First rule of social media: don't feed the trolls
Wests Tigers rugby league captain Robbie Farah says he was shocked and appalled at a vile comment he received on his Twitter account last night.
Farah has provided a report to NSW Police who are looking into the matter. The comment referred to his mother Sonia Farah, who died in June from pancreatic cancer.
The anonymous Twitter user sent sick references about Sonia Farah directly to the Wests Tigers star.
Farah retweeted the message to his more than 27,000 followers. Fairfax has chosen not to repeat the offensive tweet.
The same Twitter troll sent several messages to Canberra fullback Josh Dugan yesterday. The account was shut down last night.
"I was very shocked and appalled to receive this vile comment on my Twitter account last night," Farah said in a statement today.
"While I'm all for banter on Twitter and people expressing their opinions, this was personal about my late mother who I am still grieving about."
"As a rugby league player, I understand people are going to have different opinions about me, my football club, or the weekend’s results, and I accept that by putting myself on Twitter.
"I know I will get positive and negative messages and I need to be accountable for the way I respond to these comments.
"However the Tweet I received last night clearly crossed the line and was personal abuse of the worst possible kind, not only to myself but my family.
"I understand NSW Police do have some powers to take action against people who post abusive comments online and I appreciate the efforts they are making.
"However I encourage the federal government to strengthen social media laws so that these cowards are made accountable for their actions and people can be protected from the kind of disgusting personal abuse that I have received."
O'Farrell writes to Swan
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has written to acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan about the issue of online bullying and harassment to seek a review of Commonwealth telecommunications laws.
Mr O'Farrell said to Mr Swan that any loopholes between state and federal legislation should be closed.
"There are clear offences under Commonwealth legislation for harassment and bullying using telecommunications devices," Mr O'Farrell said.
"Whether it happens to a showbiz personality, whether it happens to a footballer or someone down the street, we need to send the strongest possible message that it is simply not acceptable.
"It's cowardice and they need to understand that you can't make such comments without consequences."
Mr O'Farrell said he took online comments about himself "with a grain of salt" but said "ordinary people shouldn't have to deal with this crap".
He said anyone being bullied online should contact police.
Vile tweeter should be nervous: Premier
He said earlier the person who sent the tweet to Farah should be "a bit nervous" after Twitter users identified their IP address.
"I noticed that last night in a very short amount of time, others on Twitter had identified his ISP address, which is the computer from which this person had sent the message from," Mr O'Farrell told Triple M radio this morning.
"So I imagine he is a bit nervous today and so he should be.
"I'm going to speak to the Police Commissioner about this specific incident," Mr O'Farrell said today.
"But there's a bigger issue here and that is how the states [can] work with the federal government, particularly the Communications Minister, to see what can be done."
Mr O'Farrell also tweeted that he would work with "the Feds" to stop online abuse.
Replace keyboards with handcuffs: Police Minister
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher said at a press conference in Sydney this morning that Twitter trolls should have their keyboards replaced with handcuffs.
"Honestly, these clowns who hide behind their keyboards in their mothers' basements thinking that they can send offensive messages ... we've got to empower police with the ability to replace their keyboards with handcuffs, grab them by the ears from mummy's basement and take them down to the local police station and make them understand the offensive matters that they continue to raise on the internet [bear] a terrible price."
Mr Gallacher said NSW Police did have some powers to take action against online abusers, but there needed to be some support from the federal government in making the legislation tougher.
"I'll be updating letters today to the federal government to include the Farah matter and asking them to take those matters into consideration.
"Quite simply, these clowns have to realise that it's not acceptable to be sending offensive messages over the internet.
"They might think it's all fun and all the rest of it, but, you know what? They're hurtful; they could end up having very serious consequences for somebody who interprets them and goes and does something as a result of seeing one of these offensive messages.
"The people who send them, they would be the first to scream if they were on the receiving end of such messages.
"I just think it's morally reprehensible for people to think that they can sit there behind their keyboard and type up whatever they want, send a message out and it will all be viewed as a bit of a joke.
"It's no joke. The only joke is the person actually sending the message."
Farah demands action
Farah had called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to tighten social media laws after he received the message, demanding that the so-called Twitter trolls be held accountable for their actions. He also stated that he had contacted police over the matter.
"We all need to make a stand and get these scums off twitter," a clearly angry Farah said on the social networking site. "The laws are piss weak and people should be accountable for their comments."
He also sent a message directly to the Prime Minister. "We need @JuliaGillard to take some action and change these soft laws. people need to be accountable for their comments," he said.
Farah's grief was made public after he played a leading role for NSW in a State of Origin victory just days before his mother died.
He was also forced to withdraw from the Tigers' clash with Sydney Roosters after his mother died on the day of the game.
Farah's actions in highlighting the offensive tweet and taking a stand might prompt stricter laws around social media.
Last month, a 17-year-old boy was arrested in England for using Twitter to tell British diver Tom Daley - whose father Rob died of cancer last year - that he had let his father down by missing out on a medal.
That incident came four months after a Swansea University student was jailed for 56 days for posting racially offensive comments about the Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during an FA Cup tie in March.
The act of "trolling" has been a talking point in recent weeks after TV star Charlotte Dawson was admitted to hospital after persistent harassment. Normal 0 false false false EN-AU X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Wests Tigers rugby league captain Robbie Farah has made a statement about a vile comment he received on his Twitter account last night.