By Kevin Keegan
I wanted to discuss a recent issue or more accurately, another casualty due to the current state of social media. Stephen Fry, renowned British actor and comedian, as well twitter user that has garnered over 12 million followers, has quit the social media service after backlash from a comment he made in jest about “close friend,” Jenny Beavan during the BAFTA’s.
The events began with an easily misinterpreted comment that Fry made about Beavan’s choice of clothing when she accepted her BAFTA for Best Costume Design for Mad Max: Fury Road.
“Only one of the great cinematic costume designers would come to the awards dressed like a bag lady,” Fry said.
Fry tweeted a picture of himself with Beavan at a BAFTA after-party. This was apparently too late or not enough as Twitter’s vicious mob mentality had already started to snowball. Many taking sides against Fry and a few, likely privy to Fry and Beavan’s relationship, standing up for the actor.
The result was a blog post on Fry’s website summarizing the reasons for his departure from Twitter.
Personally, I have never been a big fan of twitter. I originally used the social media service when I was helping to promote an online magazine that I was Art Director of. Any tweets in the years after that were to vent about XBOX live service outtages or something else, but almost always to express my disapproval of something. It’s this kind of negative propensity that casts a long and dark shadow behind Twitter as it continues to grow.
Cyberbullying, trolling, and abuse are more prevalent than ever in our technology-driven society. Companies will need to take an active role in finding solutions for this behavior and help mitigate it and guide users in a more positive direction. So what will that look like? An article from BBC.com gives a few tips and ideas:
What can be done to stop trolling?
Make it easier to flag abusive tweets – Twitter has tweaked its system and offers advice to users about how to use it here
Users could ignore the post – the troll’s goal is to get a reaction and some say by responding you are “feeding the troll”
Some have suggested a new system that allows those who are being trolled to choose not to be shown accounts that are less than 30 days old, as a lot of trolling is done from a new account
There are tips here for how people, particularly children, can deal with trolling and cyberbullying in this article.
Fry is not the only celebrity to ditch Twitter. Kanye West, Chris Brown, and Lena Dunham have also quit in past years, but have returned since. Maybe Fry will return as well.