UNCENSORED: Matty Sharp posted to a Bundaberg Facebook forum critical of single mothers on welfare payments.
UNCENSORED: Matty Sharp posted to a Bundaberg Facebook forum critical of single mothers on welfare payments.

Man attacks single mums on welfare for going out on NYE

A SOCIAL media expert has highlighted the hazy line between online trolling and healthy confrontation after a Bundaberg man caused an uproar in a local Facebook forum.

In the midst of new year hangovers, members of the online group Bundaberg Forum UNCENSORED were riled up by a post by fellow member Matty Sharp.

"If you're a single mum on welfare and you went out last night, there's only one reason you did," the post read.

"You went out to get knocked up."

In his post, he claimed "dole bludging" single mothers on welfare benefits used New Year's Eve as an easy way to "score a one night stand" to get pregnant and "bleed some poor bloke" of his money for 18 years.

 

OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS: Matty Sharp dubbed a troll after his post single mums going out on New Year's Eve
OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS: Matty Sharp dubbed a troll after his post single mums going out on New Year's Eve

The post was deleted about noon yesterday, but not before gaining more than 50 reactions and at least 60 comments from people calling him out.

"You're just a gem aren't you, get a life mate," Kellie Wallace said.

 

This was Kellie Wallace's response to the bizarre post.
This was Kellie Wallace's response to the bizarre post.

Many Facebook users deemed him a troll, but what exactly does the term mean and how can people identify the difference between a gag post and and a genuine opinion with the aim of opening a can of worms on a controversial topic?

Professor Axel Bruns, member of the digital media research centre at the Queensland University of Technology, told the NewsMail differentiating the two could be tricky.

 

FINE LINE: Professor Axel Bruns said identifying the difference between trolling and having conflicting opinions can often be difficult.
FINE LINE: Professor Axel Bruns said identifying the difference between trolling and having conflicting opinions can often be difficult. QUT

"Trolling itself isn't particularly well-defined to be honest, it's often done in order to annoy others and possibly annoy them to the point that they leave whatever forum, whatever group they're in - or they themselves get angry and aggressive," Prof Bruns said.

He said "if the underlying purpose is simply to create a flame war, to create angry responses" then statements such as Mr Sharp's could be classified as trolling.

"The main thing with trolling is it's usually a repeated pattern, just saying something that lots of other people don't agree with isn't necessarily trolling but if you do it consistently, constantly and if that's really all that you're doing in a particular space then that really can be described as trolling," he said.

 

UNCENSORED: Another of Matty Sharp's now-deleted posts on Bundaberg Forum UNCENSORED.
UNCENSORED: Another of Matty Sharp's now-deleted posts on Bundaberg Forum UNCENSORED.

Posters responding to comments in a way that isn't constructive to the original claim can also be a sign on trolling, such as Mr Sharp's replies, which were predominately emojis and gifs rather than text.

Prof Bruns said the motivation behind trolling was often the enjoyment of firing up readers, and the response of bystanders could be compared to an instance of someone playing loud music at a park - some would simply move on because that's not what they came to the park for, while others would get upset over the disruption.

He said people shouldn't be so hasty to assume an unfavourable opinion was someone trolling, but based on Mr Sharp's responses and history of interactions in the group, it was likely that his intentions were to cause disarray and, in turn, troll the group.



NYE fireworks debate flares up after $10K donation

premium_icon NYE fireworks debate flares up after $10K donation

The debate over New Year’s Eve fireworks has reignited, with one community group...

FIRST RESIDENTS: Over 50s home for Christmas in new Bay site

premium_icon FIRST RESIDENTS: Over 50s home for Christmas in new Bay site

The first group of residents will spend Christmas in their new homes

New glamping experience to provide an escape

premium_icon New glamping experience to provide an escape

It is an investment worth close to $1 million