The Straits Times
Published on Sep 16, 2012

Aussie government to crack down on Internet trolls

Outcry over posting of abusive remarks after suicide bid by a victim


The Australian authorities have called for a crackdown on trolls - Internet users who post offensive comments on social media - after a television presenter who received abusive messages tried to kill herself.

Following a public outcry, the federal government urged Twitter to reveal the names of people who send "reprehensible" tweets, while New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher said trolls should have their "keyboards replaced with handcuffs". An online poll by Fairfax Media found that 80 per cent of people supported banning trolls from social media sites.

The controversy began after a well-known television presenter and former model, Ms Charlotte Dawson, was hospitalised last month after Twitter users targeted her with messages, including calls for her to "please hang yourself promptly".

Ms Dawson was bombarded with messages after she named a person who had sent abusive messages to one of her followers. The person, an employee of Monash University, subsequently lost her job. The ensuing tweets to Ms Dawson included one with a picture of a mutilated child, and others that said "Do the world a favour and go hang yourself" and "I speak for everyone in the universe: Bitch, you need to kill yourself".