By Victoria Stone-Meadows
Casey City’s Councillor Rosalie Crestani wants police to have more powers to act on cybercrime, after a number of fake social media profiles posing as her posted offensive content.
Cr Crestani believes the fake profiles were created in the last few months, following her support of council’s move to compulsorily acquire land in Narre Warren North.
The fake profiles have used the same photo as her official councillor Facebook profile and commented or posted material that Cr Crestani says does not represent her views.
The fake posts were centred around indigenous Australians, calling the first peoples “lazy” and “inconsiderate”, a view that Cr Crestani said was not her own.
“The posts were attacking the Aboriginal community and I was horrified,” Cr Crestani said.
“It started around the decision for Mr Foy’s land; it popped up around this time and this is probably a left-wing attack,” she said.
While the fake profiles have been taken down now, Cr Crestani says she would like to see some changes in the way online bullying is dealt with.
“I would like to see a proper call centre for Facebook or what-have-you to speak to real human beings,” she said.
“I would also like police to have their hands on the IP addresses of those that set up the accounts and for police to have real teeth to deal with cyber bullying that comes from outside of Australia.”
Cyber security expert at Monash University Dr Lennon Chang said once an impostor account had damaged someone’s reputation, despite it being a form of identity theft, there wasn’t a lot of action police could take.
“For the imposter, it is definitely a crime,” Dr Chang said.
“Stealing someone’s profile and causing damage – it is definitely a crime but the issue is it is not easy to investigate and discover who has done it.”
“Police can’t do a lot here, as the damage has been caused; what we can do in this situation is we can tell people it was fake and try to ask Facebook or the social media website to stop disseminating the messages.”
Dr Chang said the creation of and damage caused by impostor accounts were the responsibility of the social media company to prevent, rather than the police to investigate.
“It is more about corporate responsibility; the responsibility of the company to keep its clients safe rather than the police to investigate after.”
Meanwhile, Cr Crestani has said she is disappointed with the way people have chosen to engage with her and says if someone has an issue they would like to raise, they should do it in person.
“I think it is very cowardly – I don’t want to instigate violence or anything but if you have something to say, come and say it to my face,” she said.
“Don’t try to wreck my reputation and standing with the community.”
“People are welcome to call or contact me however and I would be grateful for the opportunity to try and fix it if it is not me.”