Following a brief hiatus from the social networking site, Stan Collymore has come back to Twitter, more determined than ever to remain vigilant in the fight against racism.
The ex-Liverpool and Aston Villa striker was speaking on B/R UK's Google Hangout on Thursday afternoon, discussing his most recent encounters with cyberbullying and other forms of internet abuse alongside Bleacher Report's Will Tidey and Kick It Out campaigner Troy Townsend.
Collymore woke up to a front page headline from the Sun on Thursday morning that dragged up old news on the ex-England striker to mock his fight against Twitter abuse:
Clearly feeling there should be a strong movement against abuse posted on Twitter, Collymore hit back at the Sun for choosing sensationalism over a genuine topic of concern:
Why should the Sun today justify any United Kingdom citizen, regardless of whatever their past is, being abused? Millions of people on Twitter having a debate that Twitter needs to change their rules and regulations. There's one person there standing as a lone voice.
Instead [the Sun] they've given an excuse again to a small minority to abuse me and to say "Stan Collymore abused Ulrika Jonsson 15 years ago, this is all about him. We won't address the issue on Twitter."
Collymore describes the action of the Sunday newspapers as "absolving themselves" of the racist issue that's so clear for all to see, hence his frequent retweeting of those who send offence.
The 43-year-old goes on to say:
The laws of the land state quite clearly that if I get racially abused or someone turns up on my doorstep threatening to murder me, that's illegal. So can we not all agree on that?
There’s a perception on Twitter of who characters and who people are in the newspaper. Wherever I go, and I do 100 games per season, go to Old Trafford, chatting with Manchester United fans, Anfield, Goodison, Birmingham City, Wolves. All of these clubs where you think there may be an issue, never one person in 10 years of broadcasting and God knows how many years as a fan, has come up to me and given me abuse at all.
This is perhaps the most pertinent point to take away from any discussion in relation to what represents punishable behaviour on Twitter. Many culprits say things they would otherwise be found guilty of were they to commit the same crime in real life.
Twitter, and indeed the social media as a whole, has given us a completely fresh mode of communication where anyone can take on the persona of whomever they wish.
Collymore has found that a lot of abusers, hurling racist insults at others, are actually far younger than their language might suggest, saying that "of course Twitter is for quite a young demographic these days."
It brings up the debate as to what sort of restrictions might be employed around the website, as it's clear that some content found on the portal violates the law.
While one might argue that little is being done to resolve the issue—Twitter being at fault by Collymore's count—the issue is now very much in the public eye.
Since the topic came back into the public fore on a previously unprecedented level, Collymore has received countless messages of support for the fight he's spearheading:
@StanCollymore you have a lot of people behind you and supporting you, yes what you did 16 years ago was wrong but its in the past now UTV— Sarah Lucas (@SarahMissyLucas) January 23, 2014
With that being the case, it just shows that there are those willing to unite under the same banner and that more need to speak out as courageously as Collymore if action is to be taken.