EARLIER this week, we learned that online trolls using the website Paltalk told a 43-year-old father from Cardiff that his life was not worth living and that he should kill himself.
So he did. He set up a webcam. And live on the internet, he hanged himself.
PA:Press Association The dad was taunted by sick trolls
Now, if I was one of his friends I would want to know the names and addresses of those who’d goaded him into doing such a thing.
But that’s the problem. If they were breaking the law, and it’s not certain they were — because being a bastard is not illegal — the police can find out.
The security services can find out. But you and me? We cannot.
Many years ago, my daughter was catfished. I’d never even heard of the word and had no idea how to find the person who was pretending online to be her friend. As a father, I was desperate but powerless.
The suicide was streamed on website PalTalk
Happily though, because she was a child at the time, CEOP — the brilliant child online protection agency — could find out, and did. And it was stopped.
But if you are being bullied and you are not a child and no one is threatening violence or breaking the law, you’re stuffed.
This is the big problem with the internet. Much bigger in my view than porn, or drugs being sold on the dark web, or digital piracy.
It’s the way bullies are allowed to be anonymous.
Reuters Jeremy says he happily criticised Jeremy Corbyn, but does so in an open manner
There is nothing to stop me setting up a fake email address then using it and a silly name to hurl abuse at anyone who comes into my warped crosshairs.
Yes, I can say unkind things here, and I often do about Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott.
But you can see my face at the top of the page and you know my name and it would only take about five minutes to find out where I live.
One online British news website has a comments section where readers can post anonymous comments, and their cruelty beggars belief.
Getty – Contributor Police would rather catch speeding drivers than online trolls
They have said things on there about my children which have made me want to go round to their houses and hit them on the head with a hammer.
But I can’t because I don’t know where their houses are. And I can’t find out.
This has to stop. And there’s no point expecting the police to help because they are way too busy processing motoring fines to even catch a burglar, so they are not going to be bothered if someone has called you “fat”.
Instead, the solution has to be private enterprise.
Because if the security services can find out who sent an email, it’s technically possible — and if it’s technically possible then half of the world’s kids could do it.