Nicola Brookes won a case against Facebook, after being the victim of a harsh internet trolling fiasco. Brooks, 45, faced “vicious and depraved” abuse on Facebook, according to the Telegraph. Brookes posted a comment about a former X Factor contestant, Frankie Cocozza, which started the trolling.
Her comment was: “Keep your chin up, Frankie, they’ll move on to someone else soon.” Little did she know the someone else would soon be her.
A group of anonymous people or single person set up a fake Facebook account with Brookes’ picture. The troll posted explicit comments and used them to lure young girls. It also posed her as drug dealer. Brookes’ address and a picture of her daughter were also put on the Facebook account.
The High Court ordered Facebook to hand over who was behind the abuse. This is the first time Facebook has ever been ordered to give out IP addresses.
Brookes is also one of the first victims to fight back. Facebook has removed the page but it hasn’t stopped the abuse against her. She claims it got worse after the High Court ruling.
“The abuse and trolling of me has increased,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “The abuse is absolutely horrendous and nothing can be done about it and nothing can be stopped. No one in authority is stepping in to say enough. I know what I am doing is right.”
Since the ruling, Brookes is taking more legal action. After contacting Sussex Police, who told her they couldn’t help her because proving who led the abuse was impossible. Sussex Police contacted Facebook and asked the international website to remove any abusive posts about Brookes.
“We have looked at the material sent to us by Ms. Brookes and we have told Facebook to remove anything offensive or abusive towards her. We are also seeking information from Facebook and the that the High Court has given authority to apply for the information required from Facebook is welcomed and may help our investigation,” a police spokesman said.
The issue the Sussex Police face is the factor of internationality. The trolls could be anyone, anywhere.
“As Facebook is an international website, millions of people from all over the world use it. We need to gather evidence to prove who the person is for a successful prosecution to take place,” the spokesman continued. “Officers examine any such allegations of bullying, harassment or malicious communication and every case is taken seriously.”
Brookes has been taking all legal action possible and gathered evidence herself after the Facebook reporting tool failed to yield any results or enquiries.
“I printed out hundreds of sheets of evidence and took it to the police station… I said the vile comments made towards me are one thing, that is bad enough, but this person has set up this fake account, a sex account, spreading it all over Facebook with my name and photo; they stole my identity,” she said.
While Facebook has been helping Brookes it’s still proving very difficult to prosecute and find the trolls.
“There is no place for harassment on Facebook, but unfortunately a small minority of malicious individuals exists online, just as they do offline,” said a Facebook spokesperson.