Friday, December 18, 2009

Twitter Troll

We had emails from readers wanting us to verify the death of a little boy two days ago, but by the time we saw the emails, the death had sadly been confirmed.

Since then, we have had comments about a "Twitter Troll" Madison McGraw who seems "hellbent on destroying this boy's mom", according to one reader.

The time line we have is: the mother, Shellie, was twittering from 5:17 to 5:22 about chickens in her yard, while cleaning the coup. According to police, she had asked her 11-year-old son to take the 2-year-old, Bryson, into the house while she was cleaning, and before she began twittering. She went inside to find Bryson missing.

At 5:23, the older son called 911, when they found the toddler at the bottom of the pool. Bryson was taken by ambulance to the hospital at 5:55. His mother arrived shortly after, and sent a twitter at 6:13 to her over 5,000 twitter friends letting them know her son needed prayers, that he had fallen into the pool. The little boy was pronounced dead around 6, and his mother was notified at 6:30.

The police have determined that her using twitter did not contribute to the child's death. However, most major news sources have picked up the story, and the ongoing debate on whether or not her twitters about her son's accident and his death were appropriate.

On Twitter, the debate also included the amount the mother twittered - between 70 and 80 twitters in nine hours, with two children home that day. In particular, one user, MadisonMcGraw, has taken a particular interest in this, and has been sent to us as a "Twitter Troll."

Originally we were asked to expose Madison McGraw's true identity, as she has spoken to all the media under the pen name, and blogs and twitters under several monikers, but never her real name. That has been discovered as well - she's Laura Freed, of PA. Hiding behind a pen name when making such accusations after the death of a toddler is certainly, indisputably trollish.

We were also asked to just have her recognized as a troll, but there seems to be some debate about whether or not her arguments are valid, the reason behind her continuing to push her agenda (she is a little-known author, and links to articles back to her site), and the reason she would persecute a mother after such a loss.

On the other hand, people are questioning how much is too much in regards to the number of twitters posted, how much focus was on Twitter instead of on the child who died, and the use of Twitter right after a death.

We have our opinions, but they're not cut-and-dry. Instead, we are posting this as a sounding board for those readers who emailed us, so they can discuss it outside of Twitter.