The need for a defined internet protocol on networking site Gaydar has been highlighted by a plea made to the community in Newcastle.

Novocastrian Paul Eilich has circulated a letter calling on the Newcastle community to put an end to bullying in chat rooms. This follows incidents where personal details including HIV status, addresses and phone numbers were disclosed.

There appears to be a major misuse of the internet chat room on Gaydar, Eilich wrote in the letter circulated to hundreds in the Newcastle and Hunter region.

The room is used by a group of small-minded individuals to demoralise other people in the community. The behaviour is creating a huge divide in the community, not to mention the discrimination which is happening at huge levels, he told Sydney Star Observer.

I’m sure it’s happening everywhere, but what it’s doing up here because it’s such a small community, is that you just don’t know if the person you talk to at the pub is then going online and stabbing you in the back anonymously.

It’s wearing people down. Every time I talk to people they will say -˜oh such and such happened on the internet’. It’s dominating the community.

The simple solution would be to have the chat room for paid members only so people couldn’t create fake profiles to rip people off. Eilich also called on the community to make a vocal objection to instances of bullying.

Gaydar has rejected Eilich’s suggestion but claims to have extensive safety procedures.
Our five million members have the right to use Gaydar without any prejudice or bullying, a spokesman for Gaydar’s parent company, QSoft, said.

We would strongly advise anybody who feels they are being bullied to block the profile to stop messages being received from that particular profile.

If a member would like to make a complaint, our customer service team can look into specific cases and advise on next steps. We have also teamed up with a number of LGBT Police Liaison Officers who have profiles on Gaydar and can be contacted if an individual feels they are being victimised.

ACON’s Hunter branch has responded to Eilich’s concerns and will start a campaign to raise awareness of internet bullying.

The real issue Paul has brought out is the need to promote a culture of care, Hunter manager Chris Clemenson said.

While Gaydar probably does play a particular role, we would see that peer pressure is also a really important thing that people in Newcastle can exert by saying that abusive behaviour is just not on.
ACON has posted an article on netiquette on its website and is investigating further education possibilities, including workshops.

Have your say: Have you been the victim of internet bullying?
info: For more information head to http://www.acon.org.au/community/index.cfm?cat_id=73&subcat=105#address or email hunter@acon.org.au.

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