The “You can’t say that” Police

Scotland Yard is spending £1.7 million to set up its Twitter squad, which will have five detectives running it. 
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Sadly, today’s post follows on from a previous one, where the world of a “You can’t say that” grows ever closer.

Imagine a world.  It’s one made of eggshells, people tentatively stepping from place to place, fearful to make eye-contact, to say or do anything that may offend anyone else in fear of bringing down the wrath of the “thought police”.  Worse still, the goal-posts of what could be offensive or indeed interpreted as such are constantly moving.

According to recent reports, this future may not be so far off.

Now I know the words “thought” and “Police” are diametrically opposed, but just for the moment lets say that the two fit together in perfect harmony.

The Metropolitan Police who patrol the capital of UK are turning their eyes to the Internet in order to tackle that global fear and concern of abuse/trolling on social media.  Whilst that in itself will be a relief to a few in the UK who have long feared the evil scourge of name calling on Twitter, the problem as I see it, will come when these “thinkers” or “thought police” are let loose on the Internet.

Now before we consider what the result of having PC Plod armed with a keyboard, lets look at previous Police works in the world of social media.  Well….

The police have taken photographs from their helicopter (without permission) of a celebrity and posted them to Twitter.  They have made jokes about rape.  They are alleged to have investigated a person who tweeted that they wanted to throw an egg at an MP.  They have a joke about theft and its an oft common occurrence to find the most appalling spelling and grammar on these accounts too.  This is something well documented on the Web.

But perhaps this is not the worst part,  not only is it reported that 5 officers will head up this new idea, but its alleged to be looking for a host of volunteers as well as costing the tax payer 1.7m.

Forgetting the implications of what this new “great” idea could mean, I’d suggest in the first instance, using the 1.7million to teach the officers correct grammar and spelling.  We can look at more complex concepts like social media later.  I’ve already seen law enforcement’s inroads into the digital world and I think its fair to say that there is much room for improvement.

This whole scheme sets us on a road to a future where the most common phrase will be “You can’t say that”.

Well I can say that.  I can say what I want and no 2 bit detective armed with a keyboard and a low IQ will tell me otherwise.  I have a far better sense of decency and what is appropriate to say to people than the examples I’ve seen from these police forces online.

And just like my “Happyweb” article before this one, if there are people who want to live in a happy web where only happy thoughts, happy messages and happy things happen, they can go off and make a section of the internet just for them.  I can assure you, everyone else will stay away.  I’d even help them make the Happyweb if they ask.

I stand behind everything I say online and if someone wants to call names, make silly threats or whatever, I am well capable of handling it.  So is, I’d wager the majority of people on the Internet, because if it really becomes a problem, we can block people or just (wait for it……) ignore – anyone who is incapable of that should think very carefully before entering a world of social media, the Happyweb is just a concept.

If this “Thought Police” idea matures from possibly being a tick box exercise on the road to promotion for someone then I want to see their investigations and powers in law extended historically to the forces and individuals who have already displayed the same distasteful behaviour the unit allegedly seeks to tackle.

If there were ever two words that should never be in the same sentence it would be “Thought” and “Police” and if it does come to fruition I can’t wait until they realise that many of the comments they are going to investigate will have a source in a country British Law has no jurisdiction over. – The Internet is more than just the UK.  Maybe someone should inform the CyberPlod.

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