How many times have you felt harassed or hated on social media? Social media has shown us that when humans come together with no rules, they bring about a situation similar to the one in William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ and savagery takes the crown.

Poor old Ed Sheeran. The Grammy-award-winning, multimillionaire singer announced this week that he was opting out of much Twitter activity because of the ill-treatment he’s been getting on the medium.

“One comment ruins your day. The headf**k for me has been trying to work out why people dislike me so much,” he told the Sun.

Sheeran thought fans of Lady Gaga might be behind the onslaught of abuse; the BBC suggested it was people who hated his appropriation of Galway Girl.

A Twitter search for “irritating ginger busker” and “Galway Girl” confirms the plausibility of either theory.
“I go on it and there’s nothing but people saying mean things. Twitter’s a platform for that,” he said.

It is tempting to accuse Sheeran of being a tender little snowflake, or to suggest he should toughen up in the face of a bit of slagging – even the occasional “mean thing” coming his way. But the reality is that an ugliness has crept into public discourse; nowhere more so than on social media.

Sheeran is not alone in finding that the platform has become a bewilderingly hostile place. In fact, this is his second time to give up on social media.

Lily Allen briefly left Twitter earlier this year saying “my timeline is full of the most disgusting, sexist, misogynistic, racist shit.”

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Kanye West recently destroyed both his Twitter and Instagram accounts. “It wasn’t a healthy outlet for him,” insiders told US Weekly.

Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley was hunted off Instagram by the gun lobby.

But nothing will change until Twitter and Facebook recognise, as they must, that they are not “just platforms”; they are publishers with a responsibility to police the content they produce.

 

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