A woman who was falsely accused of being a drug dealer and a paedophile by social network trolls has had her campaign to have online bullies identified backed by the high court. This means slanderous and hateful commenters will have their IP addresses exposed by Facebook and that they could face criminal charges and prosecution.
Nicola Brookes of Brighton was targeted after she posted comments relating to the X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza and then had to deal with a relentless ordeal of torment by online social networkers, none of whom were traceable because there was no way to identify or locate their IP addresses – this is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies every PC attached to the Internet and makes it possible to trace offending and abusive users. Facebook allows abuse to be reported but often punishment extends no further than a virtual slap on the wrist in the form of a warning email, and IP addresses are currently not made public on any user profiles.
The abuse against Ms. Brookes is even said to go so far as members of the hate mob creating a fake profile under her name and using her photos which they then used to send sexually suggestive messages to underage girls. With the high-court on its doorstep Facebook promised action be taken without hesitation and in a statement said “We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice.”
Staggeringly, a figure suggested by the internet claims that 100,000 Facebook users commit suicide per year due to being pushed over the edge by bullies.
DirectGov includes information and resources regarding cyberbullying which can be read in full on its website.
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