Victorian Reason Party MP Fiona Patten is stepping down from social media after what she called “appalling abuse” by “anonymous cowards”.
- Fiona Patten said she suffered ‘filthy and violent’ abuse on social media
- Ms Patten and her office were looking for other ways to communicate with voters
- Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said it was a shame Ms Patten had to ‘opt out’ of social media
Ms Patten said she and her office will take a hiatus from social media for a few weeks, but may leave social media platforms for good.
The move comes after a Queensland man was given a suspended sentence last week for a video in which he threatened to shave the Victorian MP’s head and drag her “down the street naked” for supporting the COVID-19 laws.
In a statement, Ms Patten said social media could be a “wonderful melting pot of creativity and civilization, of real progress.”
“But it can also be a cesspool of bastardization, where people, for whatever reason, write things they would never say in front of someone.”
Speaking on the radio this morning, Ms Patten said she was concerned for the mental well-being of her staff who had to deal with numerous abuses directed at the MP.
“It’s so dirty, misogynistic, violent, aggressive, now I have staff members standing at all hours of the evening scrambling the trolls of our Facebook page and our Twitter feeds,” she said. told ABC Radio Melbourne.
Ms Patten said her office is evaluating how best to communicate with the wider community, and that may or may not include social media platforms.
âThere are better ways for me to communicate and be communicated,â she said.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said it was unfortunate Ms Patten had to quit social media.
“It is such a shame that an MP has to withdraw from a really effective way of communicating with people because of the way she was treated there. It is wrong,” he said. .
Former Victorian Minister Bronwyn Pike sympathized with Ms Patten, saying the social media environment was “stuck on steroids” during the lockdown.
“I’m not at all surprised that in this kind of frustrating cauldron that people find themselves behaving inappropriately, looking for opportunity.”
“Much of this manifests itself in inappropriate and angry behavior often directed at people who do not deserve it.”
A parliamentary inquiry last month warned that social media giants must do more to curb fake accounts, noting that abuses of MPs and journalists risked polluting political debate and discouraging women from getting involved.