If MPs want to do something to stop online abuse and harassment (May calls inquiry into abuse of politicians, 13 July), there’s one simple step they can take: they could repeal the laws that protect online publishers from liability for comments hosted on their websites. If Twitter, Facebook and other companies could be sued for hosting defamatory content the way an offline publisher can be, they would have to crack down on abusive behaviour very quickly. There is one obvious problem with this plan, which is that it would contradict the EU’s electronic commerce directive. Fortunately, after March 2019, this problem will no longer apply.
Richmond upon Thames, Surrey
• The PM claims to be horrified by the levels of abuse directed at MPs during the recent general election campaign. And, yes, the behaviour of a small minority on all sides of the political debate is horrific. But let’s not be naive. Theresa May belongs to a party whose senior members have lied in public: the £350m for the NHS being the most obvious example. She herself vilified Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign in directly personal terms, while members of Momentum have long since lost count of the accusations of “Trots and entryists”. And finally, every Wednesday, we are treated to levels of infantile behaviour at PMQs that would shame any semi-sentient adult. What we need now is emotionally literate politics where adult individuals find the best, not the worst, in themselves.
If Theresa May wants to leave a legacy of anything other than utter incompetence, she might consider cleaning up the behaviour of those she claims to lead and setting an example of genuine emotional intelligence worthy of the times in which we live.
• It is to be hoped that the report the prime minister has asked the committee on standards to prepare will widen its scope to consider the nature of press coverage. The Mail on Sunday once ran an article by sometime Labour member Dan Hodges under the headline “Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza”, illustrated by a graphic of Corbyn in a coffin. This was just 10 days after the murder of Jo Cox. You can bet that anyone tweeting, say, “Labour MUST kill harpy Jess” would have been promptly expelled from the party and excoriated in the Mail. Someone at the paper must have belatedly thought better of it, because the online version changed the word “kill” to “dump”. The press whips up hatred and personal abuse far more influentially than lone tweeters and graffitists.
W Stephen Gilbert
• Agree totally with Gina Miller’s eloquent article on hate-filled abuse (Report, 12 July). But do her valid concerns extend to similar hate-filled abuse and threats of violence to which, for example, Nigel Farage has been subject for the last 10 years or more? Just asking.
Ukip deputy chair and MEP for the south-west and Gibraltar
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