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With the huge increase in the use of social networking, from keeping up with friends and family to business promotions and marketing, the one thing that has not kept up, is safety and security.

“When an elderly woman can phone me about this issue, sitting in her home in fear, and nothing can be done, we indeed must act.”

Our children are both subjected to harassment and bullying, on top of the risk of grooming by some very sick people. But in recent months, I have received calls from supporters of all ages, who are now becoming targets of what are now being labelled “internet trolls”.

One page that has taken a love of all things Mark Aldridge has shown my family and I the true face of all that is becoming wrong with the lack of accountability that is now “Social Networking”.

Photos of my children, friends, parents and supporters now come under attack, vile language, threats and posts that simply only go to prove these people have serious mental illness, yet there appears to be nothing we can do to either close the page down or address the behavioural issues being exposed.

Ignoring and blocking these people has not even had the desired effect, in the most they have become more angry and as with many recent complaints I have been privy to, the more they get away with the more empowered they feel. In recent cases all over SA, these “trolls” start taking their hate into the real world, by the use of blocked caller threats, pay phone SMS threats and the like.

In recent weeks I have met with SAPOL on the issue, as have many people I know about the very same page and the people that are members, and nothing can be done, Face Book itself does not offers and services in this respect, neither do the federal police.

The Australian cyber crimes task force are also underfunded and resourced, leaving victims with no avenues of justice, let alone the feeling of safety in their own homes.

The common issue for all involved is anonymity, who are these people, now many profiles do they have, are they even in Australia, this is where SAPOL can do very little, because the profile used to bully or harass, is usually set up in a few minutes using an email address just as easily obtained.

The use of the latest IP tracking again can be side stepped as these bullies learn the many ways of avoiding detection.

Cyber bullying, fraud, identity theft, child grooming, racial taunts, personal threats and intimidation, should never become acceptable practice, so dare we sweep such important issues into the too hard basket?

I would never indulge myself in the idea of stemming free speech, but protecting hate speech is another issue altogether, being in the public arena, and sticking my head up, indeed makes me a target, but it is the children, the elderly and the vulnerable that indeed need to be protected.

The simple application of identity proof when obtaining new email addresses or indeed with the opening of a social networking profile appears the only avenue to ensure some accountability, and would easily provide the Australian police with the resources they need to address the concerns being voiced all over the country.

Being accountable for ones actions in public surely should carry over to ones actions on line, and that will never occur while a person can become me in a matter of minutes so to speak, which has indeed been one of many problems I have faced in recent weeks.

Federal legislation could easily be amended to help overcome the power of anonymity with in social networking, as much as I am sure some will always find a way to circumvent such safety ideals, in the most it would be a big step forward to addressing this increasing social issue, bringing with it some long overdue accountability.

If we as a nation don’t start somewhere, we will get nowhere!

I can provide many examples, screen shots and complaints, from people of all ages, which all go to clearly show change is necessary.

Mark M Aldridge

Independent Candidate for Wakefield

08 82847482 / 0403379500

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