Imagine if someone created a newspaper - call it The Daily Vile - in which anyone who wanted to could level insult and abuse at anyone we want without any fear of being exposed or prosecuted and without any responsibility under the law? 

Oh, and it’s free to use.  And The Vile will be posted through the doors of your families and friends. And your work colleagues and your employer and the police. And this can go on and on for months 

Well, that’s what we have created with Twitter. It is a publication unlike any other because it is not recognised under the law as a publication - even though it is clearly under the editorial control of billionaires in the US.

If it were a publication, like The Herald, Twitter would be shut down within 24 hours.  

That’s why the comments posted under every Herald column have to be closely moderated before they are printed and why people who post comments here have to declare their identity. The editors of The Herald website do this, not just because it is the law, but because it is the most basic requirement of civilised debate. 

Freedom of speech is not unlimited and never has been.  No one should have the right to make abusive comments from behind a cloak of anonymity.

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