A regional daily editor was forced to turn off comments on a report of a motorway smash in which a 12-year-old died after the story prompted ‘disgusting’ racist abuse.
Sana Patel, from Blackburn, died on Saturday night after the Nissan Qashqai in which she was a passenger was involved in a collision on the M61 in Lancashire.
The Bolton News carried a report on its website on Sunday, but after a series of racist comments, editor Karl Holbrook was forced to ban more than 12 users and turn off the thread.
He has now urged readers to report any abusive comments immediately and vowed to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to inappropriate use of the story comment facility.
Karl, pictured, stepped in after a reader, Shoyab Patel, alerted him to the comments via Twitter on Sunday afternoon.
She wrote: “It’s absolutely disgusting that a 13-year-old has died after a collision with a car and Bolton News allows the racist chavs of Bolton to spew their hate in the comments unabated all day!”
Karl replied: “It is disgusting. I’ve personally just banned more than a dozen people and turned off the comments after seeing your tweet.
“In future, can I ask rather than watching this sort of thing build up through the day, report it earlier so someone can take action straight away?”
Karl told HTFP: “It’s something we’ve been working very hard on recently, including having a meeting with the police about how best to deal with it.
“In recent weeks we’ve banned dozens of accounts and have taken a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour in the comments, which are often hijacked by a small group of faceless trolls who spoil it for the majority.
“We want to keep the comments live, wherever possible, in the interest of healthy debate but we are at a point where we are considering disabling them.
“Readers may not appreciate the difficulty we face moderating the thousands of comments and the sophistication of some of the worst offenders. For example, if we turn the comments off on one story because we think they may descend, they often turn up on unrelated, totally innocuous stories to spout their bile.
“As a result, In order to keep the comments forum running, we think it is a reasonable expectation to call on our readers to help us monitor the comments by reporting bad behaviour.
“We’ve also held a meeting with police in recent weeks about how best we can work with them to report the worst abuse.”
A 23-year-old woman, from the Mirfield area of West Yorkshire, was detained on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following Saturday’s collision.
A 28-year-old Dewsbury man was arrested on the same charge, along with failing to stop at the scene of an accident. Both have been released by police under investigation.