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As Australia receives home our 17th casualty in the fight against terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Facebook tribute page set up to honour, Private Nathan Bewes is the latest tribute page to be desecrated by serial pests, known as ‘trolls’. The trolls post obnoxious and quite frankly rude and disgusting comments on a site which is meant to be a place for family, friends and a grateful nation to express their sympathy to a man who gave his life in the pursuit of freedom so that we can have, amongst other things, the right to freedom of speech.
I heard on the Michael Smith afternoon show today on 4BC Radio here in Brisbane, that a tribute page set up to honour Private Bewes had been attacked by trolls on the day that Private Bewes’ body arrived back in Brisbane. Private Bewes died last week in Afghanistan after being killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) while on patrol.
Here is an example of the disrespect on the wall of the tribute page
….and it continues with more idiocy which I won’t show here.
So as you can see, some lowlife scum, has set up a fake Nathan Bewes profile and pretended to be him, even using a photo of Private Bewes and his girlfriend. How low can someone go? The idiot on the other end of that keyboard has absolutely no respect for the hardship and sorrow, Private Bewes’ family and friends would be going through right now. They would be on Facebook gathering strength from all of the positive messages from people right around this great country, to then come across this sort of garbage, well to me is just heartbreaking.
It’s not just one or two idiots who troll these sites. On the very same tribute page for Private Bewes there are these two fools who continue the attacks.
If you click on the profile of Khoul Storibro – which is meant to sound like, Cool Story Bro, I assume – you will see that this idiot has over 200 friends and his information page has his employers listed as ‘Trolling Industries, Inc’. So for this guy, trolling has become a hobby. In his ‘Likes and Interests’ info he is also a member of ‘RIP Jade Goody’ and “RIP Cheryl Tweedy’ and who knows what sort of messages he has left on those tribute pages.
There is something seriously wrong with these idiots. I would like to see their reaction if someone close to them died and a Facebook tribute page was set up and see how they like the comments being sent their way. They wouldn’t like it one bit. But then again, people who are affected by death usually have feelings and emotions and compassion. Something these idiots clearly lack so perhaps they wouldn’t care.
In February this year, a school boy, Elliott Fletcher, 12, was murdered at his school at St Patricks in northern Brisbane and a tribute page was set up on Facebook. Earlier that month, 8 year old Trinity Bates was murdered in Bundaberg and also had a Facebook tribute page set up in her honour.
However, within hours, the trolling had begun on both pages and what was meant to be a celebration of life for two very young children, tragically taken too soon, was embroiled in controversy as the trolls started to leave disturbing messages and in the case of Elliott Fletcher, links to child pornography. Thankfully, the sick bastard who posted the child pornography was tracked down and arrested and hopefully will have the book thrown at him.
This leaves us with a conundrum. Private Bewes and all of the other diggers who have fought and died and those who are still there or were there fighting for our freedom were fighting for our way of life and one aspect of that way of life is our right to the freedom of speech. I am able to write this post today without fear of censorship or discrimination by our government. Do we have a right to expect the administrators of Facebook to delete such trolling? Do we expect the government to pass laws to outlaw such insensitivity on what are obviously tribute pages?
The people who set up these tribute pages do have the right to delete any comments which they do not want to show on the page, but for some of the pages where the death of the person being immortalised, the comments can be in their hundreds and during this difficult time of grieving, well should the administrator of the page even have to moderate? Surely they should be able to set up the tribute page in good faith and not have the trolls attack it.
The trolls seem to thrive on the feedback they get from people who go to the site to leave genuine messages. People hurl abusive attacks back at the trolls calling them insensitive and cowardly, and of course, they are exactly that. But it is like a drug for them and they keep on trolling and feeding off the high the come backs are giving them. And I am guilty of contributing towards it. Just today, I challenged one of the trolls to make contact with me so we could arrange a time to meet so that I could teach him some respect. Of course this idiot will never meet me, or anyone else for that matter, because they are safe and secure in front of their computer in an anonymous world.
So what is the best course of action? Ignore them. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced this is the only way. We cannot expect our government to alter the freedom of speech rules. The trolls statements are mostly idiotic and not hateful so there is not really a lot the government can do. The administrators of the tribute pages can report the trolls and once blocked they cannot leave any more messages on the particular tribute site. They will continue however to troll other tribute sites and continue their idiotic campaign.
If you are reading through tribute pages and you come across a troll, you can report them to Facebook by clicking on their profile and reporting them.
I think it is the only way but I fear we have just seen the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a sad time that I even have to write about this. Can’t the days of decency and respect to others please return? It’s at times like this that I am utterly guttered that this is likely done by an Australian. We aren’t like that. We don’t do this to our mates, whether we know them or not. It’s un-Australian.
What do you think can be done to stop the trolling? Is it the government’s role or Facebook or the community as a whole? Keen to hear your thoughts.