Politics |Emerging

Backlash over ‘offensive’ tweets causes UK journalist to resign from education board

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Controversial journalist Toby Young stepped down from his role on the board of English university regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), after criticism of comments on Twitter and in columns that included repeated references to women’s breasts and comments about disabled people.

The OfS chair described the remarks as “offensive” (The Guardian) and a petition calling for his sacking has been signed by more than 200,000 people.

On stepping down on Tuesday, Young wrote (The Spectator, may be behind paywall) that his appointment had become a “distraction” from the work of the board. Young, a columnist and co-founder of the West London Free School, apologized and said the comments under fire were “ill-judged or just plain wrong.”

His appointment caused uproar in British media and social media feeds since it was announced on January 1, in an ongoing backlash against his suitability for the role. He deleted up to 40,000 tweets posted since 2009 following his appointment, which raises wider questions about the online responsibility of public figures.

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.

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Talk (6)

Peter Bale

Peter Bale

"I would like to read thoughtful piece..."
ND

Nino Dvoršak

"8/10 Interesting dilemma, highlighti..."
ND

Nino Dvoršak

"Well, social media isn't anonymous an..."
sc

steve covington

"I've "no dog in this fight" as a U.S...."

Author

United Kingdom
Lydia is a staff journalist at WikiTribune, where she writes about politics, women's rights, inequality, sexual politics and more. Previously she headed up the women’s rights and political content at Konbini for over two years. In 2016, she made ‘Building Big’, a documentary about bigorexia and male body image. Her work has also been published in Dazed & Confused, Refinery29, Vice, Lyra, Banshee and Buffalo Zine. She is based in London.

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Talk for Story "Backlash over ‘offensive’ tweets causes UK journalist to resign from education board"

Talk about this Story

  1. 8/10
    Interesting dilemma, highlighting the dangers of reckless use of social media

  2. I’ve “no dog in this fight” as a U.S. reader of the Spectator. Contrast this story, however, with Fraser Nelson’s take on what Toby Young has done. Another example of a sanctimonious left-wing hit thanks in good part to the frightening power of social media. That needs exploring.

    1. I would like to read thoughtful pieces on the rise of the modern puritans. In the Young case I suspect I agree with Nelson that a line needs to be drawn by what he writes as a paid journalist or commentator with a reputation as a provocateur and plainly stupid and ill-thought tweets in his “down” time.
      Here is the Fraser Nelson link: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/01/announcing-a-change-to-toby-youngs-spectator-column/

    2. Well, social media isn’t anonymous anymore, people need to get used to it and not keep talking shit to just anyone. Posting a tweet to everyone is like shouting in the street while being filmed for archives… Be responsible and adult.

  3. The OfS is the English regulator, not a British one.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Liam. Have changed.

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