Tag Archives: online

Why did ‘celebrity’ Twitter users force suspension of ordinary woman? Because they could

Some of you have been kind enough to notice that This Writer’s @MidWalesMike account has been in the Twitter sin bin since the beginning of the month because somebody didn’t like one of my articles about the court case against Rachel Riley.

That is dangerous enough – it’s clearly an attempt to create a “chilling” effect on my crowdfunding (that, fortunately, has failed – the fund has nearly raised £125,000 since it started nearly two years ago).

But now I read that another Twitter user, who apparently has no public profile at all (she’s not a celebrity or a journalist/blogger or a member of the commentatorati), has found her account suspended, simply for expressing her dislike of an actress.

The actress in question was Tracy-Ann Oberman, who apparently searches the social media platform for any adverse comment about her. Spotting this one, it seems she claimed that the lady in question had to be an anti-Semite, even though no part of the view she expressed in her tweet conveyed any such sentiment. See for yourself:

“It’s a sin was doing so well then I saw Tracy Ann Oberman left a bad taste in my mouth … trying to quickly forget I’ve seen her.”

“Caroline do you think that YOU may be one of those intolerant bigots that Russell is talking about in #itsasin

“Seems you’ve missed the entire point of the series. You and the rest of this thread. Oh dear. @cst @UKLabour @LabourAgainstAS”

The @ tags at the end of Oberman’s tweet are significant. She was tagging in the Community Security Trust and Labour Against Anti-Semitism – both highly vocal self-proclaimed crusaders against anti-Semitism (although both could equally well be described as witch-hunters against people targeted with false claims) along with the Labour Party, because ‘Caroline’ could be seen holding a Labour membership card in her profile picture.

The implication is clear: Oberman wanted to brand ‘Caroline’ an anti-Semite and she wanted to bring Labour’s attention to it. In order to provoke disciplinary action, perhaps? Because this person had expressed an opinion about her appearance in a TV show. Overkill?

No. Overkill is what followed. Oberman’s tweet led to a dogpile so vile that even some of its participants later withdrew their comments and apologised.

I won’t go into the details but you can read about it on Zelo Street if you like.

Then – apparently after pressure from the usual cohort of “blue tick” celebrities – ‘Caroline’ had her Twitter account suspended.

I repeat that she had not expressed a single opinion that was not well within her right. If she doesn’t like Tracy-Ann Oberman, it is not for Tracy-Ann Oberman to take offence and have her hounded off of Twitter. For all Tracy-Ann Oberman knew, ‘Caroline’ had perfectly good reasons for disliking her.

Those reasons don’t have to be restricted to her acting, either. I refer to her “clitoris” comment in response to David Quantick, and her (clearly racist, in my opinion) “Is Ping Pong the Thai help?” query in response to a tweet from Liz Hurley that her parrot had spoken in human language for the first time.

Nevertheless, Tracy-Ann Oberman reacted the way she did, and now an innocent member of the public has been hounded off of Twitter.

You may be wondering why Tracy-Ann Oberman feels justified in having acted as she did. I’ll tell you the answer:

Because there is a court ruling that says she cannot be held to account for it.

It’s the ruling of Mrs Justice Collins Rice in the case brought by Oberman’s friend Rachel Riley against This Writer.

Riley’s legal team had put forward an argument that she could not possibly be held responsible for the behaviour of her followers, who abused and harassed a teenage girl with mental health problems who had had the temerity to criticise her for accusing Owen Jones (and Jeremy Corbyn) of anti-Semitism.

Riley had tagged celebrities, politicians and so-called activists against anti-Semitism into her tweets responding to the girl, who had received many hundreds of responses critical of her as a result – forcing her to quit Twitter several times for the sake of her mental health.

But the judge agreed that Riley was not responsible. Her ruling means nobody else can be, either.

And this is the result.

It is hugely damaging – not only for the safety of people like ‘Caroline’, but for everybody’s Article 10 right to Freedom of Expression according to the Human Rights Act (she was hounded off the platform for expressing an opinion about an actress, remember).

It also contradicts the intentions of Online Harms legislation that is due to pass through Parliament soon. Part of the proposed law would make participation in online dogpiles a criminal offence with serious penalties attached.

As everybody should be aware by now, I have appealed against Mrs Justice Collins Rice’s ruling.

I hope that judges at the Court of Appeal agree that it has created the opportunity for significant harm – and has already caused such harm in the case of ‘Caroline’.

If so, then we may also hope that the ruling is rescinded and the Obermans of this world lose their legal protection.

My case is still going on, I am still crowdfunding to pay its costs, and you are invited to contribute in the time-honoured ways:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

If you haven’t donated before, perhaps this story will encourage you.

After all, they might come for you next.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Would Rachel Riley have been charged under incoming internet anti-bullying law?

Westminster: Parliament is to consider a new anti-bullying law under which Rachel Riley and her followers may well have been prosecuted. Instead, she has accused me of libel.

This information arrives too late to be included in my bid to beat Rachel Riley’s attempt to strike out my libel defence – but we can hope that the judge has seen it and knows it is coming.

According to the Telegraph, the Tory government’s new “Online Harms” law will include measures to imprison online bullies for a maximum of two years.

It states: “Online bullies and those who join internet ‘pile-ons’ could face up to two years in jail under a raft of seven new criminal ‘duty of care’ offences.

“Ministers are working with the Law Commission to create criminal offences that would allow police to prosecute people responsible for online communications that caused a victim ‘serious emotional distress’.

“It would cover emails, social media posts and WhatsApp messages and also pile-on harassment when a number of different individuals send threatening communications to a victim.

“Other offences being considered include incitement or encouragement of pile-on harassment, knowing participation in pile-on harassment and glorification of violence or of violent crime.”

Rachel Riley’s accusation of libel against me is based on her claim that she did not incite or encourage people who follow her Twitter account to dogpile (that’s the correct term for what the Telegraph describes as a “pile-on”) a vulnerable teenager.

The girl who received this unwanted attention suffers from anxiety issues and endured extreme distress as a result.

I wonder whether Riley would be able to escape prison if this law had been in effect in December 2018, when she started picking on that young lady?

As it is, I am still awaiting a judgment on her wafer-thin argument that my defence against her libel claim should be thrown out.

It is nearly a month since the hearing but my solicitor tells me that such delays are not unusual. It is possible that we will have our result on or after January 11, when the High Court’s Christmas vacation ends.

Whatever happens, I will need to fund my defence – and I desperately need help:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

It seems clear that Riley could have been tried for a criminal offence if this planned law had been enacted a few years ago.

The fact that she is prosecuting me for pointing out her outrageous behaviour therefore seems even more of an atrocity.

But she is the darling of the media and she is extremely rich – and I am not. And money talks.

Please help me make sure she cannot buy justice – and make a mockery of a new law to protect the vulnerable before it has even had a chance to take effect.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Hodge wants ban on social media anonymity – what a great idea! It will curtail fake anti-Semitism claims

It’s the first time This Writer has agreed with Margaret Hodge in years.

She has said the government must ban online anonymity or make social media directors personally liable for defamatory posts, revealing that she receives tens of thousands of abusive tweets a month:

Hodge accused the government of deliberately delaying the online harms bill in order to avoid difficult conversations with powerful social media companies, and said she was prepared to take up a campaign to make sure the law was tough enough.

The Online Harms Bill arises from a White Paper produced last year – and This Site commented on it at the time.

The White Paper – and now the Bill (I expect; I haven’t actually seen any information on it since April last year) proposed a statutory duty of care, to be conferred on media companies including platforms such as Facebook and Google, online messaging services like WhatsApp and file hosting sites.

They would be required to comply with a code of practice, setting out the steps they must take to meet the duty of care. This may include designing products and platforms to make them safer, directing users who have suffered harm towards support, combating disinformation (for example by using fact-checking services), and improving the transparency of political advertising.

They would be expected to co-operate with police and other enforcement agencies on illegalities including incitement of violence and selling illegal weapons.

And they would have to compile annual “transparency reports” detailing the amount of harmful content found on their platforms and what they are doing to combat it.

The government would have powers to direct the regulator – initially Ofcom, with a dedicated regulator to follow in the future – on specific issues such as terrorist activity or child sexual exploitation.

I pointed out last year that the White Paper did not include any measures to stop people creating anonymous accounts.

If Ms Hodge wants to see that happen now, then I am all for it.

It will stop me receiving much (but not all) of the abuse I get from people wrongly accusing me of anti-Semitism after the Labour Party expelled me under false pretences (as shown in court).

But that’s not what was on offer in April last year. As I made perfectly clear, “regulating online media platforms will not stop people posting “harmful” content to them, if there is nothing to stop them from doing so. It is farcically easy to create anonymous accounts, from which to post objectionable and/or abusive content.

“Shut one down? That’s fine – the individual responsible can have another up and running in a matter of minutes, if they don’t have multiple aliases working already.”

And I made that point that “it has been argued that people must have a right to be able to post anonymously, because of personal circumstances that make it important – possibly for their personal safety.”

My response: “Fine. A system can be devised in which people apply for anonymity and the number of people or organisations able to ascertain their real identity is strictly limited. That would allow these individuals to continue functioning in the online world. And it would prevent others from abusing social media platforms. Any posts from an unrecognised anonymous account would be easy to flag up and isolate.”

If Ms Hodge is proposing such a system then I am behind her every step of the way, and never mind all the other differences we have.

Although – as a staunch witch-hunter herself – I wonder whether she would approve of that outcome.

Source: Margaret Hodge calls for ban on social media anonymity | Online abuse | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Online rally to defend Corbyn against Starmer suspension: TONIGHT (October 30) 7pm

This is from that much-maligned organisation, Momentum – who at least seem to be doing something to protect Labour Party democracy:

“This is a pivotal moment for the Labour Party and the future of our movement. The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn yesterday was a factional attack that has undermined the fight against antisemitism.

“Join leading socialists from across our movement in an online rally at 7pm tonight and hear how we defend Corbyn, and build a socialist, anti-racist movement.

“Click here to join the online rally at 7pm. 

Speakers include Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Jon Trickett, Roger McKenzie, Howard Beckett, Rivkah Brown, Barnaby Raine, Jess Barnard, Chardine Taylor Stone, Sonali Bhattacharyya and Deborah Hermanns.

“There are no quick fixes, but there are many things we can do to build a movement and shape the future of our party.

“That’s what Jeremy will be doing and that’s what we must do.”

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Was online appeal system just another way to delay payment of disability benefits?

Tribunal: before anyone comments, I know that UK courts don’t use the gavel. This is for illustrative purposes.

A bid to decide some appeals against refusal of Personal Independence Payment benefit applications online has been closed down by HM Courts and Tribunals service.

The intention was to give claimants and the Department for Work and Pensions an idea of the verdict they were likely to get at appeal. If both agreed with it, then the appeal was completed. If not, then the matter went on to a normal appeal hearing.

You can probably see the problem with this.

For many, it would cause another delay before they had a chance of seeing any cash – and we all know that the DWP already puts far too many hurdles in the way of people with disabilities.

This seems to be borne out by the disappointing take-up. The process – known as COR (Continuous Online Resolution) was originally set for trial with 1,000 appellants in the Midlands, Sutton and North-West Tribunal Panel area.

But only 254 claimants accepted the invitation to join the pilot and, of these, only 145 cases were considered suitable.

Ultimately, 69 cases were resolved by an online panel and all but one of these increased the DWP’s award.

According to Benefits and Work, claimants involved in the pilot had mixed feelings:

Those who got a decision they were happy with from the online panel were positive about the experience. Those who had to go through the online process and then on to a normal appeal were frustrated and disappointed.

Some appellants said they accepted a preliminary decision that they were not happy with simply because “they felt they had waited long enough already and did not want a further delay caused by waiting for a face-to-face hearing.”

This fits the thesis that the scheme delayed justice rather than helping it.

And it seems it was even a burden to HMCTS, which stated: “A substantial admin resource was required to support COR in selecting, sifting and onboarding cases, as well as carrying out time-consuming tasks which were not automated by the COR system.

“This therefore had resource implications for any scaling up of the pilot on a national basis, particularly given the low levels of suitable cases.”

HMCTS said it will continue to look for ways to carry out appeals online.

Let us hope the next attempt will speed matters, rather than worsening delays.

Source: Online appeal system scrapped before it begins

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Sunak’s online sales tax really is just another way to attack people with disabilities

Rishi Sunak: he keeps interfering with the market, despite his party’s claim that it’s better to leave it alone. Is it because Tories love to torture people with disabilities?

Rishi Sunak isn’t making any sense at all.

He says his plan for an online sales tax is intended to push people back onto the High Street, to physically go out and buy products in order to save businesses that are in danger after the lockdown forced us to stay indoors.

We’ve been buying products online while Covid-19 remains a threat.

And we’ll go back to the High Street, but only once we are convinced the danger is over.

So if High Street shops are in danger, it’ll be because we can’t trust Sunak and his fellow Tories on when that’s likely to be.

Not only that, but in considering such a tax, Sunak is saying the UK is hostile to the new commerce that the Internet represents – as net-based firms still pay business rates and all the other taxes associated with sales.

That’s not good for any country’s economy in this day and age.

It simply doesn’t make sense.

But, considering the Conservatives’ well-known passion for cruelty, there is one reason for bringing in an online sales tax that does make sense: they’ve found out it’s another way they can attack people with disabilities.

People whose health conditions mean they can’t get out of the house have to use the Net to get their stuff, and many shops don’t have access for people with disabilities anyway – despite disability access laws having been enacted many years ago.

People with disabilities don’t have much cash to enjoy, either. They’re either on benefits or in low-waged employment.

So the logical reason for imposing an online sales tax is to push disabled people further into poverty – or to deprive them of goods that they should have the same opportunity to enjoy as the rest of us.

Tories have form in this regard; “Eat out to help out” was another attack on people with disabilities, as you can’t benefit from a discount on restaurant meals if you can’t actually leave home.

Underlying it all is yet another big lie:

Tories have supported, on the face of it, neoliberal ideology since Margaret Thatcher became their leader in the mid-1970s – and that means they support a laissez-faire attitude to the market.

This means they believe the market will automatically adjust to prevailing conditions in order to keep going.

So the proper government policy is non-interference.

Yet here they are, interfering.

Source: Rishi Sunak’s planned online sales tax is a tax on disability | Disability | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Covid-19: Tories admit their own incompetence as ‘test and trace’ app is unlawful

Matt Hancock: he was a Covid-19 super-spreader so it should be no surprise that his employees on the ‘track and trace’ programme have been publicising patients’ confidential information. It is a criminal offence and he should be punished by a judge. What do you think will happen?

Isn’t this criminal stupidity?

The Tories have been telling us their ‘test and trace’ app for finding people who’ve had Covid-19, in order to isolate those they’ve contacted, is vital to prevent the spread of the disease – and therefore stop unnecessary deaths.

But now we learn that it breaches privacy laws, with Sky News reporting that the programme’s staff have been sharing private information about patients on the social media.

What a Hobson’s Choice we’ve had – refuse to use the app and Tory twits like Matt Hancock accuse us of betraying the campaign against the virus; but if we do use it, our intimate personal information goes public!

It turns out that critics of the scheme, the Open Rights Group, were right and the government did not conduct a data privacy impact assessment (DPIA) which is required to ensure that breaches of patients’ information don’t take place.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said there was “no evidence of data being used unlawfully” – and then clammed up when asked if a Sunday Times report that this is exactly what has happened was accurate.

The Open Rights Group reckons it has already seen evidence of confidential track and trace information being shared on social media – and This Writer is certainly more inclined to believe that organisation than a government that has built up a record of relentless incompetence.

Can anybody tell me a single thing the Tories have got right since December 13, 2019?

Of course, breach of Data Protection laws is a criminal offence and the person directly responsible for this one will be the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, one Matt Hancock.

How lucky he must feel, knowing that as a Tory minister he is above the law and the police wouldn’t touch him even if he committee murder on television.

Source: Coronavirus: Government admits its Test and Trace programme is unlawful | Science & Tech News | Sky News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

No clever message from This Writer here – I just think this is something worth celebrating:

A community volunteer scheme, which had to be stopped at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now thriving online, with the organiser encouraging more people to come forward to meet growing demand, as many disabled people continue to have to stay indoors.

‘Sense Buddying’, run by the national disability charity Sense, matches a young disabled person with a volunteer to spend time in the local community doing activities.

With one in two (53%) disabled people experiencing loneliness, rising to three quarters (77%) of young disabled people, the scheme has been praised for its role in tackling social isolation in society, by bringing disabled and non-disabled people together.

The scheme, which operates in the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney and Redbridge, moved to video-chat during the pandemic, with volunteers asked to meet their buddies online rather than in person.

Over 70 buddies currently meet regularly online and will continue to do so as the country comes out of the lockdown, with many of the young people experiencing underlying health conditions.

The charity now hopes that the move online will encourage more people to volunteer to become a buddy and help meet the growing need of families.

Pretty good! How about a national roll-out?

Source: Volunteer scheme that tackles loneliness amongst young disabled people thrives online during pandemic | Charity Today News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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People with mental illnesses and disabilities may be falling foul of video court hearings

Court: moving hearings to audio/video because of the coronavirus has made them useless for some people, due to their disabilities. (How many of your are going to criticise me over the fact that UK courts don’t use the gavel?)

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has called for the government to collect information on the effect of video court hearings on people with mental illnesses and other conditions.

It is feared that people with conditions including learning disability, autism spectrum disorders and mental health conditions – who are significantly over-represented in the criminal justic system – are at a disadvantage when cases are conducted without them being present in court.

The Ministry of Justice has switched magistrates’ hearings to video sessions in response to the coronavirus lockdown, with 85 per cent of cases heard in England and Wales this month carried out using audio and video technology.

Defendants have complained that they did not have enough time to discuss their cases with lawyers, and that they could not hear or understand what was going on during their hearing.

The EHRC has said that everyone should be equal before the law, and this means nobody defending themselves before a court should be at a disadvantage because they are disabled.

Will the government pay attention? It seems unlikely.

Tories have victimised people with disabilities since the moment they got back into office in 2010 – imposing harsh restrictions on who could receive state benefits, and demonising people claiming those benefits as shirkers and scroungers.

They have already made it hard for people to take a benefit case through to a legal tribunal; but the majority of cases that then succeed suggest that it is only logical that they would want to make it harder for a disabled person to achieve a victory, in any court situation.

Perhaps my opinion is over-judgemental.

So we shall have to judge the government by what it does.

If we never hear about this issue again, we’ll have our answer – and it won’t be good.

Source: Court hearings via video ‘risk unfairness for disabled people’ | UK news | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Online documentary lays bare how the NHS has been prepared for privatisation

People are saying great things about a new documentary about the National Health Service, which is available for viewing online.

The Great NHS Heist is a film by Dr Bob Gill that professes to detail how the UK has been robbed of its most precious possession.

According to the film’s publicity:

“The British National Health Service is the nation’s proudest achievement, lifting the burden from the sick, and copied across the world,

“But it has been under sustained attack over decades by successive governments.

“Realising that privatisation would be unpopular, the Thatcher Government instead started a programme of outsourcing that was continued and expanded under the Blair New Labour Government and up to the present.

“It required careful planning and a series of legal and structural changes spanning 30 years to bring it to the brink of American corporate capture; or, as one former policy adviser put it, reduced to “a funding stream and a logo”.

“A docile and complicit media have failed to hold power to account and inform the public about what is really happening to their NHS.

“Austerity and chaos over Brexit has provided perfect cover for the engineered failure of services, necessary to persuade the public to fall out of love with the NHS.

“NHS land, patient data and tax-funded budgets are all up for grabs.

“How did we get here? This film reveals The Great NHS Heist.”

Well, we already knew about the engineered failure of services being designed to convince the public that a private service is better – we have Noam Chomsky to thank for that:

Here’s the trailer:

And you can see the film here: http://movie.thegreatnhsheist.com/

(Rent for £1.94; buy it for £6.99.)

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook