Robbie Farah, the NRL star who has called for tougher laws to fight internet trolls, has apologised for a tweet he sent last year in which he said Prime Minister Julia Gillard should be given a noose for her birthday.
It has been revealed that, in September last year, on Ms Gillard's 50th birthday, Farah responded to a tweet from former league star, now Triple M radio host, Mark Geyer, asking "what would you buy the PM for her birthday? It's her 50th today" with the words: "a noose".
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Farah says sorry over PM noose tweet
NRL star apologises to Julia Gillard, saying he has 'learnt a lot' in recent days.
Later that day he tweeted: "Some people on twitter obviously can't take a joke. Lighten up people." And the next day he tweeted "no one said anything about suicide".
"I make no excuse and offer my sincere apologies," he said in a statement released today. "I can only say that I have learnt a lot in recent days and I hope that everyone in the community can learn about the pain that we can cause through such comments."
Farah said that he had written to Ms Gillard to apologise for any hurt he caused her. "At the time I did think about what I had done and removed the 'tweet' soon after posting it but that of course doesn't repair the damage," he said.
The offending tweets have since been removed by Farah, but Karalee Evans, senior director & APAC digital strategist for public relations agency Text100, was able to use Twitter tool Topsy to find the originals, pictured above. Evans has tweeted that she is now herself being trolled by fans of the footballer.
At the weekend, Farah was sent four tweets from a user who called himself Nathan Elliott Gray. In addition to insulting Farah's late mother, Sonia, one tweet referred to Farah himself as a "football playing f---".
The Wests Tigers captain then called on the Prime Minister and the police to put an end to vicious trolls online.
Ironically, the Prime Minister's office reached out to the Wests Tigers captain on Monday.
The NSW State of Origin player received the support of Premier Barry O'Farrell after calling for tougher laws to step in to stop vicious online trolls and commenters.
"I was very shocked and appalled to receive this vile comment on my Twitter account," Farah said in a statement on Monday.
"While I'm all for banter on Twitter and people expressing their opinions, this was personal about my late mother who I am still grieving about."
Much of the online reaction to Farah's comments was positive, with some people reaching out to him for advice.
"Hey Robbie, I'm having a similar problem ... Who have you contacted that I could speak to," one user asked.
Farah replied: "speak to police mate if they don't leave you alone".
The Australian Communications and Media (ACMA) authority today released guidelines designed to protect internet users from cyber trolls.
The guide outlines five steps, which include "Ignore the troll; block the troll; report trolls; talk with friends and family; and protect friends from trolls".
ACMA's Cybersmart program encourages people to take part in R U OK? Day tomorrow, calling on Australians to connect with each other and to create a sense of belonging.
"Hopefully the whole situation will only serve to encourage everyone to think about what we are really saying before we hit the 'send' key," Farrah said today.
Both "#stopthetrolls" and "Robbie Farah" were trending on Twitter today.