Facebook playground of the century

FACEBOOK has become an extension of the high school playground, but a place where insults and bullying is done before an audience of thousands.

University of Queensland social media expert Dr Nicholas Carah said many of the behaviours expressed on Facebook, such as the Lismore Root-Rater page, which allows users to give their sexual partners a score out of 10, Avilla Roots and Lismore Goss, were the same as generations of school kids.

The crucial difference was the size of the audience and the permanence of the message.

“A lot of what we see happening on social media is an amplification of things teens have always done,” Dr Carah said.

“Think of planking. Young men have always done ridiculous things in front of their friends, but with Facebook it is amplified.

“It goes from something contained in a peer network in a school playground or a group of friends and it takes it and blows it out.”

Dr Carah said it had been common among teenagers to have Facebook networks of 800 or even 1000 people – taking it far beyond a conventional friendship group.

That meant abuse could be witnessed by a much-wider audience, making the impact of the abuse much greater.

However, the anonymity of the internet made it easier for those witnesses to remain silent.

“If you are in a playground watching someone get called a slut, you are an immediate witness and you are responsible for that,” he said.

“If you're at home reading it and having a giggle, you are not feeling personally responsible and you don't feel you should intervene.”

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