Outrage over Facebook group

A DEFAMATORY social networking group has gone viral across the Central Highlands, sparking outrage and concern from community members. The group is understood to have been created Tuesday morning – and by yesterday morning it had been shut down.

However, another has sprung up in its place, operating under the same name, for the same purpose.

An Emerald-based mother, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of personal retribution from one of the group’s more militant members, said whoever was administrating the page obviously didn’t understand the consequences and repercussions of their actions.

“What this (individual) doesn’t understand is that what is posted on Facebook is out there for the whole world to see – and it doesn’t go away,” the mother said.

“They’re hiding behind a computer and I bet they wouldn’t get up in front of a school assembly in front of 500 people and say the same thing. They think it is safe but it is actually illegal.”

The page invites Facebook users to befriend it, so people can write in about other people.

All submissions are kept anonymous, except for a few – and the content is too crude to reprint in this newspaper.

The concerned mother said bullying struck a very personal note, as she had seen the true realities of what could happen if a person was bullied and harassed.

“That sort of future is not something I want for these kids,” the mother said.

“Kids think people are weak if they don’t just laugh it off or go along with it – and that is not right.

“This page has to stop – and people have to stop adding fuel to the fire.”

Emerald’s Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves said police were aware of the page – and warned residents of the potential implications of cyber bullying. He said it was considered cyber bullying when one child targeted another in a negative way using interactive technology to threaten, torment, harass, humiliate, embarrass or target another person.

“Parents should be aware cyber bullying cases are on the increase,” he said. “Police recommend parents monitor their children’s activities in relation to the use of mobile phones and the internet. Schools should be notified of all cases involving students – and parents should take all action to prevent cyber bullying, for example, by blocking the sender and not responding.”

Snr Sgt Reeves said in extreme cases, cyber bullying could constitute an offence under the law, resulting in criminal prosecution.

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