Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Vile Facebook page just beggars belief

The internet has brought undeniable benefits from online shopping to information retrieval and the ability to contact friends around the world at minimal cost.

But, as with any asset, it is open to abuse and this newspaper yesterday uncovered one of the most sickening examples imaginable.

A fake entry was set up on the Facebook social networking site purporting to be a tribute to murdered Fermanagh tot Millie Martin. Comments about the baby - too vile to be reproduced - were posted along with sectarian rants against Irish people. The site was set up just hours after a man appeared in court accused of killing Millie and duped innocent people into leaving well-meaning messages alongside the other abhorrent content.

It beggars belief the depths of depravity to which some people will sink. To mock the death of a little baby is surely the lowest behaviour imaginable. Sadly, the Internet provides a forum and an attraction for such reptilian louts.

Facebook is to be commended for acting swiftly to remove the entry when notified about it. However, this incident highlights one of the great challenges of the modern digital age - how to effectively police the internet.

Unlike traditional media outlets like newspapers, radio and television, cyberspace is a wide open forum where all sorts of content can be posted with very little redress available to those who are offended, libelled or subjected to sick tirades. It takes very little expertise to hide the true identities of those intent on making mischief.

Reputable sites will take precautions to minimise abuse and will react to unacceptable behaviour, but by that stage the damage can be done. In this case a family circle and community grieving over the death of an innocent baby have had their sorrow compounded in the most callous manner.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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