Nicola James speaks out about her dreadful experience of being bullied and harassed on Twitter.
First published in July 2020.
On 19 May I was approached by someone I know, who had been the victim of doxxing. They were aware that I have also been the target of online bullying and asked if they could put me in touch with someone looking into it.
I said yes.
Doxxing is when someone acquires sensitive personal data about you, then threatens to publish it online unless you pay a fee.
// Source: Avast
The person who contacted me, a day later, put me in touch with the person tasked with investigating a group of online bullies. I gave this person my evidence. I was completely candid about everything that I knew.
What followed were about 5½ weeks of indescribable stress. At one point I was so anxious that I self-harmed, something I have not done for years.
The people being investigated have spent the last few weeks attacking all those involved, and some who have nothing to do with this, on an hourly basis. I have literally lost count of how many times I have been threatened and falsely accused.
Now I can finally say: It is NOT a crime to speak out against bullying. Slander and libel do not apply if what you are saying is true.
The last few weeks have been utterly atrocious. At times I have felt as if I have been watching as my life and reputation were being destroyed. Doing the right thing has cost me friendships. I have never felt more isolated and, frankly, scared in my life. Despite everything, I don’t regret doing the right thing.
I won’t speculate here about why I was targeted, but I will say that we, as a group, need to take this sort of behaviour more seriously. The onus should never be on the victim to change their behaviour and I can categorically say that there is no “just ignore” about it.
The almost two years I have gone through this has left its mark. It has cost me mentally, emotionally and even financially. It affected my confidence and has led me to be suspicious of following people back or every unsolicited direct message.
I have met countless good people through campaigning and Twitter, but I have watched helplessly as these bullies hid behind a hashtag that no one is ever allowed to criticise. I am sure that without that hashtag, this may have been stopped sooner.
The urgency to belong to a group meant that criticising the identifying hashtag was akin to treason. Those misusing it were not called out by their fellow hashtaggers. That left those of us under attack from ‘fellow remainers’ exposed, isolated, and vulnerable.
As I heard recently, “If you have a barrel of a thousand apples and one is rotten, unless you act swiftly, you’ll have a barrel of a thousand rotten apples.”
Authorities have taken formal action. But in my opinion there are more organised bullying rings on Twitter and I fear that many more people are being put through the same hell as I and the other victims have endured.
If I still tweet, I will be applying a zero tolerance policy. I have been falsely accused of policing Twitter for expressing my opinion. From now on, I won’t be silent when I see bullying, abuse or targeted harassment.
I hope you will join me in making Twitter a better place.🔷