You might recall the story ‘Hotties of Melbourne Uni‘ – a Facebook page with more than 13,000 followers, bursting with photographs of unassuming women and littered with offensive, predatory comments.
“Would not bang her even if you paid me.”
“Shoot me with a tranquilliser right now before I go out to hunt!”
“This bloke doesn’t take no for an answer.”
Despite objections to statements like these, Facebook was unresponsive and Melbourne University powerless to take it down. And so the page’s creators remained protected by their anonymity.
At least, until a law student named Laura Blandthorn (pictured below, centre) found a convincing way to appeal to them directly in petition-hosting website Change.org.
It's a medium that, as of the time of writing, four million Australians - or roughly one in six of us - have used.
“The idea of a petition means that people can actually feel like they’re engaging with something, rather than just having a whinge or feeling angry,” Blandthorn told Mamamia.
"They can feel like they've achieved something, because they can see that other people are joining them on that journey."
Blandthorn's campaign ultimately compelled 23,299 signatures, making it one of the ten most successful Australian petitions to be launched on the site so far this year.
“If you want effective change, you really do have to have an ask," said the 28-year-old.
"So I thought I’d do a petition, because then the people who were against [Hotties of Melbourne Uni] and knew it was wrong could join together and have their voices heard, to show the people creating the page that there were more of us than there were of them, that what they were doing was not okay.”
Though optimistic, she never expected the success to come so quickly.
“The petition just had a life of its own,” she said.
“Within a few hours it had over a thousand signatures and I hadn’t even promoted, so it just shows the power of that platform.”
Some of the comments on the 'Hotties of Melbourne Uni' Facebook page.