This morning at Queen’s University Freshers’ Fair, our reporter Tori Watson caught a quick word with newly appointed Health Minister Jim Wells (DUP), to uncover the reason behind his recent ‘blocking’ spree on twitter, which has led to the hashtag #BlockedByWells trending across Northern Ireland.
Mr Wells said that he “welcomes people joining (him) on Twitter, and since (his) appointment (he) has received many new friends”. However Mr Wells made it very clear that “if someone swears at me, uses foul language, or swears at another member of the party (DUP), I’ll delete them immediately. I’ll block them. Equally if they…advocate something which is illegal in Northern Ireland”
Mr Wells went on to state, “if people want to be in contact with me, I’d ask them to temper their language, and to use the normal conversation that any sensible person would have, but unfortunately, when people are on Twitter, they feel it is anonymous and that they can say what they like.”
For those who have been #BlockedByWells, they may be unblocked “if they come back to (Mr Wells) and say ‘OK, point taken, I’ll continue the conversation in normal English without the expletives’, then (Mr Wells is) happy for them to remain on (his Twitter account).”
As those who have been blocked by fellow Twitter users cannot send direct messages or Tweets to the person who has blocked them, Tori asked Mr Wells how best he felt #BlockedByWells users could relay this information to him. Mr Wells said “they can send me an email….explaining that maybe this was a temporary aberration, that they didn’t mean to use the language they did”. (You can find Mr Wells email address on the DUP website.)
We at The Scoop were specifically contacted by students who said that they had never directly tweeted Mr Wells, and were surprised to discover that they had been blocked from viewing his account. Tori asked Mr Wells why this may have occurred. In response Mr Wells said, “if someone sent (him) a twitter message and had shared it with others..when (Mr Wells and his media team) checked them, (if) they were using the same outrageous language, then clearly, they were coming to (him) next,” and therefore they were blocked from viewing his personal Twitter account.
Mr Wells said that he received a vast quantity of“quite frankly cynical, nasty, insulting messages” on a daily basis which take a long time to “trawl through”. However Mr Wells did say that Twitter is“exceptionally valuable” to get“a message out to the public” and to “deal with…genuine complaints”.
Latest posts by Tori Watson (see all)
- Senate rejects rainbow flag proposal, VC cites equality policy - June 29, 2015
- House Hunting Tips - June 11, 2015
- Belfast South Election Profile: Fearghal McKinney on Alasdair McDonnell SDLP - May 5, 2015