Home U.K Schoolboy tackles the online trolls who target vulnerable with new law

Schoolboy tackles the online trolls who target vulnerable with new law

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Zach, who has epilepsy and cerebral palsy, was trolled after he completed a fundraising walk for the Epilepsy Society. Last month the Daily Express, which is campaigning to wipe trolls off the internet, told how they tried to make Zach’s supporters suffer seizures by using flashing messages. We presented Liverpool FC fan Zach with a team shirt for his bravery and he is now the focus of an Epilepsy Society move to outlaw such potentially fatal online attacks. Zach and Claire, 40, joined society officials for a Zoom meeting with Tory MP Mr Hinds this week. Claire, of Liversedge, West Yorks, said: “Zach explained what happened to us, the anxiety and stress, all those horrible feelings we incurred and why we want to see the law changed.

“He’s very comfortable talking to people, especially adults. A lot of people say he’s like a little old man.”

Inspired by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore’s heroic efforts for the NHS, Zach raised £20,000 last summer by walking – minus his wheelchair for the first time – around the family garden.

But when his 1.6-mile feat was publicised on Twitter, trolls bombarded it with strobes and multicoloured images designed to spark convulsions.

Zach was not harmed but several epilepsy patients who saw them suffered fits.

Campaigners want seizure-inducing messages to be recognised as a specific offence in the forthcoming Online Harms Bill.

The Daily Express crusade is backed by John Giacobbi, whose protection firmWeb Sheriff has advised stars including TV host Noel Edmonds how to fight back against incidents of cyber harassment.

John believes the only way trolls can be banished is if social media firms compel people to register their true names before allowing them to post.

He joins famous names such as Daily Express columnist Richard Madeley, Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge and former Crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal, in backing our campaign.

John said: “Social media platforms are so reluctant to divulge information.

“They make it as difficult as possible – it is like pulling teeth. The police have to drag it out of them.

“It’s fine if you want to call yourself Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck online, but the company should be able to lay their hands on your real details.

“The companies should also be compelled to pass on information to the relevant authorities within 48 hours.”

Facebook said: “We respond to valid legal requests for information and will continue to work with the police to collectively tackle this issue.”

A spokeswoman for Twitter said: “We have policies in place that apply to everyone, everywhere, that address threats of violence, abuse and harassment.”



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