Erin Molan Details Trolling’s Impact During Senate Inquiry

Erin Molan has told a Senate inquiry about the severe impact waves of online abuse have had on her life. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

TV personality Erin Molan told a government inquiry into the effects of trolling and online abuse that “humiliating and traumatic” attacks on her eventually led her to be turned down for a job at Channel 9.

Molan, along with a variety of other prominent legal figures and bodies, had been called to testify as part of a Senate investigation examining the effectiveness of the federal government’s social media (anti-trolling) bill. .

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The bill has been heavily criticized for focusing primarily on defamation law, theoretically allowing a plaintiff to demand that social media companies turn over the real identities of anonymous users, which facilitates the pursuit of defamation suits in court.

Critics say the bill will do little or nothing to address the central problem of online abuse, given the high cost of civil action in court.

Even Molan, who detailed some of the horrific abuse sent to him for investigation, said Bill would have done little to help him in his situation due to the sheer volume of abuse. , as well as the cost of legal action.

“I’m a big girl, I’m very resilient. I can handle people who dislike me and those who disagree with me. I can handle people who have an opinion,” she said.

“You really feel like you have no way to fix it.

“Things that would be written about me on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter… suggesting how I got certain jobs or things people said I would do with players were completely untrue.

“I had no way to defend myself…it was very damaging and you know, taking legal action is incredibly expensive.”

The proposed bill would allow Australians to obtain the personal information of users who post abusive material, enabling legal action against anonymous trolls.

However, Molan was not the only witness to the inquiry who was skeptical about the effectiveness of the proposed legislation.

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Attorney General Michaelia Cash’s office has come under fire, with many suggesting the bill’s title is misleading.

The department acknowledged last month that it had received a significant number of comments, saying “the bill is about defamation and is not intended to address broader types of online harm.”

The Law Council of Australia made a submission to the inquiry, saying the bill would do little or nothing to prevent trolling, as stated in the headline.

“Defamatory material comprises only a small part of online trolling activity and despite proposed reforms, defamation law is likely to continue to be…a relatively ineffective mechanism for seeking redress of individual reputation and to reduce trolling activity on social media,” the Council said. .

Attorney General Michaelia Cash supports the government's proposed anti-trolling bill, despite a consensus agreement it will do little to address the problem.  (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Attorney General Michaelia Cash backs the government’s proposed anti-trolling bill, despite a consensus it will do little to address the problem. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

Lawyer, writer and human rights defender Nyadol Nyuon, a frequent victim of online hate, said that much like Molan, the new bill would do essentially nothing to prevent the massive volume of abuse directed against him.

Moreover, even if she managed to unmask anonymous trolls, then it would be financially impossible to take legal action.

“The sheer volume of it makes it almost difficult to be able to deal with every individual that comes with it,” she said.

“If I had to spend my time trying to expose everyone, it would be unmanageable.

“I can assure you that even as a very privileged woman who works full time, I would think twice before putting my money on a defamation suit.”

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Norman D. Briggs