Young Liberal’s suicide triggers cyberbully crackdown

CYBERBULLIES face a major crackdown as the Morrison Government looks to expand online protections following the suicide of a Conservative activist who had been copping vitriolic online abuse.

Wilson Gavin, 21, died on Monday morning, hours after video was posted online showing him confronting drag queens who had been reading stories to children at a public library.

Mr Gavin, who was openly gay, but actively campaigned against same sex marriage, was subjected to a barrage of criticism on Twitter and Facebook until his death at Chelmer.

News of the UQ Liberal National Club president's suicide has led to increased calls for new cyber abuse laws that extend current protections for children to adults.

It also sparked a Twitter backlash with Dawson MP George Christensen quitting the platform and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry saying her office barely used it because it was "toxic".

Federal eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant urged "extreme caution" linking online abuse and suicide but said technology and social media could enable "targeted vitriol, fuelled by hatred and prejudice".

Federal e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant backs a push to better protect adults from cyberbullies. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
Federal e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant backs a push to better protect adults from cyberbullies. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

"This is another devastating reminder that hurtful words and actions can have very real and devastating impacts on young people," she said.

She backed the government's push to introduce a new cyber abuse scheme for adults that would allow authorities to pull down vicious material and punish trolls.

Communications and Cyber Safety Minister Paul Fletcher said Mr Gavin's death highlighted that children were not the only social media users "suffering from targeted and harmful behaviour online".

He said the government was consulting on proposed reforms to protect adults that were announced last month.

On Monday, Mr Christensen deleted his Twitter account, which had been inactive for nearly a year, saying the platform was "broken".

"Suicide happens when Twitter keyboard warriors pile on an individual for a political protest," he wrote.

Dawson MP George Christensen quit Twitter on Monday, saying the platform was “broken”. Picture: Mick Tsikas
Dawson MP George Christensen quit Twitter on Monday, saying the platform was “broken”. Picture: Mick Tsikas

He declined to comment about the move yesterday out of respect for Mr Gavin's family.

Ms Landry said online attacks against her spiked after the election with "Greenies down in Victoria livid about Queensland because of the support for coal".

 

 



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