Dawson attended interview during hospital stay

Charlotte Dawson is in hospital after engaging in a cyber war with bullies on Twitter. Photo / File photo
Charlotte Dawson is in hospital after engaging in a cyber war with bullies on Twitter. Photo / File photo

Hospitalised star Charlotte Dawson reportedly showed up for a 60 Minutes interview just hours after being admitted to hospital following a Twitter spat with online bullies.

Kiwi-born and Sydney-based Dawson, 46, was admitted to hospital early on Thursday after police and an ambulance were called to her inner Sydney residence, the latest chapter in days of cyber-bullying during which she was told to "hang herself".

Dawson was believed to have been extremely distressed over what women's online magazine Mamamia described as "eight hours of unrelenting abuse," following a television interview in which she had detailed the offensive tweets.

The Australia's Next Top Model judge is expected to make a full recovery and she was understood to be having psychiatric treatment.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald reported she left the Emergency Psychiatric Care Unit at St Vincent's Hospital to conduct a 60 Minutes interview on Thursday afternoon, only to return an hour later.

Her agent Kathy Ward defended the interview to the SMH, saying the "lucid" star wanted to discuss online bullying.

Influential social media consultant Laurel Papworth said Dawson broke the cardinal rule of the internet: Don't feed the trolls.

"You never give bullies oxygen and you never feed the trolls," Papworth said.

"By simply retweeting every negative tweet that comes along you're training your community, to get Charlotte's attention, (to) be mean to her...

"Charlotte is obviously a very vulnerable person who has bullied people by calling them 'slags' and 'whores' and whatever else and now she's been bullied herself."

Dawson is in an industry notorious for bullying females, Papworth said on her website.

The incident has led the national crisis support service Lifeline to question the diligence of social media in monitoring cyber-bullying, while others have called for reforms to be stepped up.

Australia's federal government has already been consulting extensively on whether tougher laws for online abuse are needed, but attention to the subject has increased dramatically over the past 24 hours.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy called on Twitter to assist police in its cyber bullying investigations.

He said the US social media giant hadn't co-operated with the Australian Federal Police in previous instances.

"What I would say is that Twitter should co-operate with the police investigation that is now under way to help reveal who these trolls are."

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said online wars of words do "cause enormous grief to families, to those that are the subject of attacks".

"It's a very difficult crime to prove, and it's one that is not that easy to get to the bottom of even where the offence may have been committed, particularly when bullying can take place in one part of the world and affect someone here in Australia," he told reporters.

NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher called for trolls to be dragged out of their mother's basement and put before a court, according to News Ltd newspapers.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott wanted tougher legal powers.

"I don't believe in censoring the internet but we do have to have reasonable protections," Abbott told the Nine Network.

"What we're looking at is more capacity for take-down orders."

Dawson has had a long and controversial career in the limelight.

She recently described New Zealand as "small, nasty and vindictive," which sparked a vicious onslaught on Twitter.

Melbourne's Monash University suspended staff member Tanya Heti who tweeted Dawson, saying "on behalf of NZ we would like you to please go hang yourself".

New laws to curb cyber-bullying seem likely in New Zealand following Law Commission recommendations to make it an offence to incite a person to commit suicide and to legislate against obscene or menacing comments on the internet or in emails or text messages.

Justice Minister Judith Collins recently told parliament about the "devastating effect" cyber-bullying has on young people and said the government would consider all the Law Commission's recommendations.

- AAP with Herald online

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