NEWS

Online hate images targeting Ottawa student probed by police

05/17/2012 09:17 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Ottawa police are investigating an alleged hate crime at Carleton University involving a student who was the target of dozens of image macros — an internet term for pictures featuring superimposed text.

Arun Smith told CBC News that fellow students told him in April that someone posted the pictures of him on a website called QuickMeme, with the hope they'd go viral.

"The impression that they gave me was that they were funny, or something along those lines, until I saw them," Smith said. "And they were not funny. They were phenomenally hurtful, they were harassing, they were libellous, they were hateful, and they were very, very violent."

Dozens of images of Smith were posted on the site with words superimposed. Many made fun of the fact that Smith is openly gay, and some went further than that.

Internet hate messages reach larger audience: police

Smith complained to police and the university, and the posts soon disappeared from the site. But police are still trying to track down the person or persons who posted them.

Acting Insp. John Medeiros said people are just as victimized by internet hate messages as they are by racist graffiti posted in school hallways, for example, with one difference.

"On the internet it could potentially be viewed by a larger audience, absolutely," Medeiros said.

Smith hopes other students won't be victimized the same way. He said he would like to see charges laid in the case, but he also wants an apology and more awareness about the effects of cyber-bullying.

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