The footballing community was shocked last week, when Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed during a Premier League match against Tottenham at White Heart Lane.
Bolton and Tottenham fans alike watched in horror as it became increasingly clear that Muamba the incident was a serious one. The reaction from the fans, and the wider footballing world was an admirable one. Both sets of fans chanted his name as he was stretchered off, and games held the following day observed a minute applause for the the player who was fighting for his life in intensive care.
However this reaction was not universal. Tweets were sent from the account @liamstacey9 containing number of threatening, hateful, racist, and homophobic slurs against Muamba and people who objected to his language. Such was the vicious nature of his tweets, he was reported to the police by many different people and groups, including the Society of Asian Lawyers.
He was arrested within a day and told he may face a prison sentence. Far from the tough-guy image projected in his tweets, this news reduced the 21 year old to tears.
Many platforms, are pretty poor at self regulation. Everything from inciting racial hatred, to X-rated content from underage people is to be found on twitter. And they are often very reluctant to do anything about it. However a highly engaged, and extremely large, user community has proven itself time and time again to be capable of using the very medium people utilise to abuse, in order to bring people the consequences of that abuse.
So the message of the story is; if you wouldn’t shout it in the street, it’s possible you shouldn’t tweet it either.