Bill Shorten has revealed that his 11-year-old daughter discovered he was being trolled by anti-vaxxers when she looked at his Instagram account on his phone.
The former Labor leader said Clementine, his only child with wife Chloe, found hundreds of ‘hardcore’ comments last month after he described antivax protesters in Melbourne as ‘baby-nazi males’.
Mr Shorten called on social media companies to stop the ‘pain and fear’ caused by anonymous trolls after Barnaby Joyce revealed his daughter Bridgette had been subjected to false accusations that she was having an affair with John Barilaro.
Bill Shorten has revealed that his 11-year-old daughter Clementine (pictured together on Mr Shorten’s public Instagram page) discovered he was being trolled by anti-vaxxers
Mr Shorten said his daughter discovered trolling on this post he posted on September 11th
In an op-ed first published in the Western Australian newspaper, he described being “constantly shocked” by online trolls and explained how his daughter discovered abusive comments last month.
“A few weeks ago, my daughter was looking at my Instagram page on my phone when she warned me about a series of comments on a post from some time ago,” he wrote.
Mr Shorten said the post was a tribute to the victims of the 9/11 terror attack that killed his friend Andrew Knox.
“However, what my 11-year-old daughter came across were hundreds of new comments that were part of a coordinated message bombing of my account by anti-vaxxers over comments I had made about the recent protests in Melbourne,” he said.
“This wasn’t your average troll that I block, delete, or ignore on a daily basis. This was hardcore. None of this is checked and everything is allowed. It’s the wild, wild west.’
Bill Shorten kisses his daughter Clementine onstage with wife Chloe during a 2019 federal election rally in Burwood, Sydney
Mr Shorten, who led Labor to two election defeats in 2016 and 2019, said he lets his daughter look at his Instagram account because it’s “much safer” than giving her her own phone or account.
The 54-year-old, who is also the stepfather to two teenagers from Chloe’s first marriage, said trolls “endanger lives” by affecting the mental health of young people.
He said he agreed with Scott Morrison, who last week called social media a “palace of cowards” after Joyce revealed he was upset by false accusations on Twitter and Facebook that Barilaro resigned Sunday for dating the 25 -year-old Bridgette who has been working for him since February.
Morrison supported Joyce and said he would take action to prevent social media companies from allowing defamatory comments from anonymous trolls who cannot be held accountable.
“I will take my vote and add it to Barnaby’s,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.
Cowards who go anonymously on social media and defame, harass and bully people and make defamatory statements should be responsible for what they say.
“Social media has become a coward’s palace where people can go about their business, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the most filthy and insulting things to people with impunity.
‘Now that is not a free country where that happens. That is not true.’
Joyce has made false accusations about his daughter Bridgette (pictured)
Morrison threatened to change the law to label social media companies as publishers, making them legally responsible for all comments posted by users.
‘[Users] have to identify who they are, and you know, the companies, if they’re not going to say who they are, well, they’re not a platform anymore, they’re a publisher. They are a publisher. And you know the implications of that in terms of those issues,” he said.
Joyce had previously criticized social media companies for failing to take responsibility for false accusations.
“I think we now have companies that are making billions of dollars and people who claim to be multiple billionaires, but they don’t have their own responsibility for what goes on on their platforms,” he told ABC Radio National.
‘I think so. And from my own personal experience lately, you have to get to a point where you say enough is enough.’
The deputy prime minister said he had been asked to comment on the false claim that his daughter was having an affair by local media after it was circulated online.