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Brighton mum launches legal battle against Facebook trolls
2:00pm Wednesday 16th May 2012 in News
A mother has launched a landmark legal battle to unmask the cyberbullies who have taunted her.
Brighton woman Nicola Brookes, who was hounded by “trolls” impersonating her on Facebook, is planning to take the social networking site to the High Court to demand it hands over the details of the trolls.
Ms Brookes suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza.
Her lawyers hope to be able to force Facebook to hand over the details of the computer addresses for those responsible for harassing her so she can launch a civil prosecution against them.
If Ms Brookes’ case is successful it would be the first time Facebook has been made to hand over users’ details.
She said: “Somehow these people recently got hold of my home address and started sharing it out amongst themselves.
“They were saying they were going to come down to Brighton and harass me in person. I feel completely exposed and very afraid.
“The authorities have a responsibility to find these people because they are committing a crime and if Facebook can help, they should.”
Rupinder Bains, a partner at Ms Brookes’ specialist internet legal firm Bains Cohen, said: “The first step is to make Facebook provide us details of the trolls.
“By using that information we can then prove who actually did what on Facebook. I believe it is the first time the law has ever been used against internet trolls.”
Sussex Police said it was “notoriously difficult” to trace those responsible for setting up false profiles.
Ms Brookes’ turmoil began when she posted a message on Facebook supporting Frankie Cocozza.
Within 24 hours she had been sent hundreds of abusive messages.
Then she discovered that an internet troll had set up a fake account in her name and was sending messages, many with explicit content, to Cocozza’s 98,000 online fans.
A spokesman for Facebook said the firm could not comment on Ms Brookes’ case.
He added: “We are clear that there is no place for bullying or harassment on Facebook and we respond aggressively to reports of potential abuse. Reports involving harassment are prioritised, reviewed by a trained team of reviewers and removed if they violate our terms.”