Monthly Archives: January 2012

The following story came to us from a NineMSN Staffer in Australia. It highlights not only why you should pay attention to what you put out there on social media, but also that there are people watching what you Tweet, and put on other social media sites. The USA is very sensitive about security issues, and as the following story shows, even a joke or a throw away line can land you in serious trouble.

Social Media is worldwide. As is true when doing business internationally, when posting on our social media sites, it stands us in good stead to be culturally sensitive, and aware of who may see what we are posting.

By ninemsn staff:

“Two British tourists were stopped from entering the US and held at the airport after they joked on Twitter they were going to “destroy America”.

Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and held in a cell with Mexican drug traffickers for 12 hours after arriving at Los Angeles airport with his 24-year-old friend Emily Bunting last Monday.

Mr Van Bryan had been flagged as a potential danger by the Department of Homeland Security after he tweeted his friend days before he left the UK, the  Daily Mail reports.

“Free this week, for a quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?” he wrote.

But when the pair arrived in the US, they were both detained by armed guards.

US officials ignored the protests of Mr Van Bryan and Ms Bunting, who tried to explain that “destroy” was British slang for “party”.

They were held for five hours on suspicion of planning to “commit crimes” and had their passports taken away.

Van Bryan was also questioned about a separate tweet, in which he quoted US comedy Family Guy.

“3 weeks today, we’re totally in LA p—ing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up!” he wrote.

Officials searched through their luggage, reportedly looking for spades and shovels, saying Ms Bunting was planning to act as Mr Van Bryan’s look out while he raided Monroe’s tomb.

“It’s just so ridiculous its almost funny but at the time it was really scary. The Homeland Security agents were treating me like some sort of terrorist,” Mr Van Bryan said.

The pair spent 12 hours in separate cells — Mr Van Bryan was locked up with two Mexican drug traffickers — before they were sent home via Paris.

The pair must now apply for visas from the US Embassy in London before flying to America again.”

Here is a link to the news story in another publication:

Cyber Bullying

I have been asked by many of my friend’s children to be their Facebook friend. I usually say yes, and then I take the opportunity to talk to my friends about how they are monitoring their children’s social media presence(s). Most often, the conversation is centered on either cyber bullying, or the posting of inappropriate content. Many of my friends worry about what to do if their child is the victim of cyber bullying, but not many of them talk about what the consequences could be, if their child was the cyber bully.

Recently, I read an article about how social media may change the law in 2012. One area that is most in need of development are the laws that protect people, all people, not just children, from cyber bullies, and provides redress for those who find themselves victims of this crime (and here I refer to it in the moral sense and well as the legal sense).

Cyber bullying is using any form of electronic communication to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or terrorise another person by means of threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (hate speech), ridicule, false statements or disclosure of personal data.

Traditional bullying has been characterized by:

  • An intention by the bully to hurt the target (emotionally or physically)
  • An imbalance of power.
  • A continued threat of further aggression.
  • An inability by the target to defend themselves, or “fight back”.

All of these characteristics can be extended to, and even enhanced by the use of electronic media.

The term ‘cyber bullying’ is more often applied to the practice when it is perpetrated by one child upon another, or by an adult upon a child. When the practice is perpetrated by one adult upon another the terms ‘cyber stalking’ or ‘cyber harassment’ are more often used. This differentiation in terminology could be a proving point when deciding whether or not the act constitutes a crime or an infringement of law, as stalking and harassment appear to be more prevalent in the law courts, and perhaps easier to prove and legislate against.

All over the world governments are working on creating laws that protect their citizens from cyber bullying, stalking and harassment. But as you can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult task, given the breadth of the meaning that can be given to these terms and the needs to protect individual rights like freedom of speech and freedom of information, whilst trying to balance the need to protect citizens.

In the USA there is currently no Federal cyber bullying law that has been tested in the courts. A federal lawsuit did eventually result in Megan’s Law being passed in Missouri in 2008. Statute Chapter 565 – Offenses Against the Person Section 565.090 is unofficially known as Megan’s law, the statute is named after 13-year-old Megan Meier who committed suicide in 2006 after being the victim of an Internet hoax set up by a schoolmate’s mother. The law makes it a felony for someone 21 years or older to communicate with someone 17 years or younger by phone or electronic means in order to recklessly frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to that person.

In New Jersey, the case of Tyler Clementi spurred legislators to pass the “Anti-bullying Bill of Rights.” Many other states have introduced their own legislation in various forms to try to prevent cyber bullying.

In the European Union (EU) there are no laws to prevent cyber bullying.

Cyber Bullying Law in Australia

Cyber bullying is a growing problem in Australia, and a recent article suggests that Australia has been polled as the worst country for cyber bullying in the world[1] Perhaps one of the reasons for the rise is not that children and young adults are becoming meaner, but perhaps more that they are not only becoming desensitized to violence and bullying through their mass exposure to violent images via mass media (TV, movies, games), coupled with less parental supervision (due to busy lifestyle schedules); but also that the ability to bully anonymously takes away the feeling of moral responsibility they may feel when face-to-face with their victim.

The majority of cyber bullying ‘cases’ that have come to light in Australia have mainly involved one child being cyber bullied by one or more other children. The question, when looking at this from a legal perspective is “can the offender be deemed by law to be responsible for their actions?” This question ascertains whether or not the offender can be deemed to have perpetrated a criminal act. And this is why education in schools, coupled with parental discussion with regards to bullying, and now cyber bullying, is of the utmost importance.

In Australia, at common law, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years (by statute). This means a cyber bully under 10 years will not be criminally responsible. Between the ages of 10 and 14, it must be proven that the child knew that they should not have committed the offence. Anyone over the age of 14 can be held criminally liable for their own conduct.

Legal discussion in Australia around cyber bullying has tended to focus on children and schools. New South Wales is the only state or territory to have introduced provisions to prevent cyber bullying, and these provisions only cover situations where both the offender and the victim, child or teacher are actually on the school premises.

Cyber bullying could be prosecuted in all Australian states and territories as ‘assault’. That is, if there exists a threat of force that puts the target in fear of imminent violence, whether there is in fact any actual direct or indirect application of force, then a common assault may have been committed. However, in order to prove such an offence the threat must be evidenced in some way, and under Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australian statutes, words or images online are insufficient evidence of a threat.

The Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 could be used as a redress against cyber bullying as it covers a number of offences including the misuse of telecommunications services to menace, threaten or hoax other persons.

This Act highlights a very important aspect of bullying and by extension, cyber bullying; and that is the intention of the bully. Even if the target of the bully does not have the fear that the bully will carry out their threat, if the intention of the bully can be proven, the bully can be prosecuted.

The Commonwealth Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offences and other Measures) Act (No. 2) was passed in 2004 and covers offences relating to mobile phones, including making hoax threats and hoax triple zero calls, making threats of violence and sending offensive images. The maximum penalty under this act is three years in prison, and an automatic criminal record.

Allem Halkic (17) jumped from Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge on February 5, 2009, after an ex-friend sent him a stream of threatening messages via SMS and the Internet. On April 8, Allem’s tormentor, Shane Phillip Gerada, 21, became the first person in Australia to face prosecution for stalking via cyber bullying when he pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to stalking. Said magistrate Peter Reardon; “It demonstrates SMS messages or Internet communication may have severe consequences on intended victims, whether meant to or not.”

It is important to note here that bullying is not always just one person bullying another. Quite often there are several people involved in the bullying. This is the case in an increasingly common form of bullying known as ‘happy slapping’. This is where an unsuspecting victim is assaulted, and another party, or other parties capture the assault, often and increasingly using a mobile phone, and the resulting footage is then posted online. The people recording the assault are then accomplices to the assault under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.

In 2011 there was outrage amongst the public when a mobile phone video went viral of a bully attacking another boy at a Western Sydney high school. In the wake of incidents like this, South Australia’s Attorney General John Rau proposed new laws to prosecute anyone involved in such activity.

All Australian states and territories have their own threat offences, which mirror the Commonwealth threat provisions.

There have been several well-publicized cases of cyber bullying, and cyber bullying related suicide amongst teenagers in Australia. But the majority of cyber bullying, especially amongst children and teenagers will go unreported.

It is important to remember that cyber bullying is not only the domain of children and teenagers. Work place cyber bullying is a practice that employers must be aware of and educated about in order to protect themselves from prosecution and their employees from being victims of or carrying out cyber bullying. This problem cannot be addressed by merely extending current workplace practices policies to cover cyber bullying.  New methods of education and redress need to be put in place, monitored, updated and reapplied regularly.

I have a Facebook Friend, he sent me a Friend Request several years ago, and because I was still at the “new and impressed” stage of my Facebook history I thought to myself “Why not?” He looked interesting enough. I was there after all to make new friends and discover the Facebook world.

Please be my Friend Wiz.

It was only after we had been Friends for a while, and had some pretty good conversations, that I checked out his ‘Friends’ list, and discovered he was a ‘collector’. You know the ones…. Guys that send out Friend Requests to women they like the look of, lots of them, and gather the ones that actually accept his Friend Request, into their harem.

These ‘collectors’ usually respond to the sorts of women whose pictures are a little bit saucy. Bikini shots, provocative facial expressions, semi-nude, or sexily dressed, or even just attractive and nice. These guys troll Groups and Pages, and worse, their Friend’s Friend Lists for new ‘conquests’. Why they do this should not be such a mystery, I’m guessing it’s for the pictures; we all know how visual guys are. And judging by some of the pictures I see being posted on Facebook, they are getting lots and lots of satisfaction.

Anyway, I’m not telling you this little anecdote as an indictment on my Friend, I’m describing it because his activity on Facebook highlighted a possible area of weakness on Facebook. Through his Likes of the pictures posted by his harem, I have been able to discern exactly what his ‘tastes’ are. You see, when you Like a picture on Facebook, if the person posting that picture has left the Privacy setting on it as ‘Public’ , or as “Friends of Friends’, then everyone on your Friend list will see your Like in their News Feed, providing they are looking at their News Feed at the time your Like is posted, or for the duration it is visible for above the line.

Now, not everyone spends as much time on Facebook as I do (it is my job after all), so not everyone is so acutely aware of what their Friends are up to as I am, but it was just one of his Likes that piqued my attention and caused me to somewhat subconsciously look out for him in my News Feed. And soon I was discovering all sorts of things about his tastes in women, clothing styles, poses and tattoo placement.

Perhaps I should mention here that I have used the Facebook ‘Lists’ functionality to segregate all my Friends into different Lists:

  • Family
  •  Close Friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Work Friends
  • Stalkers (kidding)
  • Watch List (people who are ‘helping’ me with my work)
  • Subscriptions
  • Etc.

I’m not spending the whole day viewing what every single one of my Friends is up to. I usually check in with my Family and Close Friends Lists in the morning, and throughout the day, then, if I have time I might browse some of my other Lists.

I have noticed that I can learn quite a lot about my Friends by what they. For instance, I have a Friend in the USA who likes French cooking sites. She Likes a lot of pictures of cassoulet and rabbit stew, and cheese.

Mmmmm..... Cheese.

Another Friend likes polar bears, so you can guess the type of pictures she Likes a lot.


But then there are those Friends, usually male, whose Likes make me look again and say “Really?”


Which led me to the question “What do your Likes say about you?”


As a Socially Secure Individual, you want to know exactly what it is you are putting out there in the digital domain. This means being familiar with all the privacy settings on the social media applications you use. Some of these applications change their privacy setting often, and often without notification, so you need to check them regularly and thoroughly.

Here’s one tip for today:

Before you Like a photo, or an article or anything else on Facebook, check what the privacy setting is. If it is Public, then ask yourself if you want the whole of your Facebook world to know that you Like it?

You can also ask all your Friends to unsubscribe from your Likes and other actions on Facebook like this:

“As you all know I like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do the following, I’d appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE. . . please do both of us a favour: Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says “Subscribed”. Hover over that, then go to “Comments and Likes” and unclick it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the side bar for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll “Like” it.
Thanks everyone”

And yes, the best way is still to just think about what you are doing, and be a present and aware content creator.



Collective consciousness is a term I have heard in many conversations in and around Byron Shire for most of my life. It is not some hippie free love term that was created during the Aquarius festival in Nimbin in the late 60s, but a technical term that refers to how any given individual comes to view them self as a part of any given group. The term has been used by social theorists/psychoanalysts such as Durkheim, Althusser, and Jung, to explain how an autonomous individual comes to identify with a larger group/structure, often through collaboration and contribution to a community; effectively, how they come to “belong”.

Byron Bay has a very strong collective consciousness. It is in fact the pulse of our community. The diversity and abundance of smaller communities within Byron Bay makes the community unique, and unlike anywhere else on the planet. Just spend a little time here, and you will soon see the way each person, each group, each tribe and each community is aware of the other, and how they interact and feed off of each other’s often radically different needs and possibilities.

Byron was once a small seaside town, financially sustained by Norco, a whaling station, an abattoir, sand mining and a fledgling surfing industry, where everyone knew everyone else. Through word of mouth Byron Bay became a world famous tourism destination, known for its unique and beautiful landscapes, and the charm of its ever vibrant, diverse and dynamic community.

Our sense of community, like our community itself, is constantly changing and evolving. It changes daily, almost in front of our eyes. Technology, in the last 10 years has created a new collective consciousness paradigm, enabling a truly global society; which allows us to extend our community beyond any border. “We are now sharing a collective mind” the love child of the Internet – the Social Media Network.  And where better for a love child to grow and thrive than in a community such as we have here in Byron Bay? The Social Media Network, this new global collectiveness tool, compliments and augments our own collective consciousness.

When my father Max Pendergast was a man in his 20s, surfing The Pass in the early 1960’s, the thought would not have even entered his head that one day ‘surfing’ would have a whole new meaning. Nor I am sure would he have believed for one second that he could be talking to me through a laptop computer, real time, from an island in the middle of the South Pacific, whilst I was sitting in my office in Australia. He could not have fathomed the idea of sharing real time video, photographs, music, and conversation from wherever he was in the world, whenever he wanted to.

Communities that collaborate and communicate through, and take advantage of technology are the new thought leaders. Where we once lived in a community that recommended products and services through “word of mouth”, the term is now “world of mouth”, and businesses in particular that are not keeping up will be left in the dust wondering what just happened.

We have the world at our fingertips. Our family, friends, colleagues, and customers are all online, all connected and all talking through the collective mind that we call Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and YouTube, among some of the many and varied social media out there on the Internet. For every single person that travels through Byron Bay in the 18-40 age group, the most preferred method of communication with their friends and family ‘back home’, the is Social Media Network. This is a fact. An exciting fact full of possibilities.

Oxford University Studies have proven that the brain is wired to a point that it can only competently manage 150 friendships at a time, so using that number 150 as a minimum amount of connections each person has on Social Media networks, multiplied by that number of people travelling through Byron Bay each year, we quickly end up with a number in the 10s of millions.  And all these people are being exposed either directly, or indirectly to the wonder of our Byron Bay. The power of Social Media Networks means that images of our little seaside home can become the two minute day dream vacation for a lawyer at work in New York City, viewing photographs and videos posted to Facebook, or Twitter, or FlickR or any number of social media applications, by a friend who is actually in Byron Bay surfing at The Pass, and living the experience that now becomes a priority on the holiday wish list of our lawyer friend in New York.  And this all happens literally in a nanosecond.

As with all communities around the world, satellite communities that provide support services spring up and flourish. This is the same with the Internet and the Social Media Network. The Internet provides an environment where our lawyer friend in New York, after seeing what a great time his friend is having in Byron Bay, can go ahead and book flights and accommodation, buy travel insurance and even a new pair of boardies, and come on over.

Like our own Byron Bay, the Social Media Network is growing organically and exponentially. Growing and flourishing, feeding off its own creativity and innovation. Inclusive, inspiring and dynamic.  The opportunities for utilizing the same talents that have helped create a place such as Byron Bay, to leverage the unlimited possibilities of the Social Media Network, are limited only by our imaginations.

And we all know that here, in our magical corner of the Universe, the imaginations are boundless.