WHEN I heard that Caroline Flack had taken her life, I felt desperately sad for her. Who wouldn’t?

“Poor woman,” I said, as the news feed pinged on my phone. And that is how may of us learned about this tragedy - via a news feed. Because a high-profile TV figure found dead is news, like it or not. And, while we may not always approve of the way news is gathered, we consume it daily - political issues of the day, world news or the showbiz ‘sidebar of shame’- on phones, tablets, TV, radio, social media and newspapers.

Caroline Flack lived in the public eye, and sometimes made headlines for the wrong reasons. Her death is tragic. But the press didn’t kill her. Nor did the CPS.

Suicide is complex and leaves unanswered questions. This was a deeply troubled woman, no doubt afraid of the trial awaiting her. Of course it was going to be high profile. She was a celebrity, charged with assaulting her boyfriend. Should famous people have special privileges exempting them from press coverage if they end up in court? I don’t think so. That would set a dodgy precedent.

Police and lawyers are encouraged to pursue domestic violence charges even where the alleged victim has withdrawn their support, because it’s a dangerous crime. Pressing on with cases is something organisations working with victims generally support.

As the Society of Editors stated this week: “Caroline was given coverage in the media for many years prior to recent events, the vast majority of it very positive.” The statement also said the CPS decision to charge her were matters “in the public domain and should be covered”.

“To believe that by silencing mainstream media on such matters would prevent speculation on social media where rumour and accusations run unchecked by the regulations the media adheres to, is both naive and dangerous,” it continued.

I am so tired of the platitudes circling on social media over recent days. They’re a knee-jerk reaction to human tragedy, and ultimately futile. “You never know what’s going on in someone’s life...” posted someone who, the very next day, was unleashing a red mist Facebook rant about a motorist who’d cut her up.

“Be kind” are the buzz words on Facebook and Twitter. But social media isn’t kind is it? Unlike the press, it’s unregulated, and Twitter is particularly vitriolic and self-righteous. My hardworking colleagues are regularly attacked online by the sanctimonious and ill-informed.

A few years ago I wrote an opinion column about school trips, questioning the educational value of a costly New York trip for 14-year-olds at a local school. The outrage from parents reached fever-pitch, with calls for me to be sacked, and a thinly-veiled Twitter death threat.

If I’d been led out to the guillotine they’d have been there with knitting, baying for blood.

As a journalist you take it on the chin, but I was shocked at the vitriol. And that nasty episode came just weeks after my dad died. So don’t talk to me about being kind - I saw first-hand how middle-class parents can turn on a sixpence into haters, egged on by social media mob rule.

“Be kind” say the tweets. Yet within hours of Caroline Flack’s death, Twitter’s pitchfork mob was rounding up on David Walliams, demanding an apology for a joke he made a month ago. “Shame on @cpsuk!” tweeted an irate celeb. Shame on highly trained legal professionals for doing their job? Grow up!

Social media has much to answer for, when it comes to compassion and common sense. It didn’t seem particularly kind to poor Caroline Flack.

* SHOULD snacks be banned from cinemas? Actress Imelda Staunton has said that when she hears someone in a cinema or theatre audience scoffing crisps, she tells them to be quiet. I'm with her on that one. There is nothing more irritating, when you settle down to watch a film, than someone nearby chomping on noisy food, or glugging pop.

Why do people feel the need to take a meal into the cinema? Can't they last two hours without filling their face?

I don't mind ice-cream, popcorn or a bag of sweets (with minimal packet-rustling), but some folk take in hot dogs, burgers and nachos smothered in cheese or salsa sauce. As well as being noisy, it stinks!

In a cinema you're sharing the space with others. You're not in your living-room, pigging out on the sofa. So be courteous.

* WHY do people leave scary face masks in the front seat of their stationary vans? I walked past a vehicle the other day, and noticed a sinister clown staring out at me.

Surely these masks don't deter people from breaking into vans, so what's the point? It could be very upsetting for a child to see something resembling Pennywise (pictured), the horror clown from Stephen King's It, gazing at them from the passenger seat of a parked vehicle.

What I really object to is that these masks are so naff! They make furry dice hanging from a rear-view mirror look classy.