A Facebook page filled with racially abusive messages about Indigenous people has been taken down, after hundreds of people campaigned to have it removed.
SBS reported yesterday on the Facebook page, which allows posts with racially abusive "memes" about Indigenous people. The page was temporarily removed, before re-appearing on the site with a tag noting that the content contained "controversial humour".
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy weighed into the debate, saying he thought it should be taken down.
"We don't want to live by the same standards that Facebook does," Mr Conroy said. "I think it's an offence. It's been reclassified but I think it should be taken down."
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke warned the page could be a breach of the Racial Discrimination Act.
"[The page] potentially does insult and offend, but it probably does more than that. I think the depiction of these images on Facebook actually moves more in to vilifying."
HUNDREDS PROTEST PAGE
“It is an openly racist page that is encouraging hate towards Aboriginal people. I find it incredible that Facebook would refuse to remove this page,” says Jacinta.
The social media site has responded to complaints with the message: "After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."
When contacted by SBS, Facebook responded with this email message:
"We have nothing to share at this time but will let you know if that changes," Facebook spokesperson Mia Garlick replied.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has now launched an investigation into the page. The content has also been formally submitted to the Classification Board for classification.
"The ACMA is currently investigating specific URLs that contain the online content noted in the SBS story after receiving a complaint yesterday," an ACMA spokesperson told SBS in an email today.
"The ACMA investigates online content upon receipt of valid complaints from Australian residents or a body corporate that carries on activities in Australia. Investigations are conducted using powers under schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992," the statement said.
The page has caused outrage among many Facebook users.
The page uses internet jokes or “memes” to racially vilify Indigenous Australians, with text referencing colonialism and substance abuse placed against photos of Indigenous people without their consent.
FACEBOOK PAGE 'CHANGES NAME'
Last night the words "(Controversial Humour)" were added and the page has now gathered more than 4000 "likes".
SBS believes the site was created and is maintained by a 16-year-old Perth boy.
A post made to the site yesterday by the site's moderator reads “this page aint racism, its the truth, keep passin the petrol cuzzins”.
Facebook user Mike Gurrieri said he reported it to the social network via the “report” tab.
“I reported the page for hate speech against a race, and I think the page should be taken down immediately,” he said.
ACMA's stance on its role regarding the page has changed.
Asked yesterday by SBS about Facebook users' claims they had reported the page to ACMA, a spokesperson said it was not their jurisdiction, despite it being the government agency responsible for regulating the internet.
“It's a policy area. Our jurisdiction lies in preventing terrorism, online child pornography, national security and educating the public on how to stay safe,” the spokesperson said yesterday.
UPDATE: The page has been removed as of 6pm 8/8 2012.