Welshman groomed Australian boys

A Welsh man has been arrested as part of an international police investigation into online paedophilia.

South Australia Police said that the man, who resides in the United Kingdom, is being investigated for grooming two boys from the Australian region, aged 11 and 13. The man is what is called a chatroom bob, or bob, which is the name for someone who tries to seduce others online for their own gratification. The man is alleged to have spent a significant amount of time befriending the boys to lure them into performing indecent acts via webcam.

Known as ‘cyberhickery,‘ bobs are people who spend a long time telling people things which give them confidence, and then break that trust by getting people to do things that they wouldn’t want to under normal circumstances.

The bob was found out when a parent of one of the digital teens contact the police, following the bob trying to blackmail them by gaining access to their Facebook account. Damian Powell is the Superintendent of SA Police and explains what happened next. “He then threatened to release the images that he captured through his webcam of them to their friends on Facebook,” he claims. “It is quite an insidious and sinister act exploiting, I guess, the trust and vulnerability of children who are online.
What we were able to do with the use of our specialist skills and tools was identify firstly that they came from the United Kingdom, and secondly whereabouts they generally are located, and through the AFP’s international liaison network, work with South Wales police to bring to a head the arrest of the man overseas.

Headteacher criticised for ‘draconian’ disciplining of ‘cyber-trolls’

An Australian high school headteacher has been criticised by a British Internet trolling expert for his attacks on free speech.

Jonathan Bishop, who founded the Swansea-based Trolling Academy said Steve McLuckie of Southport State High School should be ashamed of himself for expelling pupils who troll, “This reminds me of when I was younger and would be abused and assaulted simply for telling a telling authority figures I thought they were wrong, or other otherwise not willing to accept what they said with coercion,” he said, “Steve McLuckie is being no different to the backwards governments in parts of the East shutting down websites where they disagree with the content.

Bishop, who was subject to an unsuccessful ‘behaviour modification‘ training programme he received as a child because teachers said he had “challenging behaviour” when he expressed his own opinion instead of adopting the teachers’ said Steve McLuckie’s approach would have the opposite effect to which he intended, “Steve McLuckie is not going to create a tolerant environment by expelling pupils who exercise free speech and most are likely to ‘unlike’ the school’s Facebook page” he said, “the only way Steve McLuckie will get discipline is through clear and enforced incentives and rewards, not through draconian birch-like abuse.

Steve McLuckie hit back defending his actions, “It is not a private page, this is a public page,” he fumed, “The comments are inappropriate and will not be tolerated,” he angrily added.

Some parents agreed with Bishop saying Steve McLuckie is going too far and limiting their children’s right to free speech. But Steve McLuckie was unrelenting, “I am not backing away from this,” he said defensively, “We are taking a stand. This type of bullying and harassment should not be tolerated,” he raged.

Examples of free speech on Facebook included students saying which teachers were their favourites. One mother was completely disgusted at Steve McLuckie’s dictator-like actions reminiscent of Nazi-Germany, “They haven’t done anything wrong,” she said, “They have posted on a Facebook site – so what.

Australian Greens make Trolling regulation warning

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam has ‘welcomed’ the overnight discovery of the practice of Internet trolling, but questioned calls for further government regulation as the solution.

Exposing antisocial and abusive behaviour (online or offline) is probably going to be positive in the long term,” he said, “We don’t support bullying or hate speech, and it’s good to shine a spotlight on some of the cowardly behaviour that’s become normalised online. However, this is hardly a place for additional government intervention.”

Senator Scot Ludlam thinks creating new laws for online abuses when offences already exist is a waste of time

Internet trolling has become a hot issue in Australia, where Internet trollers are called “cybertroll” with the abuse on Twitter of two high profile celebrities. However, Ludlam think regulation is not the answer. “It’s ironic that the same media platforms that ran a ‘freedom of speech’ campaign against media reforms (which would only impact on the power of the largest media proprietors) are now demanding a legislated crackdown on the behaviour of individuals online,” he said, “They are the same platforms that have stayed almost completely silent in the face of Government proposals to spy on the communications of every Australian, and are the same ones that publish some of the most vitriolic and abusive comments.

Jonathan Bishop is an internet trolling expert who runs the Crocels Trolling Academy, which provides advice on dealing with trollers and also dealing with malicious claims of trolling. He said, “Senator Ludlam is right that there has been too much concentration on throw away comments that are common in pubs, and not enough on the real abuse against people by bigots on the grounds of the disability or ethnic background for instance.

Ludlam believes there is little difference between most Internet trollers and traditional sensationalist media, “Trolls seek attention in the same way shock jocks and tabloids seek ratings and circulation,” he said, “through controversy, provocation and emotional manipulation. It’s doubly ironic that the media outlets now leading the anti-trolling campaign are the same ones that have done so much to degrade the quality of public debate on their own platforms.

Ludlam confirmed the long held view of Bishop that more laws dedicated to Internet trolling are not needed, as existing laws are up to the job, “This country already has laws to deal with harassment, defamation, and hate speech,” Ludlam concluded.

TV personality speaks out over flame trolling

An Australasian TV personality has become one of the latest victims of flame trolling on Twitter.

Charlotte Dawson was targeted by anonymous flame trollers, known as cyber trolls in Australia and New Zealand and also Masked Snerts in academia.

The flame trollers set up on Dawson, with vile comments that she felt she could do nothing about. “It just triggered that feeling of helplessness when the trolls got to me,” she said, “They got the better of me and they won.”

Charlotte Dawson was on the verge of a tragic decision because of abuse from flame trollers

Jonathan Bishop, who is an Internet trolling expert and former politician said when one is in the public eye you quickly need to develop coping skills, “I had no end of things said about me when in public life,” he said. “You have to learn to enjoy the attention from trollers as much as they do, and then develop strategies.”

Bishop used to use an online community called Pontypridd Town, and statements like “is this man fit to be town councillor,” were even posted by other public figures, in this case Karen Roberts, who was the Chair of the Pontypridd Liberal Democrats.

Karen Roberts flame trolled Jonathan Bishop with personal attacks when he was a town councillor.

Dawson agrees, but still has reservations, “You do have to have a thick skin and you do understand that no matter what you do,” she said. “Even if you’re Mother Teresa, people are still going to hate you just because they think you’re ugly or they don’t like the sound of your voice,” she said.

Bishop says that while blocking can be effective at stopping abuse, one should consider “feeding the trolls” by playing them at their own game. “You are not going to catch out a troll calling you an idiot by flaming them back,” he said. “They only feel they have won by getting a rise out of you.”

Dawson and Bishop as public figures have regular bouts of helplessness and suicidal ideation, “If people are wanting you to kill yourself and you are somebody who has previously tried to end your life it’s very, very easy to feel like that’s exactly what you want to do,” Dawson said. Some hardened trolls like junior biology lecturer Paul Myers (also known as PZ Myers) actually encourage their website users to target those at risk of suicide, and often the victims of these sick miscreants are powerless to do anything. Bishop was once of Myers’s targets simply for calling himself a polymath.

Bishop currently runs a course on ‘Becoming a Better Troll’ and ‘Internet Safety Awareness’ at the Crocels Trolling Academy. The courses provide opportunities for people to develop strategies and tactics for both not “feeding the troll” to avoid conflict and also “feeding the troll” in order to get the upper hand. He has found that Twitter can be the best place to get the upper hand against trollers because the trolls can be replied to individually with different tactics in a way that forums or chatrooms don’t allow.