Helen Skelton Quits Twitter Over Torrent of Abuse -- Is This the Start of a Celebrity Mass Exodus?

By Sam Gibbs on at

We heard how Tom Daley got a load of abuse, then other Team GB members, but now we're hearing more and more about the abuse people get on Twitter. Next up is Blue Peter's Helen Skelton, who's also doing some Olympic TV work; she's quit Twitter over some horrendous trolling, while Kirstie Allsopp has a fight on her hands too. Does this mark the beginnings of a celebrity Twitter mass walkout, and will that bring Twitter crashing down?

The Guardian reports that Channel 4's Allsopp has been having a pretty torrid time of it too, having to call the police over two anonymous abusers. She recently told her followers that she wouldn't be bullied off Twitter and that she "will not accept being told to shoot [her] own womb or bleed to death with a spade in [her] vagina by anyone. Bullying is unacceptable."

Ouch, that's pretty damn harsh, but at least Kirstie's sticking her ground and won't be pushed off by trolls. I fear, though, that she'll be the exception rather than the rule, and that others won't put up with the crap and just ditch Twitter.

Now, I'm not exactly a celebrity fan -- I don't follow celebs for the most part, and I couldn't care less what they get up to -- but Twitter relies on celebrities being the big draw for your average Joe on the street. If the celebs bailed I suspect a majority of people on the street would too, and Twitter could return to the geek-oly playground it once was. That'd be great for us, of course, but it'd be really bad for the business. I fear that Twitter wouldn't survive, at least in its current form, if its user base faltered like that.

What Twitter can actually do to stop this kind of trolling, I have no idea. It already allows users to block people on Twitter, just like any other messaging service, but that doesn't seem enough for celebrities. Perhaps some kind of filtering or censoring, but it seems dammed if it does, and doomed if it doesn't. [Guardian]