Gigatown posts racist rant

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:31 25/07/2014
Farmlands
RACIAL SLUR: The beginning of the post by a Gigatown Blenheim administrator who makes insensitive anti-Muslim comments.

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A member of the Gigatown Blenheim team has posted a tirade of anti-Muslim comments on its Facebook page.

The comments first appeared on the site on Tuesday afternoon about 4pm but were removed later that night.

The Marlborough Express has viewed the post, which is more than 300 words long.

The person begins by joking that he might "risk international uproar" but thought "open-minded" people might have a "wee giggle" at his post.

The person goes on to poke fun at Muslim culture and claims people in all Muslim countries are unhappy. The Express understands the post received some critical responses before it was removed.

Gigatown Blenheim uses the site as part of its campaign to win Blenheim the fastest internet speed in the southern hemisphere.

Gigatown Blenheim spokeswoman Debbie Carter said she had not seen the post but the administrator responsible told her it had been a joke. The comments were deleted by the administrator after 10pm when someone complained. Carter said the person had apologised for the comments.

"We don't want to be associated with anything like that," she said. "We distance ourselves from any racist or political comments."

A Blenheim man who complained about the post said it was indefensible.

"This kind of post on a community site which seeks to show Blenheim as a progressive community is simply outrageous.

"The post was disrespectful, insensitive to the current conflicts in Gaza."

It highlighted the downside of social media, he said.

"There are certain people in town who have worked out that they can damage by posting pretty much defamatory misrepresentations.

"Be careful what you say and how you say it. If you can't say it to someone's face, why say it on social media? These are the type of people that won't have face-to-face conversations."

The Marlborough Express sometimes removes comments from its website and Facebook page. The remarks are often unrelated to the subject streams they are posted on.

A social-media expert said people posting anonymous, disparaging online comments should be banned and blocked.

Social Guy director Mark Shaw said people and business were vulnerable to attack on social media from armchair observers.

"Quite often people post complete rubbish on social media, which leaves people vulnerable.

"Comments I have seen are downright defamatory and racist."

It was difficult to control, though, as people who were blocked or banned often created fake Facebook accounts under another name, Shaw said.

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Comments crossing social boundaries should be reported to site administrators, Shaw said.

Otago University applied science social-media expert Dr Mark McGuire said whole nations were debating defamation on social media but little had been achieved.

"We are in an environment where it is difficult to know who is behind a site or group and whether it is moderated by a person who has an agenda or not. It is best to draw an understanding of a site or group and get a sense of what is right and believable. It is like someone starting an argument for the sake of it. The more responses you give feeds the beast. It is best at some stage to withdraw from engagement." heather.simpson@mex.co.nz

- The Marlborough Express

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