Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth; give him an anonymous Twitter account and he will dole out abuse befitting nobody but nasty troglodytes.
In light of their victory in yesterday's North London derby, the person manning Arsenal's Twitter account has created a bit of an online storm. Ahead of the game, the Daily Mail asked a number of their writers to pick a composite Arsenal/Tottenham XI, in a continuation of their policy to efficiently convert the rabid outrage of partisan groups into clicks and a sustainable business model.
Their journalist Adam Crafton elected to pick the entire Tottenham starting team, meaning there wasn't a single Arsenal player included.
It's a Spurs full house. I was not intending to be incendiary when I started noting down this line-up but in each position I found my gut instinct leaning towards a more vibrant and exciting Tottenham player.
Tottenham's goalkeeper and back three is non-negotiable; perhaps Bellerin was closest to making the cut and ousting Trippier. Arsenal's central midfield has been a weakness for a decade now. I am basing this on the form of players this season so Alexis Sanchez therefore does not make the cut.
Arsenal then proceeded to dismantle Spurs, and after the game, the official Arsenal account tweeted Crafton's personal account with a Gif of a winking Mesut Ozil, presumably in jest.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 18, 2017
Arsenal fans around the world delighted in this, with Crafton revealing later that he had received a deluge of death threats along with anti-semitic and homophobic abuse. He recommended that Arsenal not do this again.
Re this: I picked a team. Arsenal won. I look a bit silly. Congrats to Arsenal. But since they tweeted it to 12m people, I've had all-day harassment on here, including anti-Semitic, homophobic abuse & people wishing me dead. I can handle it but would not advise clubs repeat this. https://t.co/BrHw6E0bfQ
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) November 18, 2017
This started a debate online. While nobody from the club abused Crafton, should they have resisted the urge to tweet him, knowing the kind of reaction it could spark? The Times' Henry Winter criticised it as "small-minded":
Arsenal are a great club. But this is small-minded of them, causing the recipient "anti-Semitic, homophobic abuse & people wishing me dead". https://t.co/xdlfqW2n53
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 18, 2017
Arsenal's social media is usually very good, as it should be with so many people working on it, but that cheap tweet was a misjudgement.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 19, 2017
Gary Neville, by contrast, believed that it was good-natured, believing that the "minority" who abused the journalist in question should not cloud what was "good humour":
Clubs should absolutely continue to do this type of thing. We shouldn’t let the minority who have overstepped the mark on here cloud what is good humour and interaction . https://t.co/qbw3iCPBgQ
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) November 19, 2017
Where do you stand on it? Should all football clubs think twice about engaging with journalists or others in this way, mindful of the abuse that may follow from morons, or should they do so anyway, and accept that there will always be these types of people online? And in these cases, should more be expected of Twitter and other social media outlets to root out this abhorrent abuse?