Nebz Adlay. Beef … Nebz Adlay. Photo: Supplied
The teenagers behind the Facebook page known as “Facebeef” have a knack for creating publicity and courting controversy.
Having built a large online following over the past year, the members of Facebeef have recently featured in mainstream media reports describing them as Australia’s worst internet trolls for their subversive – or as critics say, offensive – antics.
The group’s use of the internet and social media to provoke commentary on a range of people including international celebrities, victims of mass shootings and ethnic groups has resulted in at least one member, Tristan Barker, being investigated by police under stalking laws.
But one of Facebeef’s founders who operates under the pseudonym “Nebz Adlay” says the group has been misunderstood by older generations unfamiliar with the internet and are uncomfortable with its use for comedy and social commentary.
“Comedians using the internet are the punk music of this generation,” Mr Adlay says.
“We will be labelled as evil until it becomes popular, accepted and then commercialised. Then everyone and their dog will make watered down to imitate us.”
Mr Adlay says the six teenage members of Facebeef “are staunch believers in freedom of speech [and] standing up for what you believe in and, most importantly, thinking for yourself”.
“Our humour is not politically correct, but neither is any genuinely funny joke. If all jokes were offensive to no one, we would be left with chicken crossing the road jokes. And even then the chickens might not appreciate it,” he says.
One of Facebeef’s most notorious stunts was its targeting of an online model search competition in Melbourne last year.
The competition’s organisers blame the group for ruining the event and Victoria Police have publicly confirmed it is investigating Facebeef member, Mr Barker, under stalking laws after a female behind the competition received hostile threats online.
Mr Adlay says Facebeef did not harass personally harass the woman nor did it encourage others to do so.
He says the group targeted the modelling competition because it believed the event was “promoting and enforcing the idea that a woman’s merit is based entirely on their physical appearance”.
“There were hundreds of photos under-age girls showing off their cleavage to the thousands of people simply scrolling through and ‘liking’ posts that showed the most skin,” Mr Adlay says.
The Facebeef site on Facebook has about 47,000 likes and Mr Barker’s own personal Facebook page has 300,000 friends.
Mr Barker, 18, was recently reported to be living in New Zealand with his father, musician Michael Barker, a former drummer with Split Enz and the John Butler Trio.
Critics of the group’s activities say the mobilising of its large and internet-savvy fan-base to target particular people or events can result in bullying and harassment.
Mr Adlay says the controversy over Facebeef’s campaigns has been “blown out of proportion”. He says the criticism won’t stop him and his fellow members from using the internet as a vehicle for humour and social commentary.
“We live in an information age,” he says.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.