You may have seen the news last week stating that the Federal government has launched a new cybersafety initiative for children. Developed by Life Education and McAfee, the program will be rolled out to 3,500 primary schools nation wide. Prime Minister Julia Gillard explains:

We have taught our kids generation after generation about how to be streetwise and how to face up to stranger danger. If I had a dollar for every time my mother lectured me on the way out about not getting in cars with people you didn’t know and not talking to strangers, I would be a far wealthier woman.

So generation after generation we have taught our kids about the dangers that they might encounter in the world that they inhabit and live in.

Now we’ve got to teach our kids about new dangers in a new environment in the cyber world.

We know many parents worry a great deal about cyber bullying, about the kind of bullying that follows you from the school gates into your home, that never gives you a break, that is there even when you are on school holidays or weekends, that is there even in the middle of the night because kids wake up and check their devices.

So I’m pleased that today we will be releasing new guidelines for social networking sites which commits companies such as Facebook and Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft to work in accordance with these protocols. And these companies have agreed to make this commitment.

Read the press release here.

More news on Robbie Farah and vile tweets

On Monday we reported that Wests Tigers rugby captain Robbie Farah was the recipient of vile tweets about his recently deceased mother. Farah approached Police and the Prime Minister to intervene and ensure that trolls were adequately dealt with and laws reflecting the use of social media were updated.

However, yesterday, Yahoo news reported that Farah himself had sent a questionable message to the Prime Minister. In something that may shock many people, a tweet from September 2011, which Farah had deleted soon after it was published, has been unearthed. The Yahoo report states:

New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell says he wants to work with the Commonwealth to send a strong message to people who harass others on the internet.

“I think it’s unacceptable, whether it’s a star footballer or whether it’s an average citizen out there, to get either racist, defamatory or other inciteful messages from someone who thinks they can do it anonymously,” he said.

“We are seeking a review of existing Commonwealth legislation to see what between the Commonwealth and the states we can do to close any potential loopholes that exist.”

NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher says he will speak with police about cracking down on online abuse and agrees the Federal Government needs to intervene.

This case is a classic example of a digital footprint that cannot be ‘cleaned up’ just by deleting offensive tweets or posts. Once published, these posts or tweets can come back to haunt us.

Rugby player Robbie Farah calls in police over vile tweets

Today the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Wests Tigers rugby captain Robbie Farah has had enough of vile tweets sent to him, he has not only called in the police, he has called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to take action over trolling:

We need @JuliaGillard to take some action and change these soft laws. people need to be accountable for their comments.

He continued to tweet:

We all need to make a stand and get these scums off twitter. The laws are p__ weak and people should be accountable for their comments.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell also weighed in, saying in a message to Farah he would support action being taken in the matter. ”shouldn’t matter who target is – completely unacceptable,” he wrote. ”Will follow up & happy to work with Feds to stop it.” The same Twitter troll sent several messages to Canberra fullback Josh Dugan yesterday. Farah’s actions in highlighting the offensive tweet and making a stand might prompt stricter laws around social media.

Again this week we users of social media have to take a long hard look at ourselves. If you ensure that you don’t tweet or post on Facebook anything that might offend your grandmother, then you’re pretty much going to be okay.

Read the whole report here.