Bullies hide behind a pseudonym online

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I really have to start this column with a great big thank you to Graham, a very kind man from Lancaster who not only found my mobile phone while out for a bike ride on the canal, but tracked me down and delivered it to my home.

I cannot say how relieved I was by his thoughtfulness. As much as I moan about my phone, losing it would be a nightmare as, like so many people, I have a lot of essential information in it – though luckily I do still use a paper diary. I think I’m in serious need of a holiday as the same day I lost my phone I made some other crazy mistakes too including, I’m very embarrassed to say, going out to deliver training in odd shoes! I had no idea until I took them off again that night.

Jane Binnion

Jane Binnion

It got me thinking that this time of year, when we are tired and often have our minds on our holidays, it’s a time when it’s easy to get careless and make mistakes, on and off line. So, if you’re feeling weary I’d urge you to think carefully about what you post, or even take a break from social media as some mistakes can be costly.

Every year we see people posting that they are at the airport about to go off on a two-week holiday, thus announcing their house is empty for the next two weeks. Before you share information like that, just remember all sorts of people are on social media.

The fracking debate has been the big news on social media locally. Inevitably it’s all been very heated but what became really clear to me is those that are most unpleasant are often those hiding behind a pseudonym.

While it’s all too easy to get carried away in an argument online, there is just something more honest about tweeting in your own name and with a photo of yourself. Far too many individuals hiding behind unknown organisations were just rude plain and bullying.

Alongside the ugly, there was also the good. Preston Police were very positive and informative and thanked the protestors for their peaceful demonstrations. Lancashire County Council’s live webcast of the debate was excellent. Plus their twitter feed kept everyone up to date. And the funny thing was many people were tweeting @Lancsccc which is Lancashire County Cricket Club rather than @LancashireCC which is the County Council. An easy mistake and I confess to having done it myself!

Have a great week and stay safe online