Brighton mum wins bid to unmask Facebook bullies

Brighton mum wins bid to unmask Facebook bullies

Brighton mum wins bid to unmask Facebook bullies

First published in News by , Senior Reporter

An ill mother has won a landmark legal battle to unmask the online bullies who have tormented her.

Brighton woman Nicola Brookes, who was hounded by “trolls” impersonating her on Facebook, took the social networking site to the High Court to demand it hand over the perpetrators’ details.

Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza.

At the High Court a judge ordered Facebook to release the personal details of the offenders, which the US-based company has agreed to do under Californian law.

Now Facebook, which did not contest the order, has four weeks to supply everything it knows about the individuals who made Ms Brookes’ life a misery.

Ms Brookes said: “These people are breaking the law so it is fantastic that we should now be able to find out who they are.

“Hopefully these people are now scared in the same way that I was scared when they were harassing me.”

Four months ago The Argus launched the Safer Surfing campaign to put pressure on Sussex Police to dedicate officers to the detection and arrest of cyber bullies.

Embarrassment

Ms Brookes’ lawyer said the High Court ruling was “an embarrassment” for the force.

Rupinder Bains, a senior partner at Bains Cohen, said: “It should have been the police’s job to get these details from Facebook but they have completely failed in their responsibility to do that.

“After the ruling a senior officer even called to congratulate us on winning the case. But the whole point is that the police should have been dealing with this from the start.

“It should never have taken a private action to help bring these people to justice.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “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.

“The matter is still the subject of an active police investigation and has recently been reviewed.

“We are also seeking information from Facebook and the fact that the High Court has given authority to apply for the information required from Facebook is welcomed and may help our investigation.”

A Facebook spokesman said: “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.”

Comments (13)

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10:28am Fri 8 Jun 12

banargustrolls says...

Excellent
Excellent banargustrolls
  • Score: 0

10:59am Fri 8 Jun 12

Ralph says...

I'm not surprised the Police have received some criticism on this topic. Their resources are being squeezed and this is an entirely new form of criminal activity which demands a new level of understanding by investigators. Hopefully the Argus campaign will continue to encourage action - I suspect a dedicated task force will once day be 'announced' by an opportunistic politician at Westminster. Suggested twitter hashtag for that day #whiteknight
I'm not surprised the Police have received some criticism on this topic. Their resources are being squeezed and this is an entirely new form of criminal activity which demands a new level of understanding by investigators. Hopefully the Argus campaign will continue to encourage action - I suspect a dedicated task force will once day be 'announced' by an opportunistic politician at Westminster. Suggested twitter hashtag for that day #whiteknight Ralph
  • Score: 0

11:01am Fri 8 Jun 12

LB says...

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

so why did she have to get a court order for them to release the details?
"We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice." so why did she have to get a court order for them to release the details? LB
  • Score: 0

11:18am Fri 8 Jun 12

Goldenwight says...

Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza.

Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose...
Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza. Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose... Goldenwight
  • Score: 0

11:52am Fri 8 Jun 12

voiceofthescoombe says...

She had to get a court order because its the law.
Do you want facebook handing your personal data to anyone because somebody complained?
She had to get a court order because its the law. Do you want facebook handing your personal data to anyone because somebody complained? voiceofthescoombe
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Fri 8 Jun 12

fredaj says...

LB wrote:
"We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice." so why did she have to get a court order for them to release the details?
You need a court order because Facebook cannot release personal information about people willy-nilly, just because someone asks for it.
[quote][p][bold]LB[/bold] wrote: "We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice." so why did she have to get a court order for them to release the details?[/p][/quote]You need a court order because Facebook cannot release personal information about people willy-nilly, just because someone asks for it. fredaj
  • Score: 0

1:13pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Number Six says...

Goldenwight wrote:
Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza. Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose...
I'd keep it that way, if I were you.

I've never seen Britain's Got Strictly No Celebrity X-Factor and I never will. I joined Facebook to see what the fuss was about and was bored rigid in five minutes. I'm thinking of starting a new website: Shut Your Facebook
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza. Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose...[/p][/quote]I'd keep it that way, if I were you. I've never seen Britain's Got Strictly No Celebrity X-Factor and I never will. I joined Facebook to see what the fuss was about and was bored rigid in five minutes. I'm thinking of starting a new website: Shut Your Facebook Number Six
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Wiggsy says...

Ralph wrote:
I'm not surprised the Police have received some criticism on this topic. Their resources are being squeezed and this is an entirely new form of criminal activity which demands a new level of understanding by investigators. Hopefully the Argus campaign will continue to encourage action - I suspect a dedicated task force will once day be 'announced' by an opportunistic politician at Westminster. Suggested twitter hashtag for that day #whiteknight
Given how other Argus campaigns have generally slipped quietly away without any real noticeable impact to the (notable) causes it has supported then I wouldn't hold your breath.
[quote][p][bold]Ralph[/bold] wrote: I'm not surprised the Police have received some criticism on this topic. Their resources are being squeezed and this is an entirely new form of criminal activity which demands a new level of understanding by investigators. Hopefully the Argus campaign will continue to encourage action - I suspect a dedicated task force will once day be 'announced' by an opportunistic politician at Westminster. Suggested twitter hashtag for that day #whiteknight[/p][/quote]Given how other Argus campaigns have generally slipped quietly away without any real noticeable impact to the (notable) causes it has supported then I wouldn't hold your breath. Wiggsy
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Fri 8 Jun 12

atlantis88 says...

Number Six wrote:
Goldenwight wrote:
Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza. Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose...
I'd keep it that way, if I were you.

I've never seen Britain's Got Strictly No Celebrity X-Factor and I never will. I joined Facebook to see what the fuss was about and was bored rigid in five minutes. I'm thinking of starting a new website: Shut Your Facebook
Number Six - would you please stop making me laugh !!!!
[quote][p][bold]Number Six[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza. Now, I've never seen this show, nor do I use Facebook. So this story seems more than a little unreal to me. I really ought to join the 21st century and investigate, I suppose...[/p][/quote]I'd keep it that way, if I were you. I've never seen Britain's Got Strictly No Celebrity X-Factor and I never will. I joined Facebook to see what the fuss was about and was bored rigid in five minutes. I'm thinking of starting a new website: Shut Your Facebook[/p][/quote]Number Six - would you please stop making me laugh !!!! atlantis88
  • Score: 0

3:24pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Angryoldman says...

Good on her.
Good on her. Angryoldman
  • Score: 0

8:49pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Morpheus says...

This took a lot of courage. The sooner Faceless is closed down and the investors lose their money the better.
This took a lot of courage. The sooner Faceless is closed down and the investors lose their money the better. Morpheus
  • Score: 0

12:05am Sat 9 Jun 12

Maxwell's Ghost says...

What astonishes me about the Internet is that people post vast amounts of info about themselves on social media and other sites.
Are people unaware of the risk to their own personal details?
I can tell you that as a journalist I used to spend hours door knocking and collecting info for stories. No more. Yesterday it took me 20 minutes to get an individual's personal details from the internet which included address, properties owned, mortgages held and with which banks, business accounts, names and addresses of family and children and all mobile telephone numbers, full cv, education and work history, cars owned, reviews of consumer goods, children's clubs etc and I didn't even seek most of the info. It was just there in a few clicks.
All on the Internet on sites in the public domain. No hacking, no illegal activity all in the public domain on legal websites using Google.
I find it quite terrifying. George Orwell thought Big Brother would be watching but he failed to realise that big brother didn't need to as people are actually posting everything for anyone to see.
What astonishes me about the Internet is that people post vast amounts of info about themselves on social media and other sites. Are people unaware of the risk to their own personal details? I can tell you that as a journalist I used to spend hours door knocking and collecting info for stories. No more. Yesterday it took me 20 minutes to get an individual's personal details from the internet which included address, properties owned, mortgages held and with which banks, business accounts, names and addresses of family and children and all mobile telephone numbers, full cv, education and work history, cars owned, reviews of consumer goods, children's clubs etc and I didn't even seek most of the info. It was just there in a few clicks. All on the Internet on sites in the public domain. No hacking, no illegal activity all in the public domain on legal websites using Google. I find it quite terrifying. George Orwell thought Big Brother would be watching but he failed to realise that big brother didn't need to as people are actually posting everything for anyone to see. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 0

11:35am Wed 13 Jun 12

all_cats_are_grey says...

@ Maxwell's Ghost...

The problem here is not that information was available. The problem is that what was available was used for the purpose of harassing and causing harm to an individual.

I get your point that people are often (sometimes unknowingly) too open with their information, but the fact remains that to be open is not a crime. What is a crime is to take information and use it to attack someone else or steal from them or damage their reputation.
@ Maxwell's Ghost... The problem here is not that information was available. The problem is that what was available was used for the purpose of harassing and causing harm to an individual. I get your point that people are often (sometimes unknowingly) too open with their information, but the fact remains that to be open is not a crime. What is a crime is to take information and use it to attack someone else or steal from them or damage their reputation. all_cats_are_grey
  • Score: 0

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