Fears sex rating fad may hurt

IT'S called the Lismore Root-Rater – and if you're thinking it's got something to do with trees, you'd be wrong.

Instead one of the region's newest pages on the social networking site Facebook invites members to submit scores out of 10 on the performance of their sexual partners.

And if you think that sounds disgusting, the people whose names have been dragged through it are likely to agree.

Renee Joslin, 18, was among the first people named on the page – less than 10 minutes after she lodged a post criticising it.

“I'm disgusted by the profile and the people who made “Lismore Root-Rater”,” Ms Joslin said. “I personally don't see the point in embarrassing people on a worldwide internet site.”

Neither the administrator of the Root-Rater page nor Facebook responded to messages from The Northern Star.

Ms Joslin was not personally offended at having been named on the page because “the whole profile in itself is that pathetic ... I can only laugh it off”.

“That said, very harsh opinions have been posted and the people they're about could take it to heart and personally get very upset,” she said. “I completely understand that. The profile has heavily affected the reputation of the people that were posted on the page.”

The first “Root-Rater” page appeared first in Victoria or Queensland, depending on who you ask, less than a fortnight ago but have quickly spread, becoming relatively common across regional Queensland and in Brisbane, as well as Lismore.

While some of the pages have been pulled down, the Lismore page remains up – although inactive – despite Ms Joslin and others reporting the page toFacebook for misuse of the website and online bullying.

Ms Joslin said the Root-Rater site was the latest of a string of websites that revealed (or invented) personal details about Lismore teenagers and young adults.

Generally the pages would go up for a few days or weeks before being closed down, then another would pop up to take its place.

“These pages have been operating since the start of the year,” she said.

“They often last a couple a weeks until the police get involved or Facebook actually picks up their act and shuts the page down, but often that is too late. What's done is done.”

Until the arrival of the “Root-Rater” those pages were what was known as “goss” (or gossip) pages.

So far this year there has been an “Alstonville Gossip”, a “Lab Gossip” and a “Lismore Goss” page. Only the last of those can still be found on Facebook, and that has become a closed group.

Another similar page started on Facebook last night – Avilla Roots – trying to combine a root-rater and gossip page.

The other common feature between the pages is they tend to focus on small communities –often teenagers in regional communities – but they have also appeared in Brisbane, where they focus on a particular school or group, such as the gay and lesbian community.

“Lismore is a small town and given most teenagers have and use Facebook it's becomes a lot easier to meet and keep connected with people with your area,” Ms Joslin said.

And that, she said, was also why gossip pages such as Root-Rater had arisen. “Everyone on the (Root-Rater) page are either friends or mutual friends online,” she said. “Some go to school together or have.

Apart from creating an angry peer group, the administrator of the page also runs significant legal risks. Such pages could break Federal laws, which ban people from using telecommunications services to “intimidate or harass”.

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