Case Study 3: Bullying, Abuse and Trolling

Read the following and answer the questions below:

Introduction: various incidents in the public and social media, including those on TV, radio, Facebook and Twitter, and in the workplace, education/religious institutions and accommodation facilities, have drawn attention for their content, tenor, focus and consequences. One TV personality (Charlotte Dawson) committed suicide in 2014 after being subject to lengthy online abuse by internet trolls while many have been reported as subject to threats, bullying and attacks both online and face to face. Individual abuse of this type or types is abhorrent in any context but where such assaults, attacks or abuse occur where those responsible are associated with or represent the position or reflect the reputation of an organisation in the public arena, broader issues of legal risk management must be considered.

Examples of instances leading to such issues include the following (there are plenty of other stories on these and other instances): in –

Public Media:

Eddie McGuire and Caroline Wilson

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/eddie-mcguire-joked-about-drowning-a-woman-on-triple-m-radio/news-story/55c438a71968a96e381d14623c9612a9

But then, of course….

http://www.theage.com.au/afl/youre-an-embarrassment-caro-sam-newman-weighs-in-20160622-gpprhe.html 

Politics:

Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/carbon-tax-protesters-labelled-extremists-as-they-rally-in-canberra/story-e6frg6xf-1226026906087

The workplace:

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/girls-suicide-prompts-law-on-bullying-20110404-1cyp8.html

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/victims-have-ways-to-end-workplace-bullying-20120903-259bg.html

Educational Institutions:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/bullying-in-universities-it-exists-1869267.html

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/six-australians-share-their-bully-stories-8216i-lost-faith8217/story-fnet09p2-1226689405651

Religious institutions:

https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/bibliography/child-abuse-and-church

and in accommodation facilities.

Questions (select TWO of the above areas as a focus for the discussion):

  • What legal risk issues should organisations/providers consider when dealing with third parties/clients/customers? Why?
  • How have organisations in these areas identified and addressed the areas of legal risk?
  • Are these appropriate in terms of on-going implications for their legal obligations?
  • What broader implications (reputational, funding, social attitudes and ethical) do their management strategies have or potentially have?…

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