99 Problems

To paraphrase the lyrics of a famous feminist’s most famous song, Yvette Cooper’s Reclaim the Internet Campaign has 99 problems but this bloke ain’t one.

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Many of these problems have been highlighted on the ‘crowd sourcing ideas platform’ section of Reclaim’s own website.

Problems like political bias, feminist dogpiling, gendered language and an often voiced concern that the people behind the campaign don’t want to reclaim the internet, they just want to claim it.

Their choice of allies has been called into question, although to date surprising little mention about the wisdom of inviting mumsnet to act as a champion for safe spaces on the internet.

Meanwhile one of their most high profile advocates doesn’t even appear to know how to use the internet, let alone care to share ideas about how to ‘reclaim’ it.

Some of their most vocal participants felt their conversation with the nation had a problem with trolls, one of the admins acknowledged that ‘sealioning’ might be an actual thing that actually needed addressing, while others just said it as they saw it and complained that there were too many men participating.

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Having considered some of the quite remarkable claims of some of the high profile ‘abuse victims’ that Yvette Copper has opted to highlight in her campaign to date, EYEthink the campaign has a major credibility problem and that it appears to be about advocating for excuses and political leverage to silence certain types of voices as much as it is about championing the rights of ‘minorities’ like women.

After all in the same week that an English police force are actively investigating allegations of malicious communications after a 15 year old school girl was bombarded with abuse and an entire parliament of women claimed they had experienced sexual harassment inside the chamber  Yvette opted to instead focus on a very peculiar example of abuse indeed.

Which is why EYEwanted to ask campaign participants if exaggerated claims about online internet abuse ultimately harm genuine victims and scare people off social media?

Unsurprisingly the question went down like a lead balloon and, once the moderation team had a chance to discuss it, a representative notified me that their answer was that they had interpreted my question to be ‘about  posts about political correctness and the number of women/men who are (or aren’t) feminists’ and therefore not really relevant to the discourse and ‘off topic‘.

Refreshingly at least two respondents did manage to successfully interpret my question to mean ‘do exaggerated claims about online internet abuse ultimately harm genuine victims and scare people off social media?’ and both ‘on topic’ replies were ‘definitely yes’.

One even offered an interesting perspective on the political benefits for people like Yvette Cooper who were proposing that Jeremy Corbyn’s camp had recently participated in a ‘sexist witchunt’ of a BBC corespondent.

 ‘Yes, you are absolutely correct – many of the people leading the charge for restricting behaviour they don’t like are often guilty of (or at least associated with) some rather questionable behaviour themselves.

And then on the same day that Jess Phillips was telling the readers of the Daily Telegraph that she had received over a thousand rape threats on twitter, the admin team concocted an excuse to shut down the conversation and lock my discussion thread.

And while my voice was predictably being silenced Yvette Cooper was ignoring lots of opinions voiced by a cross section of her twitter followers, which only goes to show that this campaign has no interest in listening to certain types of voices, no matter how valid their point may be.

They might as well put a sign on the door saying no blokes or Irish because it really is that subtle.

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Recl@im the Internet have 99 problems and this Bloke ain’t one.

And despite the sort of publicity that money can’t buy, not to mention the quite shocking headlines that followed the launch, when you subtract the various moderators and admins from the list of participants, the awkward fact is that less than 99 people have bothered to join their ‘conversation with the nation’ and a lot of those voices will be entirely ignored.

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Next | Labour’s Crybully Meltdown

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