As if the wait for April’s calf wasn’t long enough, now those hooked on to Animal Adventure Park’s live cam have been enduring a flurry of insults from Facebook trolls.
According to Daily Mail, Facebook will soon be launching a ‘Police’ icon, which users could click on if they felt threatened by someone. However, until then, the admins and moderators of Facebook groups have to fight bullies themselves.
Kathy A. Catarious, a certified grief counselor, says she has of late noticed a lot of bullying in Facebook groups dedicated to April, the pregnant giraffe.
Chalking out the reasons for such behavior, she says people bully because they want to gain popularity among their peers. In most cases, the bullies themselves have been bullied. They have low self-esteem and lack of acceptance, she explains.
“Rude texts, spreading lies and rumors, and deliberately excluding someone from a social activity are some of the ways people bully on these groups,” says Kathy, who herself is a member of a Facebook group dedicated to April.
Carla Pelham, the admin of April Giraffe Friends, had a rough last week grappling with cyber bullies. Her group—the largest on Facebook with over 50,000 followers—had to endure several rude remarks and abusive comments from trolls.
“We want to make sure we have people who truly are here to support April. We have a great team of admins who thoroughly check every post before approval. Posts that are rude, and posts that are here to sell products and services are not approved. Now, we make sure that we check each and every profile before we approve their membership,” she says.
As visibly evident, the existing members do seem to enjoy their time. Kathy Gilmour Wolstenholme and Diana Neufeld, members of April Giraffe Friends, say that the group has been supportive even during times of personal hardships.
“There is so much understanding in this group that I find myself sharing bits of my life that I don’t usually put up on my personal Facebook page. People here are not judgmental. Even though it started out as a support group for April the giraffe, I hope it will continue to be around after all the excitement of her calf’s birth has dwindled down,” says Katherine Valerius, a member of April Giraffe Friends.
Facebook group ‘April The Giraffe’ is another growing community with over 26,000 members. On an average, 6,000 new members join this group every week. This members of this group too were subject to bullying. Thanks to the timely intervention of the admin Ashlie Buchanan, her group has seen a decline in cyberbullying the last few days. The moderators have made sure they remove anyone who is being unpleasant and rude.
“We have people from all walks of life. People are sharing their talent. We are here to encourage each other and experience everything together. The administrators’ goal is to keep the page a judgement-free zone that that everyone can enjoy,” said Ashlie, who herself is an anti-bullying activist.
Another unique group that’s dedicated to April on Facebook is ‘#TeamEgg Giraffes Do Lay Eggs,’ which has around 2,400 members. Although not as big as the two other groups, #TeamEgg has nine admins to make sure the members have a safe virtual environment.
“We have a strict no-bulling policy. If we see something getting out of hand, we act fast to remove the posts/comments and speak with persons involved. If situation continues they are excused from group” the admins said. #TeamEgg adds around 20-50 new members every day.
Raven Bechtol, Amber Johnson, Jess Mellanby, Carol Jones, and Amber Nicole Mousseau are some of the members who have been very active on ‘#TeamEgg Giraffes Do Lay Eggs.’
“This group gives everyone a sense of belonging no matter who you are or where you’re from. It always brings laughter to an otherwise boring day,” said Cindy Olmschenk, another enthusiastic member of this group.
Darla Hussey Hill, one of the admins who manages April and Oliver The Giraffe Fan Page/Support group, says kindness is the key. Although the group has nearly 3,000 members, only three people have been banned so far.
“I personally message the members so that it stays off the wall. I explain to them that we all have our own opinions and none are wrong or right. If you don’t like something, please scroll past it and move into a post you can relate to. Kindness and good manners never go out of style,” she said.
[Featured Image by Kai-Uwe Knoth/AP Images]