I’m sure that many of you will have read recently about the Official Gary Glitter twitter account. For those of you who haven’t a “social experiment” was conducted by a private individual who was unwilling to divulge his/her identity. The experiment consisted of this person opening a Twitter account in the name of Gary Glitter and using it to highlight the dangers of the internet to children. The tumblr explanation is available here. I have several problems with this so-called “experiment”.

  1. It has been reported by other Twitter users, that when the account started there were several obviously jokey tweets from it which were later deleted. This calls into question if the user was originally intending to conduct the “experiment” or if they used it to cover themselves after the inevitable backlash.
  2. The user continues to remain anonymous, which means that they are not willing to be open about or questioned on their “experiment”. Plus in my own humble opinion remaining anonymous while lecturing others on morality is the act of a coward.
  3. The experiment was apparently constructed to highlight the dangers of social networking to parents. If this was in fact the original intent it is laudable although misguided. The internet can be a dangerous place for children. The user then calls for legislation to be enacted to ban all people on the Sex Offenders Register from using digital communications unsupervised. That’s all 29000 people on the Sex Offenders Register. A clearly unenforceable, highly expensive and ludicrous law, which would require vast armies of Social Workers or Police to watch every sex offender round the clock to make sure they didn’t access a computer or phone which can connect to the World Wide Web.
  4. The user criticises several papers for “promoting” Glitter, while obviously oblivious to his own part in promoting the same man and creating an internet furore around him. Although I have not read all the articles that the user refers to I did at least check out the NME one. You don’t need a degree in semiotic analysis to see that it is written in a very neutral tone and is basic factual reporting rather than promotion.

What the man or woman who conducted this “experiment” did highlight was the disgusting jokes made by some people about Mr Glitters crimes. I strongly dislike rape jokes, no matter if they are about children or adults. There are very good reasons to not make or condone them. Mainly that people who rape assume that rape is normal. Every time you make or laugh at a rape joke you are confirming to rapists that their crime is normal, ok, that all men rape, etc. This in my book, is not ok. However I leave it up to you to consider this issue and if you wish to unfollow on twitter anyone who jokes about this serious crime.

Other than that the Glitter Twitter account is a troubling story, which does little to highlight the dangers to children on the internet, less to help children to stay safe, and even less for the children who have already been victims.