Recently there has been a push by our federal government to change the way we interact online and the visual content we can access. Much has been said about the where's and why's and it's direct attack on our freedoms. The following post is the story of some events that occurred during the past two days for me and an option I believe would be the best for us all.
Last week a young girl aged 4 was attacked and killed by a pitt-bull in her own lounge room. This dog had entered the home she was in and began attacking another child, her mother intervened and the dog turned on the small child latched onto her mother's leg, killing her. Ayen Chol was too small to have much chance against the ferocity of the attack and the resulting death of such an innocent victim has resulted in an outpouring of grief from members of the public all over Australia. The story shocked and horrified many and as a result a Facebook Page was set up as an avenue for those wishing to convey their sympathy to the family of Ayan. All very innocent and a lovely idea.
I went there yesterday to offer my condolences as the story has resonated with me due to the fact I have a daughter of the same age. What I saw shocked me. There were graphic photos of pornography, photos of a baby next to a pitt bull with the heading 'My pitt bull's next meal', speeches about the little girl being a 'nigger who was better off dead so that she could not breed and produce more niggers' and many, many more hate-filled, racist taunts and slurs.
My first reaction was to want to shut the page off, press the 'HOME' button in the corner and leave such ugly thoughts and pictures somewhere I need not visit again. Then I hesitated. What could be achieved by simply ignoring what was in front of me and the hurt it would likely cause to the family of a small child? One who could not defend herself and lost her life so young. What were my options?
I could let Facebook know, by reporting the page (as many had begun to do) but from experience it's been shown to do nothing. I decided instead to report the items and the page to Crimestoppers. I felt a little foolish as nobody had been physically harmed as a result of this, no one was robbed (except perhaps the family, of peace) and it was unlikely that a physical crime would ever result. Still, I made the complaint.
Today I received a phone call from the Herald Sun. A reporter (Amelia) had been following up on the story of Ayan Chol and had been alerted to the fact that this page existed and was being hijacked by hate. The page is no longer there and she wanted to know details of what had been posted. The police are also following this up, as several of us took 'screen shots' and sent those along with the words of complaint to Crimestoppers. Even Amelia, who has covered many similar stories in the past, was shocked by some of the words and phrases used and expressed her sorrow that the family had been witness to it all. The Aunt of the young girl contacted me to thank me for my kind words as I had let them know that the views expressed were those of a very few sick individuals and they should not take them on board. The majority of Australians feel sadness and empathy for the family.
Hopefully a real resolution will come from all of this. Those responsible for writing the vile rubbish should be held accountable and measures need to be made to address this kind of thing. This is not an isolated incident. Every time a person is killed in tragic circumstances attacks are made via social media.
Along with that, teenagers are faced with hate filled attacks to their person from others on their own pages, fuelling self hatred and now becoming responsible in part for the jump in cases of teenage suicide. So, what's the answer?
Do we restrict the things we can look at? Do we close down parts of the web just in case? Do we give our politicians the power to pick and choose what we can do and how we can access certain things? No, no and no!
There is an easy answer. I have no idea how hard it would be to implement and I would welcome any input from any technologically advanced readers as to the process to make it so.
What we need is this: At the top of every computer screen in a recognisable position we should have a special button. It should look a bit like the red buttons used to start an alarm so that it can't be missed or mistakenly used. When you are on the net, on any site, any page, for any reason, and you see something that threatens, promotes violence or violently attacks gender, race, culture or religion....press the button. The act of doing that would then do two things. First it would take an instant screen shot. A screen shot is basically a photo of the page you are currently looking at, in it's current form. This part is essential as prosecution or follow up is almost impossible without this proof. The second thing it would do is send that photo directly to Crimestoppers. There should be a dedicated section of Crimestoppers especially for dealing with cyber crime (if there isn't already) and the proposed method of contact would negate the need for a second, dedicated hotline for this type of crime, while ensuring all relevant details were received.
Of course, if you believe the threat is imminent, call 000 immediately, but make sure you remember to press that red button as well.
This action could be taught in schools so that any cyber bullying could be addressed. It would allow people of all ages to feel safer on the internet if we had a 'REPORT' button. Our children could be taught to press that button if they are in a chat room and feel uncomfortable about the approaches from an individual, thus being helpful in reducing the risk of paedophilia. It would give you an element of control in an uncontrolled environment. The benefits are endless. The need for internet censorship would be negated and our freedoms could be maintained.
Of course I recognise that there would be some taking advantage of the button and many reports would be nothing of any real concern but the same already occurs with Crimestoppers and I still believe the benefits would outweigh the negatives.
As I mentioned before, I'm not sure how feasible this is but I have contacted a few individuals to try and get some answers. If there is any chance it could be done, I will be lobbying strongly for it's implementation. Who's with me?!