Police probe Facebook threats, abuse against newspaper staff
POLICE are investigating comments left on a Gympie Facebook group after posts from some of its members took a dark turn at the weekend.
Gympie police said they took these threats seriously and began investigating the site yesterday after unidentified members of Gympie Whinge, Vent and Trolls made degrading comments about Gympie Times editor Shelley Strachan, and threatened to burn down The Gympie Times building.
The Times published an article about the group last Friday after two commentators appeared to mock the death of Dolly Everett, pushed to suicide by cyberbullies.
Ms Strachan then published an opinion piece on the same subject.
While these triggered some comments, the situation did not escalate until Sunday.
On Sunday night, a Facebook account claiming to be Shelley Strachan was created by an anonymous user, and another commentator threatened to burn the paper's offices down.
Some other members and administrators of the page vented their frustration on The Gympie Times Facebook page.
An online follow-up (Page 4) attracted another slew of vitriol, and after Ms Strachan published a comment in support of the journalist who wrote it she herself was targeted.
Posts of content from Ms Strachan's profile, which was public at the time, were soon copied to The Gympie Times page and GWVT.
Ms Strachan changed her settings to private but not before images and details had been copied anonymously by someone upset with the article.
On The Gympie Times Facebook page a Facebook user who goes by the name "Kayla Melksham", who is listed as an admin on the page, said it's "too late for going private now haha," while a commenter who identifies as "Mizzo Hawker" also gloated.
"Baaahaahaa Shelley you should have done that before your pics & relevant info was copied! Oooppssss," the commentator said.
A fake profile was then set up by an unkown person, and whoever was behind it applied for access to the GWVT site.
Ms Strachan was also subjected to degrading comments on the GWVT page.
One commenter said "let us play with her. She might like a*** too?" and then following it up with "I think she already does", while other Gympie Times staff were also threatened.
"C*** can't handle the truth but we still need to find that maggot c***", a Facebook user who uses thename "Chris Kermond" said of the author of the original article, and then asked "U(sic) like me to go and have a little friendly chat with the editor... Have been know to be persuasive at times".
Another commenter, using the moniker "Yipa Gould", also made threats against The Gympie Times office posting "Sue them... or burn them down," "do you wanna to burn it together" and "I'll bring the gasoline".
The Gympie Times asked two of the site's moderators, a person using the Facebook name "Kim Eilleen" and Kayla Melksham, if they condoned the use of the fake account on their page (screenshots of which were still on the site's page at 9am yesterday morning).
Ms Eilleen said her comments were on the wall and "don't bother messaging me again", while Ms Melksham said the paper had "made all the members and admins out to look bad over one members comments".
Both said they would report The Gympie Times for harassment if it continued asking for comment. All threats were reported to the appropriate authorities.