Then I thought…No, let’s not get carried away. So this will be considerably shorter than I anticipated. And I’m not going into detail here. But I will answer any questions anyone has about any aspect of them.
As far as I can ascertain, this is the extent of the claims.
- Restraining orders are out against me. Not true.
- I’ve been reported to the police, and the police have investigated me. Not true. I’ve never done anything to warrant police attention, and have never had any dealings with the police.
- I’ve sent dick pictures to Twitter users. Not true. I’ve never done this.
- I create sock puppet accounts to follow and harass people who’ve blocked me. Not true. I’ve never done this. I’ve only ever had one Twitter account, @Author SJB. (I did have access to a football club’s account from 2009 to 2014 for posting match reports when I covered their games for the local newspaper at that time).
- I access Twitter users’ timelines after they’ve blocked me, and follow their followers. Not true. I’ve never done this.
- I’ve been involved in fraud. Not true.
- I have links with paedophiles. Not true.
- I have a foot fetish. Not true. Yes, I go barefoot for my mental and physical wellbeing, but I don’t find the human foot remotely attractive, either male or female.
- I tracked a teenager to his school after a disagreement on Twitter. Not true. (This “teenager” was actually a university graduate in his twenties, and Twitter permanently suspended his account for harassing me over a three month period).
Yes, the lies hurt.
Yes, they could be damaging to me, if a lot of people believed them. It’s this point that’s led to me breaking my silence about the full extent of what I’ve put up with on Twitter for at least five years. But on the positive side, it was the inspiration for my critically-acclaimed short story The Twitter Bully, which was published in an independent anthology in 2015, and is the sign-off story in my own short story collection, Thunderlands.
I know that a number of people who block me on Twitter read my timeline, and tweet untruths about me, because a couple of friends occasionally send me screengrabs of their posts. In the past I’ve tried ignoring them, I’ve tried reasoning with them, I’ve tried presenting them with the facts, I’ve tried humour.
But a few months ago they tried a new technique. A Twitter friend, Mark Thomas (he’s NOT one of those who’s sent me screengrabs over the years) messaged me to say he’d been approached by an anonymous account and was told a number of what he described as “very disturbing things, documents, tweets, reports and claims ranging from grooming kids to fraud. What the fuck man?”
He confronted me and asked for an explanation. Once I explained the history with the people involved, Mark stepped away and didn’t want any involvement, but could see there was years of this happening.
Unfortunately, it seems some people do believe the claims. At around that time I was unfollowed by a few accounts, and blocked by others – including four people who I'd regarded as good Twitter friends. It hurt that they could simply believe such horrible things about me which aren’t true, especially as they didn’t even give me a chance to defend myself and show them the truth.
A particularly disturbing aspect of all this is that a new follower who subsequently blocked me, told me she’d been approached by a particular account and told a number of things about me.
At first I didn’t recognise the account name that she showed me. I later realised from the @ that the main name had changed since I did have contact with it more than three and a half years ago. That account had reported me to Twitter in January 2015 after I’d strongly responded to it over a number of tweets about, and to, a Community Interest Company I supported at the time, and Twitter suspended my account. I emailed Twitter with copies of the tweets I’d been responding to and my account was immediately restored, with an apology. That was the last time I had any dealings with that account…I’ve never seen any of its tweets since, nor been involved with it in any way. So I’m at a loss as to why it’s now commenting about me three and a half years later with no provocation from me.
My mental health is beginning to suffer as a result of people believing these claims. So, I’ll end by asking that if you, or anyone you know, have blocked me because of what you’ve been told, please give me the opportunity to show you the facts and the truth: ask me any question you wish about any aspect of what you’ve been told.