A one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple person eater

New Zealand’s media must stop pandering to over-sensitivity about gender identification.

I am becoming annoyed by ongoing reports that “a person” has been the subject of this or that, with no indication that it is man, woman, boy or girl.

The only plausible reason for the nomenclature is that “person” avoids the possibility of giving offence to someone who may no longer identify with their sex at birth.

How likely is that?

I am not a statistician but if less than five percent of the population identify as LGBT+ (according to Statistics New Zealand estimates), that means there is at least a 95 per cent chance the ‘person’ in the story would not be offended by reference to their birth gender. Continue reading “A one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple person eater”

Carefully chosen front page obscenity

On Saturday, the opening sentence of the lead story in the Dominion Post Weekend contained an obscenity referring to female genitals. Not an abbreviation, not an acronym, but the full word spelt out.

I was shocked. And that was exactly the reaction editor Anna Fifield hoped to achieve with her courageous decision to demonstrate the full impact that an avalanche of online abuse is having on New Zealand women.

If I was shocked, imagine how female MPs and councillors feel when they open their email inbox or social media accounts and are confronted by obscenities, personal abuse and threats. Continue reading “Carefully chosen front page obscenity”

Big Billy-Goat Gruff gives trolls a good kicking

Trolls beware: They’re coming to get you…if you live in Australia.

On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the latest measure to make social media platforms behave reasonably. He said legislation would be introduced to the Australian Parliament requiring platforms like Facebook to have robust complaints procedures and requiring them to ‘unmask’ anonymous accounts which disseminate offensive and defamatory content. If the companies do not comply, the federal court will be given the power to require disclosure.

The move will effectively overturn an earlier High Court ruling relating to posts on mainstream news media Facebook pages. It found the news publishers responsible for comments made by users on their pages. The federal announcement will ensure that social media companies themselves will be held accountable for harmful comments on their platforms. Continue reading “Big Billy-Goat Gruff gives trolls a good kicking”

Kill Facebook ‘comments’ before the buck stops with you

We can take a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty approach to the decision by Australia’s highest court making anyone with a Facebook page liable for any comments others post on it.

The judgement caused great wailing and gnashing of teeth in media as far afield as Ireland and India and not simply because it opened the way for a youth detention centre inmate to sue the Australia’s biggest news groups over things they didn’t say. As Harvard University’s Nieman Lab put it: “[It] makes publishers legally responsible for every idiot Facebook user who leaves a comment.”

That is just a little bit scary, but let’s start with the optimistic view. Continue reading “Kill Facebook ‘comments’ before the buck stops with you”