TROLLSFirst let me make my position crystal clear:
No one should feel it is their right to ridicule, insult, harass or make untrue or unprovable accusations about anyone, either on the internet, in newspapers on TV/radio or anywhere else. Freedom of speech is a right that carries with it responsibilities. No one should abuse this right.
There is absolutely no doubt that, for want of a better phrase, "internet trolls" comment on the McCann case. These people "infect" social media & the internet in general with inappropriate and occasionally highly offensive material. Trolls on both sides of the debate engage in these tactics. Anyone reading #mccann on twitter can quickly see the daily attempts by trolls on both sides to provoke, insult and attack the other.
Trolls who claim to support the McCann's clearly attempt to provoke more and more outrageous comments from their opponents. Once they succeed they then re-post these comments in a forlorn attempt to claim the moral high ground. These McCann supporting trolls also cherry pick items from the evidence and claim it "proves" their point while at the same time ignoring evidence that suggests the opposite. They insult anyone who questions their opinion, sometimes disgracefully invoking mental health issues. They present strawman arguments (effectively lying) in an effort to discredit their opponents position. They are rude, intolerant, aggressive and spiteful. Most claim to do this to support the McCann family, but how can their actions do anything of the sort? Pouring petrol on a fire doesn't put it out. If the McCann's are aware of their actions, it is hard to imagine they are not, they must surely be appalled by what they see.
Trolls, some of whom claim to support Madeleine, by claim that the evidence proves her parents are guilty of some crime (anything from negligence to murder) are equally shameful. For example there are large numbers of photoshopped images circulating. Some are obviously photoshopped and meant in jest (albeit often in very poor taste), but others are circulated as if they are genuine and can create an entirely false impression. Cherry picked items of evidence, often inaccurately quoted, are posted along with claims that this proves the McCann's guilt. Suggestions that there may be innocent explanations for these are ignored or ridiculed. They frequently accuse the McCann parents of various criminal acts, none of which can be proved & occasionally one will make an outrageous threat to harm the McCann family in some way. To claim that these actions are in any way supporting a missing child is ridiculous and offensive.
Facebook groups, Blogs and forums are similarly infected by these trolls. In my opinion none of the trolls has a genuine interest in any of the following:
1. Finding out what happened to Madeleine McCann.
2. Supporting the McCann family over the loss of their daughter.
3. Finding Madeleine.
So I make this appeal to the trolls on both sides. STOP! If you write a tweet or post which only has as it's only purpose insulting, provoking or accusing someone else don't post it.
If you want to why not START, engaging in a proper discussion and analysis of the evidence. Accept your own shortcomings & the shortcomings of others and try to improve the overall level of understanding about this case and perhaps others. DON'T be taken in by propaganda from either side. READ the PJfiles http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/ & RESEARCH other relevant information, such as interviews, press articles and background information using all means available to you.
Above all KEEP AN OPEN MIND & be receptive to different opinions and ideas.
Finally, NEVER forget that at the heart of this case is a missing girl who was almost 4 years old when she vanished & would be 11 now. She is more important than your petty point scoring and childish insults and games. Her disappearance remains an as yet unsolved mystery. At the time of publishing this blog anyone who claims different is a liar.
Not everyone who comments on the McCann case online is a troll. There are people, who do seem to have a genuine interest in The McCann case. They fall into several categories
1. Those with a genuine interest in finding out what happened to Madeleine.
Some think the balance of evidence supports the abduction hypothesis, some think that it supports anything but the abduction hypothesis, some are genuinely undecided, but all seem to share a genuine interest in the mystery and choose to spend their leisure time discussing the evidence and various hypotheses to explain Madeleine's disappearance.
2. Those who campaign for missing people & children.
Usually these people believe that Madeleine was abducted, or take the view that it is better to believe this unless it is proven otherwise.
3. Those who are concerned about paedophilia and government cover-ups in the UK & who think the McCann case is an example of one or both.
Often referred to as "conspiraloons" such people are very important in a democracy. Usually they are completely mis-guided, but every now and again they shed light on something that really needs to be uncovered. Unfortunately they can be over zealous in their words and actions which gives more fuel for the McCann supporter trolls to throw on the flames.
4. Those with a casual interest in the case.