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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
'Fat library man' bullied online
Text from a Facebook web page
Facebook and the university have condemned the cyber bullying
A university student has been telling how a social networking website was used to set up a group which aimed to target him with bullying and hate.

Graham Mallaghan, 36, who also works as a library assistant at the University of Kent, said the Facebook group had existed for weeks before he knew of it.

It was called "for those who hate the little fat library man".

More than 350 people joined, some of whom have sent personal apologies to Mr Mallaghan now the group has been shut.

One of them read: "My behaviour was everything but mature and responsible."

'Deeply offensive'

Facebook groups are set up on a huge range of topics and interests, and they can then be joined and contributed to by individual users.

Mr Mallaghan, a postgraduate student, said he understood the pages about him were created in March.

He said: "There was a picture of me that one of them [the group members] took on his phone.

"There was one guy who wanted to beat me up on the way home.

"I felt sorely abused. It does take away your confidence."

Graham Mallaghan
Mr Mallaghan said he felt "sorely abused" by the Facebook group

Mr Mallaghan works in the library at the University of Kent's Canterbury campus.

A university statement said: "We have no objection to students using sites such as Facebook as long as they do so in a responsible manner.

"However, we draw the line at offensive, derogatory statements and will not tolerate abuse of any kind.

"Some of the comments on the website were deeply offensive and, as Graham's employer as well as his university, we alerted Facebook to this contravention of their code of practice."

Facebook said it reserved the right to shut down offensive profiles with hateful or harmful behaviour.

The website's terms of use say members may not post material which could "intimidate or harass another".

Mr Mallaghan has his own personal Facebook pages, but the group targeting him is no longer on the site.

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