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Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark., Kevin Taylor column [Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. :: ]
[August 15, 2014]

Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark., Kevin Taylor column [Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. :: ]

(Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 15--I don't pay much attention to things outside of the sports world or much outside of the Fort Smith area. This has been my home for a third of my life and I take great pride in calling Arkansas home.

But once in awhile something elsewhere happens that catches my eye. That was case Thursday when I began reading about Robin Williams' daughter, Zelda. Her story struck a nerve. And, since a recent survey said 74 percent of Internet users use social media, I think it probably hits home for you as well.

Zelda Williams, whose famous father Robin, committed suicide late Sunday, decided to abandon her Twitter and Instagram accounts after a series of a bad tweets and text messages from unruly people. The young actress was besieged with horrible posts from people she doesn't know.

According to the Pew Research Internet Project, social media use among Internet users has risen 90 percent since 2005, and though there are millions of people posting innocent "first day of school" pictures on Facebook and Instagram, social media can be dangerous. Professional athletes get harassed on a daily basis.

Social media harassment is something all of us are still learning to deal with. It doesn't just affect high school athletes or professional football players -- it can affect anybody.

I feel bad for Zelda. We all do. She lost her dad.

So what do we do now? Is there any way of keeping Twitter from exposing people to insults like this? Del Harvey, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement that his company "will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter." Twitter officials reported they had deleted three abusive sites hurling insults at Williams by mid-day Wednesday -- two full days after Robin Williams' death.

Not all the tweets directed at Zelda were negative. There were plenty of positive tweets.

Area school administrators told me they're researching ways to prevent social media badgering. Some schools monitor students' Facebook accounts. They may soon be doing the same on Twitter, Instagram and other sites.

Twitter can be really harsh when it comes to bullying because of the 140 characters in which you have to make your point.

Kevin Taylor is a Times Record sports writer. Email: Twitter: @Kevin_TimesRec ___ (c)2014 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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