EWN bans ISIS troll

2015-05-05 17:01
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Cape Town - Eyewitness News has banned a user on its Facebook page who trolled a Cape Town woman and claimed she was recruiting for ISIS (Islamic State).

EWN online news editor Sheldon Morais said on Tuesday that they were alerted to Berenice Vietri’s concerns about being trolled on Saturday.

“We urgently identified the user’s offensive comments and deleted them immediately as they were clearly in contravention of our comment policy,” he told News24.

“A decision was also taken to ban the user as he had contravened the policy more than three times in a very short space of time.”

Morais said a staff member spoke to Vietri twice to assure her the matter was being taken seriously and that they had removed the troll’s offensive comments on their platforms.

He said EWN promoted freedom of speech and discussion on the news it covered, but its policy prohibited threatening, inciting, inflammatory, abusive, defamatory, obscene, vulgar or profane language.

“In addition we also state that the user will not restrict or inhibit any other user/s from using and enjoying the forums on our platforms.”

Vietri, 45, told News24 on Tuesday that she never imagined leaving a comment on an online news story would result in being trolled.

She had been commenting on a few news articles on Eyewitness News’s Facebook page at the weekend, using her own profile.

She is recovering from breast cancer and finished a round of chemotherapy and radiation a week ago.

She was conversing with another Facebook user about an assisted dying court ruling when she was interrupted by a third user “ranting and raving like a lunatic”.

Taken aback, she got her son to screen capture the comments and reported the abuse to the news organisation and Facebook.

“He [the troll] had compiled an identikit of myself and he wrote my name and my surname on there, saying this is the woman who recruited the 15-year-old for ISIS.

She said that the news organisation eventually deleted the allegations from its page and assured that they were following up from their side.

The so-called troll, operating from a fake Facebook profile, then flooded her Facebook inbox with numerous messages, which were shown to News24.

The messages are largely written in capitals and contain obscene and sexually explicit language, images and threats. The troll uses male pronouns, calls himself God and Troll, refers to the complainant as Zombie and claims to have orchestrated the deaths of people here and overseas, some in the public eye.

Western Cape police confirmed on Tuesday that they were investigating a case of common assault.

“No arrest has been made at this stage and investigations are continuing,” said spokesperson Tembinkosi Kinana.

In South Africa, the definition of common assault includes both direct force and the threat of application of immediate personal violence to another.

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