Opinion: Hey men - stop being terrible on social media

Warning: This article contains language and content that may disturb some people.

OPINION: "She would love some jizz in her hair." "I'm waiting for the sex scene to start." "The office lady ranga gets cream pie lol."

These are just a couple of the messages that were left on 'The Rundown', a Facebook Live I hosted last night.

We usually get a couple of nasty comments during the broadcast. A few 'Ban 1080s'. Some 'why is this news?'. Occasionally 'this is boring, go away'.

Last night, things turned sexual.

They were explicit and none-too-creative. Suggesting my male colleague and I should turn the stream into a porn video, a la the "casting couch". A couple of penises made from 8s, =s and Ds, including one simulating ejaculation.

A collection of messages commented during Newshub's Facebook Live, including various penis images.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Seriously?

Hey men: stop being terrible.

And if your immediate reaction to this is "how dare she! I'm not terrible! Not all men are terrible! I'm going to tweet her about this" - good news! You are also terrible. And you've missed the point entirely.

Maybe if any of the comments were left by women, I would have titled this piece "hey people". But they weren't. These toxic comments were left by men who felt entitled to a woman, and a woman's body, in a public space. Who thought being able to "have a laugh" was more important than anything else.

Being in journalism, I figured I'd give these guys an opportunity to share their side of the story. For balance.

Funnily enough, when asked why they were so terrible, one decided to double down on the terribleness.

"I didnt start it. But i wish to finish it now.  Oooooh. Tonight should be good then yeah (sic)," one man told me.

Another denied all knowledge of the messages, telling me his phone and cards were stolen.

A screenshot of a quoted message between Newshub's Breanna Barraclough and a man. He writes: "I didnt start it. But i wish to finish it now.  Oooooh.  Tonight should be good then yeah (sic)"
Photo credit: Newshub.

From my original tweet to this article, I've deliberately obscured their names. These comments could have come from anyone. Your brother, your co-worker, your husband, your friend. Revealing publicly who these men are does nothing for anyone except fuel this bizarre online vigilantism.

I've been doing on-screen broadcasts for around 18 months now. I've been receiving negative, targeted attacks - usually about my appearance - for just as long.

Last night was the first time I felt physically disgusted by the comments directed at me. By a landslide, these were the worst I've faced.

These are messages that were posted publicly. Deliberately targeted at and addressing me. During Facebook Lives, the comments usually appear on screen while you're broadcasting.

I'm grateful that wasn't the case last night.

As one of the moderators on Newshub's page, I was able to remove these comments quickly - and permanently remove the perpetrators. Moderation isn't the issue here. The problem was these men feeling comfortable posting this in the first place.

There's another reason I'm grateful.

While working for Newshub, I've helped my friends and colleagues manage their inboxes on their public pages.

And what I faced last night? That's nothing compared to what men send to them directly and privately. With the belief that no one but themselves and the person they're messaging will see them.

So men, I ask you: stop being terrible.

Breanna is Newshub's deputy social media manager.

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