Monday, July 29, 2013

Mother of all rows: online group slams door on haters


Call to end the cyberbullying: Parenting community Babyology has taken a stand against "negative, abusive comments" on its Facebook group page. Photo: Phil Carrick

Vicious cyber bullying by mothers towards other mothers has prompted the managers of one of the largest Facebook communities for parents to tell the mama trolls to shut up or get off.

Babyology's decision to take a stand against vicious and personal comments on its 113,000 strong parenting group on Facebook seems to have won support.

By Sunday night, the post announcing the decision had nearly 2500 likes and close to 100 comments. Member Hilda McBrien agreed, saying there was no place for ''negative abusive comments. Well done, Babyology, for taking a stance.''

A statement from Babyology said: ''Unless you would make a comment face-to-face, then this negativity does not have a place in our online space."


After a sharp increase in negative, personal and mean comments, Babyology managing editor Mandi Gunsberger told Facebook group members: ''We have made the decision to remove at our discretion any negative or abusive comments made on our Facebook page.

''It's hard enough being a mum without strangers literally berating you for how (or how not) you keep your baby warm, or your decision not to breast feed past four months," she said

The final straw was when a Babyology staff member posted photos of her son's nursery, attracting such vicious comments staff were left shaking and in tears.

Last week, a former chief justice of the Family Court called on the federal government to make cyber bullying an offence punishable by jail time. Alastair Nicholson told the ABC state laws were ineffective at fighting harassment and bullying online. The New Zealand government is looking at making cyber bullying an offence punishable by up to three months' jail.

Ms Gunsberger said the site used to hide offensive posts in a way that did not tell the poster their comments only went to a few people.

''We decided recently that wasn't enough,'' she said.
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