DUP leader accuses Twitter of failing to act over tweet sent to Diane Dodds

An anonymous user made a reference to the DUP MLA's dead son

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has accused Twitter of failing to act after an account targeted DUP MLA Diane Dodds.

The PSNI confirmed on Saturday that a tweet sent to former economy minister Diane Dodds was reported to police.

The post has been widely condemned online.

Mrs Dodds posted on Twitter to wish her followers a happy new year.

However, an anonymous user replied with an abusive response by making reference to her dead son, Andrew.

Andrew was born with spina bifida and died in 1998 just before his ninth birthday.

Mrs Dodds confirmed she spoke to the PSNI about the tweet.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was among those to condemn the abuse on Saturday, calling it a “hate crime”.

He said that there is a “real need to call time on the ‘wild west’ online where a small number of people believe they can say or do what they like without consequence”.

On Sunday, he lambasted the social media company for failing to remove the account of the anonymous user.

“After more than 36 hours, the failure by Twitter to remove the account which targeted Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds in such a vile and disgraceful manner is inexcusable,” he said.

“Despite the launch of a police investigation and universal condemnation, it seems Twitter is unwilling to take the action necessary against those who are fuelled by hatred.

“What is even more shocking, is Twitter have responded to say after reviewing the information they did not find a violation of their rules.

“Twitter must explain why they view these vile and depraved tweets as acceptable.

“The current self-regulation procedures by social media companies are not fit for purpose and empowers the continuation of online abuse.

“Time must now be called on those who use online platforms to relentlessly abuse others and on the failures by social media companies to properly protect users from these cowardly attacks.”

GB News presenter and former DUP leader Arlene Foster, who has previously called for tighter regulations to tackle online trolling, also criticised the abuse on Saturday.

Mrs Foster said: “I have just retweeted one of the most vile things I have read on Twitter and I have read some awful stuff on Twitter.

“I want people to see what republicans are tweeting to unionist representatives, there must be action.”