Aren’t we better than this?

October 10, 2012 11:05 am

When did social media become so violently antisocial? 

It’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves around the office over the past few weeks, and one that we’re hoping will spark some kind of intelligent discussion about how to remove the social media hate-speak that is becoming all too common across networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The murder of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher was something that hit home like a blow to the stomach, all over the country. The outpouring of social media support for her family and the efforts to find her were something we could all be proud of as a community. Then, in the aftermath of her death and discovery, the march that took place through Brunswick was a humbling display of solidarity, and, again, an example of positivity and love in the face of tragedy.

And then…

Jill Meagher’s murder has brought out the best – and worst – in social media users

As overwhelmingly supportive as the ‘Find Jill Meagher’ Facebook page had been, something turned. The anger we all felt at the senseless violence of the crime spilled over, with people taking to the site in their thousands to express their rage and hurt. The problem, of course, was that social media has the potential to severely damage legal proceedings, and even amidst police and page admin warnings that content on the page could actually pervert the course of justice, the rage continued.

Sadly, the hostility contained in the comments and threats against Jill Meagher’s alleged murderer was so vicious that it was possible to draw parallels between the violence Jill experienced and the violence the public were now wishing upon her attacker. Make no mistake – the anger everyone felt at the tragic loss of life and violation of an innocent young woman was justified; but surely, we’re better than this extreme, violent reaction? Even if it’s only expressed in words?

Vitriolic social media content

Next there was the Alan Jones debacle, in which he declared to a crowded room that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father – a man she had only very recently farewelled after a long illness – had ‘died of shame’. The wish to see him brought to account for such cruel and insensitive comments was, as with the case of Jill Meagher, an admirable reflection on our values as a society. Yet no sooner had Jones’ sponsors begun withdrawing their advertising support from his show than the vitriol directed at him online began to get out of control.

Jones’ subsequent claims that he has been the victim of cyber-bullying might seem ironic to some, but there is some truth to them. Think of how many times you have heard Alan Jones described in extremely colourful terms by someone (ironically) claiming he needs to be stopped for talking to other people in the same offensive manner?

Is Alan Jones a bully – or the bullied?

Malcolm Turnbull argued that the alleged cyber-bullying was in fact a symptom of Jones ‘getting a dose of his own medicine’. His comments have been widely accepted because he is known as a mild, measured man whereas Jones is perceived as a loose cannon. But can you imagine the outcry had Jones suggested that another victim of cyber-bullying deserved it????

For their parts, many of the Facebook pages that have sprung up in opposition to Jones have attempted to curb the hate-speech from posters on their page. For example, Destroy the Joint, a page ‘for people who are sick of the sexism dished out to women in public roles in Australia, whether they be our Prime Minister or any other woman’, posted this yesterday morning:

Since Alan Jones took to the airways this morning this page has received a very large volume of comments from people best described as trolls. These trolls have made deeply offensive comments that have now escalated into threats of violence. These comments are completely unacceptable – hate speech is exactly what we stand against. We support freedom of speech but in light of the nature of these threats and comments we have taken the decision to temporarily restrict posting on this page. We have also taken screen shoots and we will be passing these onto the police. We thank the wonderful DtJ community for your support – we will never give up speaking up and standing up to sexism.

Yet these efforts by page admins – like those by the admins of the ‘Find Jill Meagher’  page – have hardly stemmed the flow of social media comments that use the same sort of hateful speech as the very thing they are protesting against.

Surely we’re better than this?

Online mob mentality

Julia Gillard has been repeatedly abused online

Just yesterday, more offensive comments were directed at Julia Gillard during her Facebook Q&A – some of them even referencing her father’s passing or calling her vile and unrepeatable names. More proof, if it were needed, of the mob mentality and copycat characteristics that runs the risk of ruining social media for everyone.

Social media gives people the chance to have intelligent discussions with those we do not normally have access to. If, 15 years ago, the prime minister of Australia had opened a meeting and offered to answer any questions people had, do you think we would have acted so disgracefully? Why are we wasting these opportunities afforded us, and instead of offering informed, civil debate, reducing ourselves – and the process – to something no-one wants to take seriously?

How much longer do you think it will take before we see a reversal in the number of people who even use social media as a serious forum? If we don’t start replacing violent hate speech with reasoned debate, conversations – at least the ones we should be taking part in – will no longer be accessible through social media.

Social media has immense power to change society and effect real-world improvements. It also has the potential to do the opposite, and the more of us who stand up and prove we are better than petty bullying and threats, the more chance we have of achieving the former and preventing the latter.


The Message is brought to you by Tick Yes – providing solutions for all your digital and content marketing needs.



  • Content Marketing News & Views Why Your Brand Needs a Podcast

    Why Your Brand Needs a Podcast

    Can you imagine speaking directly to a captive audience of potential customers? I’m not talking about the room of people you might find at a conference or seminar, but potentially tens of thousands of prospective buyers, listening to you from their home, on their way to work, during their lunch break or maybe even at the gym. This is the power of podcasting, and it’s one of the fastest growing and exciting marketing mediums available to businesses in 2017. It’s […]

    Read more →
  • Content Marketing Features The Power of Personalised Content

    The Power of Personalised Content

    With the incessant growth of digital communications, newspapers and other publishers have been forced to come up with new ways to tell stories. Companies that are not in the publishing business, but use content as a part of their marketing strategy can learn a lot from these emerging storytelling tactics. When it comes to personalised content, gamification is king. The more you can learn programmatically – primarily using data for better targeting – about your customer or audience member, the […]

    Read more →
  • Features Social Media The Latest Social Media Fails

    The Latest Social Media Fails

    There’s one big flaw that all brands have that no one likes to talk about: they’re run by fallible, emotional and sometimes careless human beings. Every once in a great while, these humans make mistakes—they slip up all too publicly on their brands’ social media properties. When this happens, most us watch the disaster unfold with bewilderment at the stark stupidity of it all. While these mistakes often create backlash for brands, and sometimes a bit of recovery work, they’re not necessarily […]

    Read more →
  • Features News & Views Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

    Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

    We’ve all seen those marketing campaigns that went, oh, so very wrong. They’re often around to clog up our social media feeds for a couple of days, garner some negative attention, and then they die off. But the real question for marketers is: how damaging was the campaign to the brand? We’re taking a look at whether or not all publicity is good publicity, and whether you can expect to recover from a serious popular culture blunder. Everyone’s Goal: Good […]

    Read more →
  • News & Views Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    Don’t Forget to Pat the Dog

    A few days ago I posted an article called The Stupidity of Silence where I suggested that ceasing all contact when someone doesn’t give you what you want is a really dumb strategy. Here’s another one. We’re looking to sell our house at the moment. Part of the process is interviewing real estate agents. Theirs is an incredibly competitive business where all they’re offering is reputation and the perceived ability to persuade people to buy. The first agent who came […]

    Read more →
  • Content Marketing How to Make Your Content Actionable

    How to Make Your Content Actionable

    Content is not a magical formula that will make your target audience find your product and then breathlessly buy from you. The power of actionable content comes from your ability to attract the right audience, enabling them to interact with you and then to elevate that relationship to the next level i.e. for them to become a customer. So, how do you make your content actionable? Most importantly, you must give the reader, viewer or listener a sense of how they […]

    Read more →
  • News & Views The Stupidity of Silence

    The Stupidity of Silence

    It always astounds me when people in business don’t follow-up with a simple thank you email or even a note – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? – after we’ve had some type of interaction.

    Read more →
  • Email Marketing Features What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    What you Need to Know About Email Marketing for Mobile

    It’s no secret that smartphones and tablets can no longer be ignored by email marketers—and there aren’t many more marketers out there doing so. It is a massive part of customer communication and revenue, but do you know just how massive? The following statistics come from all corners of the globe, and from many different industries. While they keep changing everyday, some are quite shocking. Here’s a brief description of everything you need to know about the power of email […]

    Read more →
  • Digital Marketing Features How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    How to Reduce Your Media Spend & Achieve Better Results

    Digital marketing has changed the media landscape forever and marketing budgets are being spread across channels – mainly digital – that previously didn’t exist. The problem is that optimisation is not as simple as it was before; if you’re not careful, your spend can get out of hand. By optimising each of your channels, you can reduce your media spend and achieve better results – all the while proving a positive return on investment (ROI) for every dollar you spend. […]

    Read more →
  • Features News & Views Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Digital Marketing Lessons To Be Learnt From Donald Trump

    Donald Trump teaching you marketing lessons? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has made the race for the White House fascinating. And fascinating doesn’t happen by chance. Exceptional marketing combined with good old fashioned, in-your-face salesmanship are central to the success of his campaign – so far. So putting aside your opinion on his politics, let’s look at what can be learned from Trump’s ‘Making America Great Again’ campaign. Know Your Audience Contrary to the opinion […]

    Read more →