Facebook user Kelly McGurk is mindful of the risks associated with social networking sites.
Facebook user Kelly McGurk is mindful of the risks associated with social networking sites. Renee Pilcher

Nasty networking

FACEBOOK and other social networking sites have created a new problem for police and it's getting out of control, local officers say.

Gympie police now deal with a growing number of complaints from residents of all ages claiming they've been harassed, humiliated or threatened online.

Turning your computer off is an old-fashioned solution recommended by "old school" officers, but rest assured, all complaints are dealt with seriously by investigating officers.

It is a serious offence to use any communication device to menace another person, with a maximum penalty of three years in prison for a person found guilty of the offence.

Officer in Charge of Gympie Police, Acting Senior Sergeant Terry Kennedy, said the procedure followed by police once a complaint was received began with a visit to the alleged offender. He said once police spoke with the "other party", a caution was given the first time.

"We negotiate with them for the harassment to stop and explain there's no use denying their actions because it's all recorded on the computer," he said.

"Even if defamatory material is deleted, computer forensics experts can still recover the data from the hard drive."

While the warning was prompted by a complaint about a Facebook account being hacked by a "friend", the majority of offences involve mobile phones or the internet to post hurtful messages on social networking sites, send repeated unwanted messages, exclude someone from an online group or create fake social networking profiles or websites that are mean and hurtful.

Gympie Times


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