NRL Player Calls On Julia Gillard To Crack Down On Twitter Trolls After Attack

Either Twitter trolls are getting more and more brazen in their attacks on public figures, or public figures know that they can use awful comments as a lightning rod to get douchebags arrested and laws changed. That's what NRL footballer Robbie Farah has done, taking an attack on him straight to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, urging her to change online harassment laws after a troll got in touch to make some distasteful comments about his late mother.

Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The offensive tweet that sparked Farah's tirade, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, took aim at his late mother who lost a battle to pancreatic cancer earlier in the year.

First, Farah retweeted the offensive material, then he contacted Police to report the user before asking PM Gillard for a favour.

Here's how Farah's tweets went down after the trolling:

We all need to make a stand and get these scums off twitter. The laws are piss weak and people should be accountable for their comments 7:24pm, 9 Sep 12

Followed by...

we need @JuliaGillard to take some action and change these soft laws.people need to be accountable for their comments. #makeastand 7:36pm, 9 Sep 2012

And finally, NSW Premier (and a fan of the team Farah plays for) Barry O'Farrell got in touch to pledge his support:

We'll be following to see if this footballer's pleas to the PM lead to any sort of reform. In the meantime, don't be a douchebag on the internet. To anyone.

Do social media trolls deserve jail time?




    I have to deal with YouTube trolls on a daily basis. I always shoot them a quick insult on their YouTube pages, delete their comments and block them. It would work better to ignore and block on Twitter.

      Block and ignore is a great button, but closing your eyes and pretending mean people don't exist isn't really a solution. I don't think we can ever stop trolls, personally.

        The thing about this though is that the troll attacked his deceased mother. I don't think Farah would have cared as much if the attack was directed at him personally, but directing the attack at his late mother who lost a long battle with cancer he said...just scum. It's really, really poor form, and I agree something needs to be done about it.

        Trolling someone on an online forum is one thing, but this is on another level entirely. And the guy that made the original tweet would probably never say what he did to Farah's face either. The anonymity of the internet makes d!cks into even bigger d!cks.

          First off, this isnt trolling - trolling is where you have fun with someone, like paying out Mac users (like i do). What happened here was NOT trolling and should not be referred to it as such. It was plain bullying / harassment / abuse. Nothing less.

          Call it as it is.

            Trolling is trying to deliberately provoke a negative reaction from someone. That can be done any number of ways. You can call this bullying/harassment/abuse, but there's no doubt the guy that posted it was also trying to provoke a negative reaction. And he succeeded.

              And if they find him he will be prosecuted. Now that it is so public, they can't afford not to. He has to be made an example of. If they don't it will just encourage trolls.

            Trolling is trying to get the other person worked up for the lulz. If you're having a laugh while the other person gets worked up, you're trolling.

              ... which explains the trollface

        Name shame and allow mob justice to do its thing.

          Oh Goodie, that has worked so well in the past.

            If mob justice didn't work, why is it that the human race is still in existence? Before the 1900s that's all that justice was. You may not like it, but it works, because the mob is swift and brutal it is more of a disincentive to commit an act that is deemed inappropriate than the "justice system" we currently have. Where a pedophile and rapist can have their fun and be back out there in a few years to do it again.

              "Before 1900"? What? No. Laws a complex justice system existed before Egypt came into being. Your "mob justice" is idiots on the fringes and has never ever been a part of civilised society, quite the exact opposite in fact- that sort of thing has always indicated a breakdown in civilisation, in times of war, strife, revolution etc.

    Seems the offending account has been shut down already. Wonder what they'll do when they find out it was some 12 year old snot.

      I'd laugh so hard if it was a 12 year old girl obsessed with NRL.

    See the comments about Julia's Dad's death going around twitter? People are all basically dumb trolls.

    I think personal attacks should be stopped but trolling other things like forums and videos on youtube should be left alone. 1. Why would you even use twitter? 2. An internet without trolls would be boring.

      But twitter is a great source of quick news! I mean how else would everyone know that Morgan Freeman "is dead" /sarcasm

    These people are giving trolls far more influence and relevance than they deserve. After the arrest of several "offenders" in the UK, it always turns out to be some pathetic irrelevant on the other end, tweeting angrily at a world that wouldn't notice them any other way. To curb freedom of speech because of these people is ridiculous - trolls are an unfortunate part of the internet experience and offend pretty much everyone. Ignore them, harden up, abuse them back, whatever, but please spare us getting some grandstanding politicians involved to "fix" things. This is perfect Nicola Roxon crusade fodder - I'll take the trolls over that any day...

      Where is there any "curbing" of freedom of speech? If you would not be comfortable saying something to someones face then doing it anonymously over twitter just makes you a coward.

    ...welcome to the internet

      It's amazing how stupid people are, this has always been the way of the net, if you can’t handle criticism don’t make yourself publicly available for ridicule.

        As has been stated the comment wasn't directed at Farah himself. Farah's a professional footballer and he'd be used to copping criticism all the time. He probably wouldn't have cared if it was directed at him. But it was directed at his deceased mother.

        You can't tell me you wouldn't be upset if your mother died of cancer, then a few months later while you were still grieving the loss some d!ck made a sexually explicit comment about her. You'd probably smash their head in.

          yes and no, 1 i don’t have any emotional attachment to anyone in my family so easy enough for me to say get over it.

          As the same time the whole world knows that most people are dicks, these arent trolls, the people who do this are immature, probably very damaged people.

          lets say the gov’t make internet anonymity disappear, by responding this way and making a massive media fiasco over nothing they themselves are then becoming the bigger bully.

          think about it this way,
          A kid who thought it would be funny to call someone's dead mother a nasty name, will be harassed and ridiculed for most if not all their lives, what happens when because of that he grows up with no friends, cant get a job then decides to blame society murder 70 people one day? Who would you blame?
          The gov't for making the internet less anonymous?
          The people who harassed him?
          The managers who wouldn’t hire him based on comments made when he was a kid on the net?

            "i don’t have any emotional attachment to anyone in my family"

            You are a strange individual then, but I suppose if you've distanced yourself from your family for one reason or another over the years you could lack emotional attachment. Though, unless you had a massive falling out with them for some reason where neither party can forgive the other, I find it hard to believe you wouldn't be even the slightest bit upset if your mother or father or brother or sister died.

            I hope it doesn't, but if some tragedy like that happens in your family and it does not provoke any kind of emotional response from you, then I honestly worry about your sanity.

              I find people with attachments to there family strange individuals.

              I have attachements dont get me wrong, my partner, my friends.
              And yes if someone who knew them or had any sort of interaction in our lives said something like that, i'd more than likely "have word" with them in the parking lot.

              But some random on the net with no actual fact to back up there moronic claims why would that have any effect on me?

              personally i see my lack of overly emotional attachment as a good thing, i don't get offended by nothing, i don't hulk out and destroy people or things because they are "mean", im probably the happiest person i know, and that comes down to enjoying my life and not letting morons get me down.

                " i don’t get offended by nothing"

                Well that's good. Getting offended by nothing would be rather silly. Given there's nothing to be offended about.

            Being ridiculed and shunned would increase the incentive to NOT troll someone. Plus justice needs to be done.

          Quality of punishment should not reflect the Quantity of pain.

    There is probably an argument here for civil liberties etc... if someone did this to his face he'd probably react differently (read: not complain to the PM). I'm not advocating what trolls do but... rule 14 man rule 14.

    Solution: Harden the f*ck up, and quit feeding the godamn trolls. Normal adults don't go crying to the prime minister just because they have a case of hurt feelings. Hypersensitve idiots like this Farah character are going to ruin the internet for the rest of us. Protecting the feelings of immature footballers from immature 12 year olds is NOT good reason to censor the internet (which is what any "solution" would amount to).

    This particular troll had managed to get a response that they couldn't of even dreamed of. This kind of response is exactly what trolls WANT. That is what trolling is: baiting people in an effort to get them to throw a tantrum and then laughing at them when they do. You don't defeat trolls by responding to them, you defeat them by ignoring them. If you refuse to give trolls the response they want then soon enough they get bored and go away.

      So you're saying that you'll be totally cool and ignore someone without a second thought who makes a sexually explicit comment about your deceased mother, while you and your family are still grieving the loss. Okay.

      Here's the thing. If someone says it to you in person, you'll probably introduce their face to your fist. The anonymity of the internet however makes people think they can get away with this kind of thing scot-free. Troll or not, they need to learn that they can't.

        I make sexually explicit comments about my friends mothers all the time.
        Im with JoeBloe... Harden the F up.

          Yeah because saying something as a joke to your friends (who I assume have not lost their mothers to cancer recently) is totally the same as this situation.

            you assume incorrectly, my friends are my friends because they like and understand im brutally honest, about everything, i don't lie, i wont sugar coat my oppinion and if i dont like something or someone im not afraid to tell them.

            Personally an insult coming from a complete stranger would carry even less weight. Personally I'm not too fussed what some nobody that I don't know thinks.

            Certainly I wouldn't feel the need to reach out to the Prime Minister about some name calling.

          Having your friends make the comment is completely different to someone you don't know make the comment. If some random comes up to you and calls your mum a whore, would you just laugh?


              Because it's true, or because you have no self respect?

                Neither, its because the words of some random have no bearing or effect in my life in any way.
                why should i get riled up and punch some random bloke for spouting nonsense?

                The reason people get hurt by words is usually because there is a grain of thruth to them.

                  Not saying you should punch the guy, there's rarely any good excuse for resorting to violence. But that doesn't mean you should condone despicable comments being made about the people you care about either. Otherwise people could just walk around insulting others for no reason and without consequence, using the excuse that "they're only words", like that somehow makes it ok. It's worse in the case of social media, where your words can reach a much wider audience and remain there for much longer than a spoken insult.

        Sticks and stones...

      Yes +1 Like.
      People have become so annoyingly over-sensitive. Granted, the troll did something that was rude, mean and completely disrespectful. If it really bothers you to the point that you cannot ignore it, you should not be on a SOCIAL network, or at least not be posting things publicly for the internet to comment on. Grow up, there are always going to be people that are rude, but you get the bad with the good on social networks because they encourage people to say whatever they want. If you can't handle that, GTFO.

    LOL big tough NRL players crying over trolls.

    The idea of outlawing people saying mean things on the Internet is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Grow up.

    So is Julian Assange considered troll ? should we silence him and wiki leaks just because they say stuff that other people don't like. Bullying is crap but there is a huge difference between a few tweets, facebook post or youtube comment and an ongoing targeted campaign on personal level to break someone down and inflict mental harm on them .

    It's called harassment and there are already laws in place to manage that, the people losing there minds over a few snide remarks need to grow up, welcome to the real world.

    Go whine about your first world problems to some poor Syrian family that just got their house blown up along with one of their loved ones. I honestly can't believe this is news, some poor league player having a hissy fit over nothing, maybe every celebrity should start calling the police commissioner next time someone heckles them in public. Hell some guy made a comment about my shirt at the coffee shop this morning, that offended me , i'm going to call up the police right now.

    While I deplore these kinds of trolls, I have to admit I'm a little conflicted about whether to introduce punitive laws about this or not.
    The internet is - rightly I believe - the greatest example of freedom in our time. Yes, sometimes this is abused and sometimes that abuse is by people hiding behind the anonymity afforded them by the medium, but I don't believe that outweighs the benefits of anonymity on the internet.

    Internet anonymity, or the illusion thereof, gives a voice to the timid, the otherwise unheard - those members of society unsure of the value of their own opinions or self-worth.
    And yes, it also gives a voice to the trolls, the spewers of hate and vitriol. But surely this can be dealt with within the internet community without court cases and jail time?
    Perhaps I'm wrong. There's a saying in America that a liberal is just a conservative who hasn't been mugged yet. This isn't an invitation.

    There are a couple of dimensions here : Not everybody has the pull to get the feds onto once off hate mailers (which is what this is in the end) - smells awfully like an abuse of process to me, federal police time is better spent on more serious matters. Twitter is an open media (in its default state), and this guy is not exactly just entitled to just people telling him how great he is. Twitter already has mechanisms to deal with this without "stand over lynching tactics" being used. And lastly, most trolling may well be indicative of a mental issue from the sender or simple immaturity, and big tough footy player who doubtless gives as good as he gets in social settings on the verbal abuse front smacking this down smells more like bullying from his side. Personally I would like all the celebs off twitter - there I said it.

      "Personally I would like all the celebs off twitter – there I said it."

      I'd go one step further and just get rid of Twitter.

      Thank you, im glad im not the only one that thinks this way.

    "Someone just teased me on the internet, it's all over my iphone, ipad and macbook pro. I can't escape!" - First World Problems

      Your absolutely right, it is an abuse of power (well spotted)...

      That said, I've got a better idea.... I'm pushing for new legislation. I want a signed contract issued by every ISP to every internet access account holder in the country, that stipulates once they sign the contract they understand that they might be offended by someone of it's content are free not to utilise the service as to avoid the potential inflicted pain they may potentially suffer as result of using said service.

      Then there is no excuses:

      Victim: "i didn't know that there were mean people on the internets/world" ?
      Mean World: " Yes you did, you signed a contract"
      End of Story.

    Don't feed the trolls!! Once you start down the slippery slope of legislating free online speech who knows where it will end.

    Harden up.

    Who gives a toss what someone says on the internet, if it doesn't cause actual damage to reputation then it isn't defamatory, changing the law to make harassment a crime online will only clog court systems and cost the tax payer money. The laws as they stand are adequate. Stop crying.

    1. Freedom of speech also means being accountable for your words. All societies on Earth have boundaries on what is acceptable to say, and Australia's are more open than much of the world.

    2. Saying 'Harden the f**k up' is all well and good, but do we want to live in a world where such filth becomes the norm of communication simply because we should be tougher? I say no.

      1) Freedom of speech has nothing to do with accountability in fact it's the exact opposite. People should be free to say what they want without fear of persecution no matter how offensive some people might perceive it to be. Think carefully about that statement.

      2) The world we want to live in and the world we do live in are two different things. Getting from Point A to Point B is not exactly possible by any stretch of the imagination. You can't control people and without unbelievable consequences you can't control the internet and for that matter global communication. That fact has been proven time and time again., so yes asking sensitive people not participate to protect them is perfectly reasonable and asking people to be stronger is perfectly reasonable.

      Asking for communications filtering, control, monitoring, and restrictions on freedom of speech is paramount to supporting a nazi regime .

      there now i've said it.

    Is it just me? Or has he just made himself a massive target for trolls?

    Also I fkn HATE that tabloid media have started on about Trolls in the past couple of months. Most of the time they seem to have no fkn idea what a troll is. A troll is someone who goes out of their way to work others up for the lulz. A footy fan going out of their way to have a go at Farah isn't a troll, they're just a douche.

    Perhaps he should grow a pair, or join a network that isn't or can't be anonymous

    whatever happened to "stick and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me."?

    I don't really care for trolling myself, but what we're talking about here is an appeal the prime minister to punish people for being mean. Do we really want to make being mean a criminal issue?

    Don't get me wrong though, if its sustained with an intention to intimidate, it should be a criminal issue (and already is in fact).

    Dude grow a pair. You're probably not use to this because of the type of person you are ie. big tough NRL man who never backs down from fighting words, but just ignore them.

    I guess the NSW Police have plenty of time on their hands, as it's not as if there is a serious gun crime problem in Sydney, nor a drive by problem or other social issues that are effective ALL of society. And Barry goes for it, sends the Fed's to work of poor Robbie's feelings

    What's the bet this current Troll spreee the media is going on will effect pubic opinion of the internet filter?

    The unwashed masses will gladly take on a filter that's meant to stop all the nasties on the internet. They'll then realise that mean people aren't nasties that can be filtered by the nanny state so their feelings don't get hurt.

    My sympathies to Robbie for not only his loss, but also for taking things on the internet that seriously.
    The poor guy couldn't hack an extreme 'yo mama' joke.

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