Editorial: The darker side of Facebook

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 09/11/2012

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OPINION: Sometimes it's too late, the damage and hurt is already done.

Social media websites, particularly Facebook, were set up so friends, colleagues and organisations could freely share information about themselves or their products.

Users control what they view and information about themselves.

Well, that's the theory anyway.

There are plenty of Facebook pages that lurk on the darker side of humanity. These pages are vile. They represent, as a colleague here at the Standard succinctly put it, "the worst of the internet".

At a local level, we had a page that named people and rated their sexual prowess, among other things, such as whether someone had a sexual infection. The anonymous (read: gutless) posts served no other purpose than to ridicule and belittle people.

Yet, more than 1000 people "liked" the page and kept it going, until it was shut down on Wednesday night.

These type of pages are prevalent and absolutely nasty. By nature, people like gossip, they always have.

But putting gossip/lies online about people is not the same. It immediately escalates the situation and the information spreads rapidly.

By the time any action is taken to remove a post or a comment, the damage is done.

Sadly, this is a symptom of our modern society, and even more sadly, there's little sign that it's all going to magically go away any time soon.

The fact that people can set up pages and make posts anonymously, as in this case, makes people more bold than they usually would be.

The separation from reality makes them think they can do anything.

It is a scourge and the best that people can do is either ignore the sites or report them to the site administrators, or in extreme cases, the police.

On a practical level there is plenty of good advice out there, too.

If you feel like you need to know more about what you should and shouldn't do or say, visit a site like netsafe.org.nz.

It's less than a week until Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, The Duchess Of Cornwall, visit Manawatu. While royal visits may not carry with them the same amount of lustre as they once did, the monarchy and its senior members still have a loyal following.

There will be plenty of interest surrounding their day in the region, not just from locals, but from people all around the world. And beyond the fact the couple are visiting, it's also a great chance to showcase our region to the rest of the world.

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- Manawatu Standard

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