Monday 26 September 2016

Parents of missing Madeleine McCann shut Twitter account due to 'toxic' abuse

Published 06/10/2015 | 11:16

Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of disappeared girl Madeleine McCann.
Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of disappeared girl Madeleine McCann.

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have shut their official 'Find Madeleine' Twitter account, claiming they have been subjected to "toxic" abuse.

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The online campaign for finding Madeleine will now focus on Facebook, a webmaster - named as 'FM Webmaster-  for their Facebook account posted yesterday.

Madeleine was three years of age when she disappeared from Praia de Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

"After talking with Kate and Gerry yesterday, we have decided to delete our Twitter account and focus on Facebook. They agree it's time to remove ourselves from a place that allows so much toxic content to be directed at us and does not permit us the ability to protect ourselves from people who want to damage the search for Madeleine," the statement read.

Madeleine McCann, who disappeared aged three.
Madeleine McCann, who disappeared aged three.
Madeleine McCann

"When I started our Facebook and Twitter accounts in 2008, I convinced Kate and Gerry it was a great way to raise awareness.

"Since that time, I have witnessed overwhelming kindness. There is no doubt that the good far outweigh the bad. The vast majority of people care about Madeleine deeply and want to see her come home to her family where she belongs.

Ben Needham who vanished on July 24 1991
Ben Needham who vanished on July 24 1991

"I have been dismayed, however, at some of the hatred and sheer viciousness directed at Kate and Gerry through our social media accounts for no logical reason at all. At times, it has had me in tears. It is hard to accept that some people can be so cruel to a family that has already experienced the worst pain imaginable," the Facebook statement said.

"Further, in the past three weeks on Twitter, we have found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being expected to "follow" people who align themselves with accounts that abuse us in the most vile ways on a regular basis. I believe individuals and social media accounts who do not block people who abuse others are condoning that abuse and providing a platform for it.

A digital portrait of how Ben Needham may look now
A digital portrait of how Ben Needham may look now

"I blocked those accounts to shield us from the abuse and negativity, and I was publicly called out for it (unfairly and with the whole truth not being told). Because I was bullied into turning off the abuse protection feature Twitter provides, this has left us vulnerable to continued abuse on Twitter. As a result, deleting our Twitter account is the only option left to protect ourselves and the search for Madeleine.

"Thank you to all who come here to support our campaign and most of all Madeleine. SHE is what is important, and our job is to get her home," the statement concluded.

After talking with Kate and Gerry yesterday, we have decided to delete our Twitter account and focus on Facebook. They...

Posted by Official Find Madeleine Campaign on Monday, 5 October 2015

The decision by Kate and Gerry McCann to shut down their Twitter account because of vicious online abuse has been criticised by the mother of snatched toddler Ben Needham.

Tension has been building between the two missing persons campaigns in recent weeks, after Kerry Needham, whose son Ben vanished 24 years ago in Greece, questioned the huge sum of police money spent on the search for missing Madeleine McCann.

Ben's mother Kerry Needham.
Ben's mother Kerry Needham.

The official Find Madeleine Campaign group said it has experienced a spike in abuse over the past few weeks and reportedly moved to block Twitter accounts supported by the Ben Needham Campaign.

Ms Needham told the Daily Mirror: "It feels like a personal attack on me. It is deeply, deeply hurtful.

"I have myself had massive amounts of slanderous abuse from supporters of the McCann campaign in the past but I have never taken that personally."

She added: "I have never criticised the McCann family. I have only ever criticised the authorities for the way the two cases have been handled so differently."

Ms Needham's 21-month-old son Ben vanished from the Greek island of Kos in July 1991.

The families of Madeleine and Ben believe their children are still alive.

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