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Internet ‘trolls’ disrupt online dance session with offensive April Fools Day prank

PUBLISHED: 12:30 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 April 2020

An online dance session for older carers was disrupted by a group of teenagers on April Fools Day. Picture: PA Images

An online dance session for older carers was disrupted by a group of teenagers on April Fools Day. Picture: PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

An online dance session for older carers was hijacked this morning by teenagers who “descended en masse” into the virtual gathering sharing offensive and racist imagery.

The Carers Collective dance troupe  were exposed to offensive and racist imagery and language when teenagers hacked their online dance session.  Picture: Anne-Marie PayneThe Carers Collective dance troupe were exposed to offensive and racist imagery and language when teenagers hacked their online dance session. Picture: Anne-Marie Payne

About 50 people hacked into the Zoom session, run by dance teacher Rachel Sparks, using fake email addresses having all registered at the last moment.

Anne-Marie Payne from City and Hackney Carers Centre told the Gazette about the incident on April 1: “A bunch of internet trolls descended en masse, too quickly for us to boot them out of the session, and quickly started sharing their screens full of pictures of women taking their tops off, swastikas and more.”

Anne-Marie set up The Hackney Carers Collective for carers aged 50 plus so that older carers could collaborate on artistic projects.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown they have moved their dance sessions online.

Hackney Carers Collective have been streaming dance classes on Zoom to help carers over 50 keep connected during the lockdown. Picture: Anne-Marie PayneHackney Carers Collective have been streaming dance classes on Zoom to help carers over 50 keep connected during the lockdown. Picture: Anne-Marie Payne

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“We’re trying to reassure our carers that the internet is not a scary place and that connecting digitally during this time is still a good idea.

We’ve changed our settings so that it can’t happen again - you live and learn!” said Anne-Marie.

City and Hackney Carers Centre has post-poned most of its Carers Collective group activities and Brocals group gatherings due to Corona virus but will continue to host online dance sessions.

Dance teacher Rachel Sparks hosts the online dance sessions and ran a course for Hackney Carers last year. Picture: Anne-Marie PayneDance teacher Rachel Sparks hosts the online dance sessions and ran a course for Hackney Carers last year. Picture: Anne-Marie Payne

One on one counselling, coaching and advice sessions are still being offered via telephone, e-mail and Skype.

To learn more about Hackney Carers visit https://www.hackneycarers.org.uk/

Find out more about The Carers Collective at www.carerscollective.org and to find out more about the multi-generational social club for men Anne-Marie also set up visit: www.brocals.org


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