Charlotte Dawson’s tragic death on Saturday has prompted friends of the late television personality to launch an appeal petitioning governments on both a state and federal level to enforce tougher cyber bullying legislation under the aptly-titled initiative Charlotte’s Law.
At the time of writing, the petition has garnered over 20,559 signatures demanding governments “enforce the existing anti-bullying and harassment laws, and take action against those who violate them [and] that Social Media companies take a more active role in the prevention of cyber bullying, [including] more responsibility in monitoring posts of ‘hate’.”
Last year, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook agreed to a federal government protocol designed to curb vitriolic abuse on social media; Twitter are yet to sign up to the voluntary scheme, which includes guidelines for acceptable standards of use and complaint handling procedures.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Abbott government is now “considering a legally binding scheme with civil penalties, and has proposed a simplified cyber bullying offence that will make prosecution of trolls easier.”
Dawson, 47, long lead an campaign against the largely-anonymous hate speech perpetuated by her relentless Twitter trolls, whose repeated imploring that Dawson “go hang [herself]” resulted in her hospitalisation in 2012. Dawson’s outspoken defiance of her tormentors also resulted last year in her being dropped by her talent management agency, who found the “intimate insights” Dawson shared on social media regarding her struggles with mental illness “too honest [and] confronting.”
That something decidedly more positive like a change national legislation holding social media users responsible for their abuse might arise from Dawson’s untimely loss might be the most fitting tribute possible.
Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty