PCC blocks internet ‘trolls’ after personal attacks online

PCC Festus Akinbusoye
PCC Festus Akinbusoye

Internet ‘trolls’ are being blocked from Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye’s personal social media accounts.

The PCC said that being an elected official does not mean that he has to put up with personal attacks.

“Nothing really prepares you for this [when you are elected],” he said.

“Because I put myself out there so much, I’m bound to attract people who don’t agree with me.

“That’s fine, but I don’t have to put up with those people who just choose to be nasty.

“I very rarely do it, but when people start to make malicious comments or make allegations, not just about me, but about people that work in my office or other people, I don’t have to put up with it on my social media feeds.

The PCC was talking about the accounts he set up personally, which are not taxpayer funded, and are not controlled by his office.

“These are mine, I can do whatever I want on them – if I don’t want to talk to you I’ll block you,” he said.

“The majority of people [on social media] are actually very pleasant, they appreciate the work you’re doing.

“You get those people who no matter what I write, no matter what it is, they will find something to complain about.

“And I put up with them, because it is what it is, but there is a very small number of people who just take it to the next level.

“For the most part I just ignore them, but sometimes, I say ‘you know what, I’ve had enough of you’.

“You have one more go at this and I’m going to block you.

“And if you want to get in touch with my office you can email, but I will not engage with you on social media because my mental health is more important to me.

“Ultimately that trumps someone’s rights to say whatever they like to me,” he said.

“I don’t care when somebody says ‘but I’m an elected figure’, I’m a human being, I’m a person, I have a right to some sanity

“And for the most part, I’m very respectful to everyone, I put up with some not very pleasant human beings on social media and try to communicate with them.

“Sometimes I just won’t have it.

“It is a form of online bullying, and if they met me in person they will never say what they were saying, they just wouldn’t.

“People don’t realise that what they say online can impact people’s personal life.

“And if they knew that and they were still doing it anyway it shows that something is wrong with those people.

“But at some point they need to realise that it is not good when they are going out of their way to constantly attack, attack, attack, especially when they don’t even have the full information.

“Disagreement, yes, nastiness, no,” he said.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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