Monday, 8 June 2009

Twitter- Swanage Coastguard Targeted

Swanage Coastguard was targeted last week by an individual(s) who set up a Twitter account in our name. Twitter is a micro blog site where single line messages are posted on the internet and available for everyone to read.

Sadly over 80 messages were posted, many of a racist and homophobic nature aimed directly at Swanage Lifeboat and the Coastguard Helicopter crews. I will not repeat any of the content but it’s fair to say that we as a team were far from impressed with this situation as it made it appear that Swanage Coastguard were the authors; and by that I mean Ian and myself.

To make matters worse it appears from the very specific comments made that the individual(s) involved had a very good understanding as to how the teams work and therefore the content appeared more credible.

The bottom line was that the author of the Twitter pages was clearly making comments of a defamatory nature (i.e. libel) both towards the HM Coastguard and RNLI; and though impersonation, towards the Swanage Coastguard team. This was a very serious situation compounded by the fact that the comments were of a racist and homophobic nature.

In response we have contacted all our partner agencies including the RNLI to ensure that everyone is aware of the situation. The MCA / HM Coastguard have worked closely with Twitter to have the website removed, which was done at 16:10 Saturday afternoon; details of the IP address, Internet Service Provider and e-mail have been taken/provided with a view to tracking down the author. Meanwhile given the nature of the messages, which are considered tantamount to ‘hate crime’, Dorset Police have been advised and a full copy of the comments forwarded.

The situation has no doubt caused suspicion and was potentially damaging to relationships with other groups. As a team we are particularly disappointed and saddened with the situation and to be ruthlessly honest we are upset that we have been targeted in such a way.

Swanage Coastguard was first advised of the situation by the Bournemouth Echo and we really appreciate their kind assistance in prosecuting this matter.

Despite all that has happened we will continue with the Blog and Website.

To conclude this blog entry an apology of sorts has been offered. The writer states the comments made were ‘inconsiderate but without malice’. It would have been nice to get an unqualified apology without the caveats, excuses, or trying to blame us for reacting, but hey ho there you go. It’s the best we are going to get, so that’s it ….end of ….as they say.


Anonymous said...

as the original author of the spoof tweets, i'm particularly disappointed that nobody contacted me in the first instance to discuss your concerns. what started as a joke between a couple of friends quickly gained a bit of a following - not something i had anticipated. once i saw your own (genuine) twitter posts, and saw that you were upset, i immediately deleted the account as it was never my intent to cause offense. i am confident that i acted properly in this regard.

nevertheless, i do feel that this whole episode represents an epic sense of humour failure somewhere. the entire series of tweets was clearly an exercise in humorous, creative writing, even to the extent of having characterisation and a plot (of sorts). although you yourself clearly did not find it funny, many other perfectly normal adults did. nobody was "targeted". this was not "irresponsible". i rather doubt that anybody reading it took it seriously, and (for instance) went shopping for "green life jackets". the spurious allegations of homophobia and racism show a clear inability to distinguish between reality and fiction: for future reference, what i wrote was an example of the latter.

this whole thing could have been dealt with in a much more (yes) grown-up manner, instead of with the paranoid hysterics demonstrated in the blog post above. you are clearly very upset, and for causing this i sincerely apologise. as you aparrently now do have my contact details, i look forward to hearing from you so that we can perhaps draw this to a conclusion that doesn't demean us both.

Deputy Blog said...

We have an apology of sorts from the individual involved. I say of sorts because it appears that he is sorry for upsetting us, so fair play for recognising that, but explains it was an exercise in creative writing and all a bit of a joke, he says we have had an ‘epic sense of humour failure’ and that the work was fiction.

I think he has missed the point a little. We can cope with parody, absolutely no problem with that, but it stops being creative work or fiction when the comments are attributable to our name – Swanage Coastguard.

And that’s the point, once comments are made in someone else’s name, there is an issue. This becomes a bigger issue when the content is offensive, and whatever he says it was offensive.

As the chap suggests he would like to draw a line under the issue, and we’d welcome that too. So there’s an open invitation to pop up the Coastguard Station to discuss, no shouting from our end, just pop up and talk to us – you might even get a cup of tea.

Training tonight starts at 19:00.

Anonymous said...

hmm. i'd be more impressed if you published the original comments from me and others that are sitting in your moderation queue. thanks for the invitation, but at the moment i am a long, long way from swanage...

i appreciate what you said about my comments being attributable to you - inconsiderate on my part, but without malice. i would've changed it immediately, you only had to ask. was the "nuclear option" really necessary?

Deputy Blog said...

Apology accepted, Thank you.