Allegations of online harassment
NKK co-workers Hilde Engeland (lawyer and head of department) and Anne Livø Buvik (communications adviser) have been accused of online harassment by Åshild Roaldset, CEO of the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA). The two women haven’t written anything, nor have they made any comments, but are accused of failing to monitor and edit a comments section on Facebook that neither of them has access to or responsibility for.
It all seems rather absurd, says Hilde Engeland. “I have read the entire complaint that was filed and it makes several bizarre claims".
The NKK’s communications co-workers covered the whole court case as journalists for the Norwegian Kennel Club, posting reports about each day of the appeal on the website (link). The reports were shared on several platforms.
Complaint filed with the police over online report and Facebook comment
On day two of the appeal, Åshild Roaldset testified herself, saying amongst other things that the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals had no views about how a crossbreeding project could be carried out in practice – even though this is what they believe is the solution for the breeds in question. This was quoted in the report, prompting comments from the public.
The comment that Roaldset found most offensive was: “A former colleague of mine always says that ~ the trick is to give them just enough rope to hang themselves…~”
Screenshot of dialogue in FB
In court the next day, Roaldset approached me and asked that the comment be removed. I referred her to the communications department as I don’t administer or edit the NKK’s Facebook account, says Engeland.
She didn’t hear anything else after that until a week and a half later, when the police told her that a complaint had been filed against her, and that it had been dismissed. “Of course it was an unpleasant experience – nothing you’d choose to experience,” says Engeland.
Anne Livø Buvik had been working for the NKK for just 20 days when a complaint was filed against her. “It was an abrupt start, you could say. I was expecting online harassment, seeing as I had started to work for the NKK in the middle of a heated situation, but this groundless complaint was really rather over the top. It isn’t nice to be contacted by the police like that, and I guess that was the point – to make life unpleasant for us.”
“I saw it says in the complaint that Roaldset had approached me to get me to remove the comment. That’s not true. The only time I have talked directly with Roaldset was when we met in a debate on the news programme Dagsnytt 18 this summer. We didn’t exchange words during the court proceedings. And I don’t even have administrator rights to NKK’s Facebook account either.”
However, we discussed the comment internally in the communications department and agreed that as the comment quotes a well-known proverb, it wasn’t problematic, says Buvik.
But Roaldset thought otherwise, and she therefore decided to file a complaint against the two women, without checking to see if they were actually responsible for publishing the comment. She also claimed that the report from the court proceedings was “biased”.
“I’m totally unfazed by this,” says Buvik, who has been a journalist for over 40 years. “I’m a professional, and I made sure my report was correct and balanced. The fact that Roaldset’s remark caused reactions is due to the report’s content, not the way things were presented. I can also see the funny side of being accused of being “biased” when we see what the NSPA post on their own pages, how they describe the Norwegian Kennel Club and the breeders. It’s like throwing stones in a glass house – if I’m allowed to say that,” says Buvik.
Regrettable that employees are subjected to personal attacks
Head of the NKK Tom Øystein Martinsen regrets that his co-workers have come under this kind of attack on false grounds.
If the NSPA wanted to file a complaint, they should have chosen me as CEO and the person ultimately responsible for what we publish on our website and elsewhere. Going after two employees is a strange way of doing things, and there’s reason to suspect that there are personal motives involved, says Martinsen.
What will the NKK do about this matter?
“We haven’t decided yet, but it will have some kind of repercussions. We have no intention of sinking to their level, though, by making personal attacks and meaningless complaints,” Martinsen concludes.