Facebook deletes ‘toxic’ QUT page
FACEBOOK has taken the extraordinary step of deleting a controversial student-managed university Facebook page after students expressed fears the group was 'an environment that encouraged people to kill themselves.'
Administrators of Queensland University of Technology's StalkerSpace 2.0 believe the page's deletion is linked to the cyber-bullying of business student Dylan Griffiths after a post the 23-year-old shared on the page on Tuesday evening sparked an avalanche of memes and abuse.
Griffiths' holiday snap "repping" a QUT T-shirt in the snow received over a thousand 'likes' but spurred the creation of dozens of memes mocking and criticising the second-year student.
While only a fraction of the page's 50,000 members contributed to the bullying, page administrator Jack Chilton believed individuals reported the comments to Facebook instead of to dedicated student-administrators - flagging the page as a vehicle for hate-speech.
Facebook acted quickly, removing the page today.
Chilton said the students operating the group had done their best to separate "the good-natured ribbing from the hateful cyber-bullying."
"I had made contact with Dylan within the first hour of his post going up," Mr Chilton said.
"I told him he had 100% control over whether or not the page has him on it.
"He just had to say the word and the mod team would remove every trace of his name/face/meme instantly.
"(Dylan) hasn't indicated to me that he feels bullied, and I saw the overwhelming majority of the responses as nothing more than friendly ribbing between friends."
Commenters on the original post and the dozens that followed appeared not to share that view.
"The toxicity of this group knows no bounds," Alex Cvetkovic said.
"I feel like QUT Stalkerspace is the sort of environment that encourages people to kill themselves," Hamish Wood said.
"Is this guy still alive? I'm actually concerned this is cyber bullying," Jessica Richardson said.
Dylan Griffiths told The Courier Mail he wasn't okay with some of the more targeted posts at his expense but had been well-supported by group administrators and strangers alike and did not believe the page deserved to be removed.
"Personally I haven't laughed this hard in a while, and I knew full well what I was signing up for when I posted," Griffiths said.
"The memes were definitely expected, and I'm just glad it's been entertaining for others as it has been for me.
"Besides, I'm currently living it up in -4°C rather than Brissy's heatwave; so it's hard to get upset."
Though taken with good humour, the reaction to Griffiths' post has once again exposed an ugly undercurrent of bullying that continued to undermine the positive intentions of page administrators.
In 2015 a previous StalkerSpace administrator took to the site to complain about the misogynistic bullying she had received over three years moderating the group.
In 2016 three QUT students were sued under the Racial Discrimination Act for comments made on the platform.
In 2018 an individual searching for a house sitter was the target of widespread bullying for her perceived unreasonable request.
StalkerSpace administrators have appealed Facebook's decision to remove the page but believe it may be some time before normal service resumes, if ever.
Replacement groups have appeared on Facebook as QUT StalkerSpace 3.0 and QUT Phoenix.
Facebook has been contacted for comment.