Freedom of Speech or just Anonymous Bullies?

In today’s society, famous personalities, celebrities, and politicians are not just seen on our TV screens and on the covers of magazines, but have a heavy presence on our social media sites. This, however, provides an easily accessible, and possibly anonymous outlet for bullying and misogyny. Social media forums were designed as outlets to voice personal opinions. But where is that blurred line between freedom of speech and being a “troll”?

Charlotte Dawson (8 April 1966- 22 February 2014) was a New Zealand- Australian television personality, known for extensive career that included modelling, television host and judge/ mentor on Australian’s Next Top Model. However, due to the circumstances of her death in February, Charlotte Dawson is, unfortunately remembered for her, very public, issues with bullying and depression. The television personality was bullied on various forms of social media, particularly Twitter.

Article from the Eastern Tribune

Article from the Eastern Tribune


Before her death, Charlotte carried out an investigation of Twitter “trolls” that led to her confronting six of her online tormentors, of which two men were captured on camera.

Charlotte Dawson is remembered as witty, bold, strong and often controversial woman- qualities that would be admirable if in a man. However, her personality often warranted nasty reactions on social media that led to depression and eventually suicide. The cyber bulling that Charlotte faced was so severe that it is said by her close friends and family that it was the cause of her death. Charlotte Dawson was abused and bullied because of her strong opinions and bold personality, but businesswomen, female politicians and ‘regular’ women on social media sites with these same attributes are constantly beat down. Charlotte’s death has, however, brought the issue of cyber bullying back into the light. I agree that cyber bullying is also an issue among men, especially men in the public eye- but online, men are criticised for very different reasons. It it seems that social media sites are providing a new platform for misogyny.

Rest In Peace, Charlotte Dawson.

Further Reading

If you still unsure about Charlotte Dawson, check out Rebecca Sparrow’s article on Mamamia.

Also, please check out Charlotte’s Last Interview by Sunday Night.


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