Facebook Ordered to Unmask Internet Trolls

By Sam Gibbs on at

Internet trolls are a sad reflection of human society let lose on the internet. They spread their bile behind the protection of anonymity, and can follow you anywhere on the internet and out on the street. Now one woman is taking the fight to back to them; she has a court order forcing Facebook to unmask the vile hate mongers.

After being harassed everywhere she went online, including supposedly benign places like recipe forums, Nicola Brookes has finally won the right to pull the veil off the trolls and prosecute them.

It all kicked off when she left a supportive comment for one of the X Factor contestants. She was battered by abuse left, right and centre, and was even vilified as a paedophile, after someone created a fake profile of her and used it to approach young girls with explicit messages. Trolls also managed to get hold of her home address, publishing it in typical internet-scourge fashion.

Brookes went to the High Court for a court order to force Facebook to hand over the IP addresses of the trolls involved. Facebook didn't contest the court order and released a statement saying:

"There is no place for harassment on Facebook, but unfortunately a small minority of malicious individuals exist online, just as they do offline."

"We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice."

Legally, Facebook couldn't do anything to help without a court order as it would have been a breach of privacy, so it was probably pretty happy to see the court order land on its desk. Still, as we all know by now, an IP address doesn't automatically lead to the perpetrator, so the next step will be another court order to get the ISP to pull their records.

We've all suffered internet trolls at one stage or another, and we've even seen what one looks like in the flesh. I just hope Brookes really can get her payback and bring the abusive scumbags to justice. [BBC]

Image credit: Troll from Shutterstock