Today brings the news that the infamous Twitter troll Liam Stacey will suffer pretty serious consequences as a result of his deplorable comments on the day that Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba lay stricken on the pitch at White Hart Lane. Having first tweeted "LOL. Fuck Muamba he's dead !!! #Haha", he then got involved in slanging matches with people who reacted angrily. Along the way, his ensuing remarks included "go suck a nigger dick" and "go suck muamba's dead black dick". Such was the level of interest and indignation among the online public that this usually sleepy blog received almost 50,000 hits when first reporting on the Swansea student's horrible antics.
Young Mr. Stacey now has fifty-six days in jail ahead of him, during which he can reflect on the wisdom of sharing one's darker thoughts via a medium with the reach and immediacy of Twitter.
In its short life, this blog has offered readers the opportunity to glimpse into the disordered minds of some particularly aggressive individuals. Liam Stacey is just the most recent and is probably the most widely known. But each of them has gained some degree of infamy.
Very recently, we met Oliver Warren, a young man from Derby. Warren's reaction to the plight of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba was in some ways worse than Liam Stacey's. While Warren is innocent of the kind of racially aggravated public order offence for which Liam Stacey will now do time, his reaction to the angry remonstration of a female tweeter came in the form of a vile threat that was surely in breach of the Communications Act (2003).
Oliver Warren has since deleted the Twitter account from which this threat of genital mutilation was made. But of course he could now very easily be tweeting anonymously. As it stands, there is nothing in the public domain to suggest that he has been apprehended. Unlike Liam Stacey, Oliver Warren does not seem to be of interest to the mainstream media. Bartel Scheers writes at Lemonsblack, a blog that "is exploring and provoking the challenges for the digital world", with a focus "on how technology integrates with traditional life, media, art and culture blurring the line between the virtual and real worlds." In a piece on how some people have brought "crash and burn personal branding" upon themselves on social networks, Scheers notes that Warren has walked away untouched from his own stupidity. To date, unless any readers can offer examples, no other blogger - much less any mainstream media outlet - has paid any attention to Oliver Warren.
Perhaps we can take this to mean that while the media feel there will be public interest in racist slurs about a famous sportsman, a person threatening to stab a young woman in the vagina is a non-story, even if directly connected to the same incident which gained such massive coverage. The local newspapers in Derby have certainly been contacted regarding Mr. Warren. So far, there has been no response from these regional media outlets. But Warren is out there somewhere and even if the authorities and the newspapers decline to chase him down, it is perhaps to be hoped that the next person to whom he applies for a job will take the increasingly common precaution of checking out his digital footprint.