An Instagram page created to offer a platform to survivors of sexual assault has been removed, but a new page is picking up the work of Victims Voices Regina.
Victims Voices Regina quickly grew in popularity as anonymous posts were made about alleged sexual assaults in Saskatchewan. The posts often listed alleged perpetrators by name.
In August, a $1M lawsuit was made against Facebook and the page administrators by a Regina teacher who said claims made against him on the page were untrue.
The page has since been deleted, but supporters continue to vocalize their support
A new page with a similar premise was created called Victims Voices YQR.
“The work done by Victims Voices Regina needs to continue,” read the first post on the page.
The next post said “I do not intend to use any identifiers of either party, second hand accounts will not be accepted, any malicious comments will be deleted.”
Ashley Rankin is a survivor from Regina, and also a supporter of the Victims Voices Regina page.
After the lawsuit and the removal of the original page, she created the hashtag, along with Melissa Burdon #WeBelieveSurvivorsRegina..
Rankin said using that hashtag shows support for both survivors and the administrators of the original page. She said she has seen it shared widely.
“The administrators stood up for survivors, and we’re going to have their back now,” Rankin said.
She added she wants to see the ability for survivors to share their experiences continue.
“It was really just a way for them to say ‘this happened to me and I need to tell somebody and I need to talk about it,” she said. “And they received support.”
There were complaints made that there were numerous false claims made on the page.
Rankin, who does not know the administrators of either page, said she believes they were so flooded with comments that it made it hard to vet the stories.
“A lot of fake stories that were shared weren’t really shared to discredit people, they were shared to discredit that page,” Rankin said. “They were shared intentionally to prove that people could do it.”
She said that doesn’t mean the majority of the stories were fake.
Regina-based defence lawyer Aaron Fox said there are a number of legal concerns around these types of pages.
He said the anonymity factor is a concern because it gives people the power to write any story they want - whether it’s true or not.
“If what’s published is true and accurate, then there’s no cause of action of such,” Fox said. “But if what is published is inaccurate or defamatory, then the people responsible for that publication are liable to be sued.”
He said that includes whoever wrote the post, as well as the administrators who post it.
“This platform might be doing more harm to victims’ ability to have their day and be addressed than help,” he said. “Only time will tell.”