You know things have gone awry when you’re filling out police reports over death threats made on your Facebook page…..
I had posted a lovely photo to my page and then everything turned to shit. I ended up hovering over my phone and laptop like a crack dealer, pouncing on it every time it buzzed a notification.
Every comment on that photo was a potential spark that could ignite a bushfire. I was stamping out flames for at least 48 hours.
This is how it all started….
This photo was posted at 7.30am on a Sunday morning (see part 1 of this story here).
When I checked Facebook a couple of hours later it had about 80 likes and a few lovely comments. I was really happy that so many people liked it and that it was giving some comfort after a really horrid week.
I set off to do some Christmas shopping and totally forgot about the photo until I checked the time on my phone at about 1pm and saw about a bazillion notifications.
THE TROLLS COME OUT
I was rudely snapped back to reality. My tummy got all churny like when you’re little and you’re in trouble and waiting for your punishment. I could sense this was bad.
I saw a message from Meredith (who took the photo) asking me to block a man who had been posting awful things on the photo.
My heart was beating thud, thud, thud and the air was knocked out of my lungs.
I felt SO dumb. Not once had I considered the fact that people might start to troll the photo. Seriously. It hadn’t entered my mind.
I was standing in the middle of Bed Bath N’ Table. I didn’t want to read the comments next to a pile of obscenely expensive towels, so I ran straight back to my car and drove home.
Do you know what it’s like to drive home in a state of panic because of a photo you’ve posted online? Panicking at the thought of things getting out of hand? Panicking that you might not be able to control it? Panicking that you are responsible for upsetting people? It’s pretty fucking stressful.
I flew into the house and grabbed my laptop. The photo had been liked a couple of THOUSAND times. There were hundreds of comments. I saw the most recent comment and it made me sick to my stomach.
I kept scrolling and found more. The comments were heinous. Awful stuff. Threatening, aggressive, violent stuff. People threatening to burn and kill other people. “Blowing people up” seemed to be a theme. I felt violated and shaky.
Without even thinking, I hit delete. Again and again and again. I deleted each and every one. I stopped reading the comments fully. If I could see in the first few words that it was a negative comment, DELETE. I was banning people every couple of minutes.
Every comment that attacked another person. Every comment that argued back with someone else. Anything that looked like it could start an argument. GONE.
I felt unbearably sad about the world. WHAT THE VERY FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
I added a disclaimer to the photo that I wouldn’t allow those sorts of comments and every person would be reported.
Then people turned on me. I started copping abuse for trampling people’s right to Free Speech….
So yes, I deleted anything I deemed inappropriate, violent or threatening. And I’d do it again. Because the world really is horrible enough. We don’t need yet another place on the internet for people to be fuckwits to each other. Not on my watch.
NASTY WHITE BOYS
The most hateful comments came from the anti-Muslim side. I did delete some ‘pro-muslim’ comments that were just silly and banned one commenter who went too far – but that was one out of about 50 people I banned in the first day. The anti-Muslim commenters were vicious, hateful, violent, scary, ugly. They were the only ‘extremists’ I saw. Extremists named Brett, Rich, Mike, Keith… Almost every last one was male and white Australian.
It was shameful and idiotic. To spew bile about the ‘violent regime’ of Islam by threatening to “burn them all”… Do people not understand how stupid that makes them look? How it makes them look just as bad?
To be fair, I’m pretty sure most of those people were a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Know what I mean? A few stars short of a southern cross tattoo. A few tinnies short of a slab. A few fags short of a pack of Winnie blues…..
On Monday, I’d had enough and applied a filter to the comments. Anyone using the words extremist, terrorist, hate, kill, death etc…. those comments wouldn’t be published. Unfortunately I didn’t account for the fact that trolls, racists and bigots are generally pretty dumb and can’t spell, so their comments keep slipping through the net. They’re the type that write u for you and dem for dem. And fucken. Honestly, if you’re going to swear, swear properly. (Truly, have you ever met an educated bigot?)
The photo was picked up (stolen) by a number of different media outlets – most completely failed to credit Meredith for taking the photo. Some made it look as if they’d taken the photo. I fumed at the gall of these large media organisations who swipe content and pass it off as their own. They ride the viral wave and make buckets of money off other people’s work. Not cool.
THE REAL PEOPLE BEHIND THE PHOTO
More than anything, I worried that as the photo burnt across the internet, it would eventually reach the Bride, Manal. She was the reason I deleted every last nasty comment. There was NO FUCKING WAY I was letting that beautiful creature anywhere near my page only to read hate, anger and bigotry. She would only see love, peace, appreciation and compliments about how gorgeous she looked. Full stop.
edit: I’ve been contacted by Manal’s brother Mohamed who says their family is overwhelmed by the attention but happy. He also mentioned they are grateful for how I dealt with the haters and even checked to see if I was ok. How bloody considerate are they?!
I was also worried sick about Meredith and hoped she didn’t think I was a complete arsewipe. She so graciously let me share her photo and then this happened…. I regretted ever posting it.
In the end, I have no idea how many people saw, shared, liked or commented on the photo. I’ll never know. Definitely more than a million…
Not that it made any difference to this blog! I doubled my Facebook followers (almost certain to lose them all once they realise I’m not a political activist – just a mummy blogger) and saw a tiny spike in page views on my blog. So it was an awful lot of fuss for nothing.
Oh, except for the thousands who saw it and loved it. And found comfort in it. That, I guess, makes it all worth it??
P.S I did get one truly excellent message in my inbox. At first I was shocked and upset. Then I read it a second time and found a typo which made me giggle. Then I read it a third time and found the whole thing quite funny. Then I replied and couldn’t stop laughing. “Sally” had been so incensed by my post she clicked on to my blog. She presumably clicked through to read a few posts to get a feel of how pointless and worthless my blog was. Who on earth spends all that time on a blog they hate so much!? Thanks heaps for the clicks Sally! You’re great! Besides, I’ve always wanted to be a Princess.
Why don’t you head on over and like The Thud on Facebook so you can keep up with all the crazy viral shit that goes on 😉