Former City Councillor Aaron Keown Urges Facebook Followers To Send Abusive Messages To Crank Caller

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By Anne Lu | November 13, 2013 9:59 PM EST

Former city councillor Aaron Keown is under fire for encouraging people to send abusive messages to a woman. The controversial Christchurch politician posted a woman's number on his Facebook page, telling his followers that the woman deserves to receive abusive messages and crank calls.

"Had another crank message today from some nut job but this time they didn't have a blocked number. She didn't leave her name just a rude message about the election.

"So if you are bored feel free to send her abusive messages or do a crank call, its obviously what she's into," (sic) his post read as he included the number. "Don't hold back, she doesn't."

Mr Keown received some supporting replies, with one Facebook user even took the time to search on Google who owns the number. However, when someone called him on subjecting a woman to bullying, he replied, "Its not a woman, its a mans phone!" (sic)

He told The Star that the message the woman left on his phone was related to his losing his city council seat. Mr Keown lost his seat at the local body election in October. He remains a member of the Shirley-Papanui Community Board and Canterbury District Health Board, however.

University of Canterbury law professor Ursula Cheer told Fairfax NZ News that Mr Keown's action acould be considered harassment or could potentially be illegal under the new anti-cyberbullying laws.

"To incite others to abuse others online is going much further than [the original call]," Ms Cheer said, adding, "I don't believe this is acceptable behaviour from anyone."

The proposed Harmful Digital Communications Bill will make it an offence for people to send messages or post materials that cause harm. Violators may face up to three months in jail or be given $2000 fine.

Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck also thought that Mr Keown's post was "not okay for anyone."

"It's not in the slightest bit helpful, especially for an elected member."

But Mr Keown isn't repentant. He was only retaliating against his abuser, he claimed, saying that the owner of the phone was a man who was "politically active" and known to him.

"I'm not retaliating against a stranger," he told The Press.

A man answered the phone when The Press called the posted number, but the man denied knowing Mr Keown, and that he had several staff who also used his phone.

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