Thursday, 2 August 2012

Stop the cyber bullying

Ok I'm back on my soapbox today, but this time for a completely different reason. I have noticed in my travels around Facebook the past couple of days a page has sprung up called Adalia Rose is Ugly. Just from looking at the title of that page you can tell already that the spirit of the message is mean. But it becomes a whole lot meaner when you discover who Adalia Rose is.

I have seen her on current affairs shows in the past as a guest and an apparent source of inspiration for everyone who sees her. You see Adalia is a little girl who was born with Progeria, a genetic condition which makes her look like an old woman. This disease has left her horribly disfigured, and has shortened her life span dramatically. But it hasn't defeated her, and her family have managed to make a name for her by having her give interviews while being incredibly strong and cheerful, she even has her own YouTube channel where videos of her are posted for people to watch. But like everyone else who looks different, and yet still becomes famous, she has received all kind of negative attention from haters, like the makers of the page Adalia Rose is Ugly.

It isn't enough however for these pages just to state the obvious fact that Adalia's appearance is gruesome.  The pages go further than this, and try to incite hatred and violence towards this little girl, simply because she was born with a genetic defect. Luckily, because the target of their hatred is a five year old girl, who is cared for by a very strong and supportive family, she has no idea that there are people in this world so horrible that there hasn't even been an adjective invented to describe them yet. Her family are very careful to make sure Adalia only receives messages of love and hope from her fans, and shield her from the criticisms and hatred. There is an argument being put forward by some that the mother of this child is a fame hungry money grubber who is exploiting her daughter's condition for money and gifts, but that isn't what their pages focus on, they focus purely on Adalia's appearance. If they were really angry at her mother, why not make that the focus of the page instead of the defenceless little six year old who probably can't even read their posts?

The real problem with this page and the others like it is that they are in direct breach of the Facebook policies in that they are hateful towards a person because of a disability or disease. Thousands of people have reported these pages to Facebook, and yet they stay open and visible for the whole world to see. Freedom of speech in America does not cover hatred speech, so they can't say that deleting these pages would be a breach of the Act, so why haven't they removed this page and the rest of them??

There has been a petition started on the website www.change.org requesting that Facebook take charge of this situation and remove all pages and groups who are created purely for the purpose of inciting anger and hatred, and if you want to sign this and pass it on to your friends, you can find it here. They are hoping to get a million signatures on this petition then take it to Facebook and hold them accountable to their own policies. I don't know if it will have the desired effect, but I have signed it, and I'd like to hope that someone out there is listening, and would like to add their voice to the crowd too.
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