If Tasmania Police struggles to protect their staff from defamatory and slanderous comments on social media, how must the average person in the community feel when exposed to similar comments?
There have been high profile cases in Australia where people have died following repeated bullying via social media.
Model and presenter Charlotte Dawson died in 2014 after horrific abuse via Twitter, and the nation mourned alongside the Everetts when their daughter Dolly died after being tormented by cyberbullies.
Online bullying and harassment can trigger and/or add weight to people’s poor mental health.
If the posts fail to hit the mark and not elicit a reaction, there is still the reputational damage comments can have on anyone regardless of their job or position in the community.
Facebook has been in the news this month about community standards and policies.
The company was slammed when it failed to remove a video of a man killing himself. A friend had reported the video, but Facebook initially said the post didn’t breach its community standards.
By the time the post was removed the damage was done.
This week celebrities boycotted the social media giant – on Facebook and Instagram – for 24 hours as a protest against hate speech spread on the sites.
The aim was to have the profits reduced over the 24 hours due to celebrities not posting and attracting an audience.
Back in Tassie and the community standards for Facebook continue to be challenged with baseless comments that attack and defame police officers left online. Even when reported, Facebook replied to say the posts did not breach standards.
There has been tremendous digital progress – both in crime and policing.
Tasmania Police has rolled our body cameras and now use drones.
Criminals are using computers to steal identities and money, abuse children through pornography and defame and slander people, including strangers.
If the comments and allegations that appear on various Facebook pages, some claiming to be a media/news page, were published via a recognised media outlet, like The Examiner, then strict defamation laws would apply.
There is a clear gap in the law, in the policing of cyberbullying, in the procedures and stakeholder relationships within some workplaces and Facebook’s community standards failing to meet community expectations.