It goes without saying, social media has changed the ways communities interact.
The ease with which we can contact others, share their joy and our own and also participate in special interest and community groups is invaluable.
Spread the word pages, or other community groups, on Facebook are a case in point.
All of them overwhelmingly provide a reasonable service in disseminating useful information about what's happening in the community.
From training times for the soccer, to internet outages, and from pub specials to the ubiquitous lost dogs, these pages provide a service that was once the domain of noticeboards and the classified section of this paper.
On the whole the sites are usually well moderated and misinformation is difficult to find.
I really feel for her and her family and I totally understand where she's coming from because I was very worried that I would get the same reaction.Lyn Davidson
There are rare occasions though when fear, anger and outrage by an ignorant few spills out onto the pages causing unnecessary distress for individuals and families.
When news whipped around the town that there were three positive COVID-19 cases in Blayney - there's now six, as per the latest update on Friday - posts on the spread the word pages initially announced cases had been identified.
Soon after though, among the positive messages of support for the family, came the accusations the family had deliberately visited the supermarket and had carelessly brought the disease into the community.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, and yet those accusations were allowed to linger on some pages, causing untold stress to a family that loves the town and had chosen to move to Blayney.
In a passionate post on spread the word in Blayney the mother of the family involved rightfully stood up for herself and her family, damning those who had drawn the conclusion the family had irresponsibly doomed Blayney's inhabitants by their actions.
Clearly the lack of further infection in the community is proof that it isn't so. Of the six cases in the Blayney LGA, all are household contacts of previous cases and haven't been infectious in the community.
And the family aren't alone when it comes to the barbed comments of keyboard warriors.
Former Blayney resident Lyn Davidson contracted COVID-19 on the Ruby Princess in 2020 and was one of the original infections in Australia. On her diagnosis of COVID-19 Ms Davidson has said that at the time she was worried about any repercussions that could come of it.
"At the time it was all very new and frightening. I had the disease that had killed so many people and it's a shock because of the emotions that go through you when you've unknowingly brought a disease like this into the community," she said.
"It's bad enough to have the disease and dealing with illness itself, without having to worry about what's going on in the community.
"I really feel for her and her family and I totally understand where she's coming from because I was very worried that I would get the same reaction.
"The pressure and the negativity from some in the community is why I chose to stay anonymous, however the overwhelming response was one of support and positivity."
In many ways some of the comments posted are slanderous and the administrators are wise to quickly moderate them to avoid being sued by those attacked.
A recent decision by the Supreme Court of New South Wales has determined that administrators of Facebook pages may be considered the 'publishers' of posts by others, and may therefore be liable for defamatory comments.
None of us want to see these pages go down that route, we all enjoy the jokes, the photos, the business news and specials. Besides, there's always a stray dog that's missing its owners.
The administrators of Spread the Word in Blayney did not respond to a request for a comment. Australian Community Media isn't publishing the family's name out of respect for their privacy.
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