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Diane Dodds thanks supporters after claim Tweet ‘did not break policy’

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Diane Dodds

Diane Dodds

Diane Dodds

DUP MLA Diane Dodds has sent “sincere and heartfelt” thanks to those who showed support after an offensive message sent to her on Twitter was widely condemned.

Mrs Dodds said on Monday evening: “Your kindness means everything.”

It’s after the social media giant said the anonymous message, which took aim at her late son Andrew, did not break their safety policies.

The social media account which was used to send the offensive message, taking aim at the MLA's late son Andrew, is now no longer in use. 

It's after Mrs Dodds posted on Twitter to wish her followers a happy new year. One user responded by making reference to the Dodds’ dead son. Andrew Dodds was born with spina bifida and died in 1998 - just before his ninth birthday.

When the tweet was reported, Twitter said the tweet didn’t break the rules laid out in their safety policy, which outlines their principles against abuse, harassment, violence and criminal actions on the platform. 

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They recommended the user blocks the account. "We know this isn’t the answer you’re looking for. If this account breaks our policies in the future, we’ll notify you," they said.

The message goes on to detail what content is not allowed on the platform - including harassment of others or encouraging harassment.

Twitter has been asked for a response.

The post drew widespread condemnation and the PSNI confirmed an investigation is underway.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said there was a need to call time on the "wild west" online and said a small number of people online believe they can say or do what they like "without consequence".

"No-one should be expected to just accept or ignore disgusting abuse, particularly that faced by many female public representatives.

“Like most online cowards, this latest abuse directed at Diane Dodds came from someone hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. This must be addressed and a verification process introduced.

"It has been gratifying to see a strong condemnation from many people in response to this abuse, but that does not tackle the root cause of the problem.

"Unfortunately self-regulation by social media companies has not worked so legislative action such as the Online Safety Bill will be necessary," he said.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne confirmed the PSNI had received a report of "offensive comments" made towards an individual on social media. He did not name Mrs Dodds, the former economy minister, but added: "We take incidents of this nature very seriously."

"We have spoken with her and our inquiries are continuing."

Meanwhile, a number of Stormont assembly members expressed solidarity with Mrs Dodds. Justice Minister Naomi Long said she had reported the comment to the police.

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong said the comment was "beneath contempt". "It was appalling. It was the bottom of the barrel, it was disgusting," she said.


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