Instagram was responsible for 43 per cent of cyber bullying complaints.
Instagram was responsible for 43 per cent of cyber bullying complaints.

Cyber Bullying: Queenslanders are spreading the hate

ALMOST a quarter of cyber-bullying complaints in the country come from Queensland, as new data reveals most of the online hate stems from Instagram.

Australia's eSafety Commission data reveals it had a 30 per cent spike in complaints over a year. But rather than Facebook, it was Instagram where most cyber-bullying was taking place. Instagram was responsible for 43 per cent of complaints compared to Facebook which was the origin of 27 per cent of the reports.

Dr Marilyn Campbell at QUT.
Dr Marilyn Campbell at QUT.

QUT cyber-bullying expert professor Marilyn Campbell said this was likely because the online bullies' weapon of choice was image based attacks, like photo shopping images of their victim.

"There's research that shows that young people are more hurt by image based abuse than they are by words," she said.

"Studies show they're more distressed when it's imaged based, whether it's video or photographs."

One in five young people report that they have been the target of online bullying while, one in five of those reporting the abuse to the commission were under 13 years old.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said cyber-bullying was hurting vulnerable children in the regions as much as the cities and called for the eSafety commission to be given more powers to deal with issue.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

"Threats are being made. There are kids as young as 12 being told 'kill yourself'," she said. "If threats are being made someone should be held accountable. If the (eSafety Commissioner) thinks it is appropriate in the circumstances the person behind the attack should be passed on to the relevant authorities."

She said she had raised the issue with relevant ministers. The Parliament is holding an inquiry into the adequacy of cyber-bullying laws.

The eSafety Commission received 99 complaints about the online menace between October 1 and January 31, with 23 per cent of those coming out of Queensland. NSW had 28 per cent, Victoria 20 per cent, while other states and territories were less than 10 per cent.

Prof Campbell said while the number of complaints seemed small, it was because most online bullying was unreported, while some people dealt with the social media companies directly rather than through the commissioner.

She warned against making laws specifically against cyber-bullying saying it was ineffective and could send the wrong message.

"The US has laws against cyber-bullying. It hasn't stopped it so what's the point," Prof Campbell said.