Gary Glitter

Gary Glitter

The Gary Glitter story we published the other day has been branded as a fake and a social experiment by it’s creator. On the blog Glitter On Twitter a full statement has been published, it reads as follows:

Firstly, let me say that this account does not belong to convicted paedophile Gary Glitter. I am deeply disgusted by what Gary Glitter has done in his life and am not condoning, making light of or glorifying child abuse. His crimes are unforgivable and chilling.

I set this twitter account up as a social experiment to highlight the dangers and safety of children using the social networking sites and to discover and question public morality. It’s been an interesting and eye-opening experience for me and I will now explain myself.

Gary Glitter is a convicted child sex offender; he was found guilty of possessing indecent images of children on his computer and imprisoned abroad for committing sex acts with children. Acts which are unquestionably unforgivable. Yet in a New Music Exchange news article published today, (http://www.nme.com/news/gary-glitter/61560) The UK Home Office have confirmed that the police cannot ban people like Mr Glitter from using a computer, or social networking sites, as it would be a “breach of their human rights”. In other words, it would seem there is no legislation currently in place to stop sex offenders from viewing your online profiles.

A chilling realisation.

Twitter have no age requirement to become a member of their site and although Facebook terms and conditions require you to be 13 or over, parents are allowing their children to access and register on these websites, simply because “their friends do it”, the parents don’t know the dangers about their children being online or quite simply because they don’t care or see any real dangers.

If you are a parent that saw my @OfficialGlitter account, I am sure you will agree with me that you felt a sickening feeling imagining that a sex offender had an online profile in the public domain and access to children’s information, status updates and photos.

I’ve had many tweets over the past 48 from parents, saying that they were going to “remove their children from Twitter until @OfficialGlitter is removed.” Let me hit you with a horrible realisation. There are literally thousands of sexual and child predators hiding away in dark corners of the internet and using assumed names to mask their real identity (the exact opposite of what I’ve been doing). On that basis why remove your children from Twitter on the basis that one sex offender has “reportedly” publicly joined the site, when there are thousands of others who can and do regularly access children’s profiles and information?

@OfficialGlitter was a fake account. But imagine if it hadn’t have been. I’ve got almost 20,000 followers now. That’s 20,000 people I can send private and direct messages to. That’s hundreds of thousands of photos I can view. Imagine for a second, I set up a profile saying I was a “Justin Bieber Fan Club”. How many young girls would follow me? I hazard a guess at a few thousand. The scary thing is that most parents wouldn’t bat an eye-lid at their child following a profile that seems to promote their favourite singer.

So what do we need to do to protect children online?

The UK needs legislation in place to ban registered sex offenders from using digital communications without supervision. Internet Service Providers should have to monitor and police just who they are letting online. Imprisonment should be imposed when sex offenders fail to follow this legislation.

Parents need to be properly informed of the dangers of allowing their children unsupervised access to social networking sites.

Social Networking Sites such as Facebook and Twitter need to properly police just who is using their websites.

Think on this: I managed to maintain a presence on Twitter for 48 hours under the name “The Official Gary Glitter”. I wasn’t removed. I never recieved one communication from Twitter questioning me.

The second part of the experiment was to assess how public morality differs between “real life” and “online”.

Apart from the thousands of negative and abusive comments I got whilst impersonating Glitter, it amazed me and deeply disturbed me to see a shocking amount of positive, encouraging and supportive comments that people were giving to a convicted child rapist. Almost 20,000 people “followed” me on Twitter and I received a huge amount of tweets.

Amongst the hate, there were a huge amount of tweets like this. People genuinely excited at the prospect of a “Gary Glitter Comeback Tour”? Do people’s morals differ when they are online? Do they feel somehow “protected” behind the smokescreen of a keyboard?

There were also people who seemed to enjoy making paedophilia and sex abuse jokes and giving unwarranted publicity to a paedophile.

Have people forgotten what hideous crimes that Mr Glitter committed? Does the digital world somehow make them exempt from basic human morality?

Another interesting point that shocked me, was how very little effort it took to get the UK Media to freely promote this fictional “comeback tour”. Supposedly trusted and reliable media sources were providing me with free publicity and promoting awareness of the fictional Glitter tour/album/book.

The following sites brought in a massive increase in followers to the page within the first 24 hours by featuring a story/article on the Twitter page:

NME Magazine, Huffington Post, The Daily Sun, The Metro, ITN, Music Rooms.net, Yahoo.com, WebProNews.com, Vice.com and StereoBoard.com

How low do the media have to sink to sell newspapers or boost ratings? Do they actually have to lower themselves to promoting a convicted paedophile’s twitter page which could have potentially brought sales for Glitter’s (fictional) books or music? They would be responsible for putting money into Glitter’s pocket.

And finally,

Firstly, to those people who sent hate/abuse and started the #GetGlitterOffTwitter campaign:

Although legally, there is nothing you could have done to remove Glitter, it’s very satisfying to know that a majority of Britain still has their morals intact.

To parents who let their children use social networking sites unsupervised:

I hope this has been a sobering experience to highlight just what dangers do lurk online, and just how close these dangers can get.

To the UK Government:

I hope this has highlighted the flaws with human rights protecting the rights of registered sex offenders whilst also putting our children at risk by allowing (what could have been) a real sex offender on twitter. If sex offenders are so limited in the “real world”, why are there no laws prohibiting what they can and can’t do on in the “digital” world. Something must be done.

To conclude,

I’d like to thank everyone who knew about this experiment and the people who helped me bring this matter to the public.

If at any point during this experiment I’ve caused anyone alarm, distress or panic, I wholeheartedly apologise and hope you can see why something on this scale needed to be done. I’d also like the media who initially reported on the @OfficialGlitter account, to promote this cause as much as they possibly can to highlight the serious changes that are needed in the law.

Best regards, and stay safe online.

Ben.

Contact me: internetsafetyexperiment@hotmail.co.uk

So what are your thoughts on this? Were you one of the few genuinely excited by the prospect of a Glitter Comeback? Let us know your thoughts below.

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About the Author

Glenn

Editor & Photographer. Eclectic music tastes and fan of a good beat. Can usually be found at a Gig across the Country or at a Festival in the Summer - More than likely with a camera surgically attached to me.
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