where I want to go on holiday, then it is not beyond their capability to stem the flow of filth. What it will require is a sliver of their vast wealth.
Let them come up with the ideas, Yvette, not us poor saps. Let them own the problem.
Yes we can challenge attitudes.
But change needs to come from the top.