Rising NRL star Ronaldo Mulitalo has called for the government to step up and introduce new social media laws after receiving death threats and disgusting online racial abuse.
The shocking messages can be revealed just seven days after police investigated a teenage fan for racial abuse directed at South Sydney‘s Latrell Mitchell.
Mulitalo has gone public with the abhorrent messages sent to his Instagram in the hope that politicians will urgently introduce policies similar to a car licence, where photo ID and personal details are required to hold a social media account.
One message to the Cronulla Sharks and New Zealand Test winger says: “ur (your) family’s house needs to be ran through by a tsunami.’’
Another says: “couldn’t score a try if ur mum’s life depended on it … ur mums dead now mate.’’
Erin Molan, a pioneer for social media reform, has backed Mulitalo’s bravery to step forward and reveal the disturbing abuse NRL stars deal with after matches.
“I think they’re cowards,’’ Mulitalo said.
“I played the Bulldogs (in a pre-season trial match in February) and I copped things about my family that they should die.
“I’ve copped death threats too, messages too about spitting on my mum’s grave.
Vile messages sent to Ronaldo Mulitalo recently.
“I was close to going to the police, but that won’t have the long-lasting impact that needs to be had with restrictions around social media.’’
Instead of informing authorities, Mulitalo chose to block messages from an abusive fan who bombarded the outstanding talent‘s inbox following the Sharks round one loss to South Sydney, where the winger fell short of placing the ball over the line for a try.
“greasy c. t.....deserve to get a career ending injury,” the message said.
Mulitalo also received racial abuse after a game last year, which he then screenshot and exposed to his followers on Instagram.
“N....a c. t,‘’ the message said.
Mulitalo, 23, said the abuse on social media was widespread across the NRL and that it was time that both the government and parents of teens understood the devastating impact it is having.
“Every player cops it,‘’ Mulitalo said.
“The other day my partner wanted to go through my messages and check what had come through and she got a pretty good reality check on what I’ve got to deal with and what comes through from the other side.
“She was in shock.
“My fear is that younger players than me won’t have the mental strength to handle this abuse.
“Social media has given the world a ticket to get away with it, it’s all too easy to sit on your phone and abuse people.
“As a society, not just the game, we need to introduce better security and verification for young kids, who get on the internet and say things that are disgusting.
“A licence, like a car licence where your details need to be included, is a start.‘’
Molan advocated for new laws to protect the safety of Australians online - which resulted in new legislation, the Online Safety Act, in 2021.
The world-first legislation provides the eSafety Commissioner with new powers to address cyber abuse and cyber-bullying, as well as protect children and adults from harmful online behaviour.
However, Molan said the abuse of Mulitalo and other athletes was further evidence that more needs to be done to wind back the ease of which social media is used as a platform for hate.
“If you had to log and register your personal identification to hold a social media account, I think that would make so much difference,” Molan said.
“What that does to the mentality of someone is, if they’re using their licence to register online and they’re going to send those messages to Ronaldo, which are horrific in nature in every way, 99 per cent of people wouldn’t do it.
“Because they’re weak, they’re cowards, they’re scared.
“But if they knew they were easily identifiable they just wouldn’t do it.
“People always argue that you have to protect free speech. Free speech is not threatening someone‘s family.’’
Former NSW State of Origin captain Paul Gallen echoed both Mulitalo and Molan‘s push for change.
“It‘s open slather for anyone to abuse another person,’’ Gallen said.
“In what part of society do we think it’s okay to racially abuse or attack another person’s family?
“The government has to look at a registration system that is no different to getting a car licence or joining a bank.
“Let’s see how many of these cowards want to attack another person when their details are being kept on file.’’