Ferial Haffajee on 'trolling armies' influencing politics

In a column on Tuesday, Daily Maverick associate editor and columnist Ferial Haffajee comments that social media platforms display among the worst forms of violence against journalists and pose a threat to media freedom.

Describing herself as part of their "roadkill", she details her own harrowing experience of Twitter trolls.

"Online abuse has become so commonplace that taking it in and blocking is part of the daily routine now", she writes.

The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) is busy with a court case against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which it accuses of of hate speech and threats against journalists.

RELATED: 'EFF threats 'a pattern to intimidate and make work of journalists difficult'

ALSO RELATED: Sanef worried by rise in cyberbullying of journalists

The EFF has accused Sanef of misrepresenting its leader Julius Malema, but Haffajee counters that it's not that easy to divorce political parties from their trolling armies.

On Afternoon Drive, John Maytham asks the seasoned journalist whether she would consider quitting Twitter to protect herself from the debilitating attacks she's been subject to.

I'm not sure that retreat or surrender is the way to deal with this rising threat. It's not just a threat to the media, it's a threat to politics and democracies as we've seen most visibly the UK and in the US but really around the world.

Ferial Haffajee, Associate editor and columnist - Daily Maverick

I have found it for the past 10 years I've been on it an amazing tool, a democratising one. If you're a breaking news journalist, I think you have to be there.

Ferial Haffajee, Associate editor and columnist - Daily Maverick

Studies show that it's the most important news tool in the world today.

Ferial Haffajee, Associate editor and columnist - Daily Maverick

She might consider leaving the platform in the future but right now, says Haffajee, it's more important to address the problem head-on.

If it gets much worse then I would consider going off it, but I do think there's a worthwhile fight to be had in trying to unmask the trolls, trying to find the trolling armies because... if you look at Mexico, at Vietnam, definitely in the Balkans, these trolling armies are beginning to alter politics and influence it.

Ferial Haffajee, Associate editor and columnist - Daily Maverick

Listen to the full conversation here:


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