Sussex

Brighton woman Nicola Brookes tackles 'trolls' after Facebook abuse

  • 15 May 2012
  • From the section Sussex
Nicola Brookes
Nicola Brookes said the abuse started after she posted a message about an X Factor star

A Brighton woman who was abused on the internet is starting legal action to force Facebook to reveal the identities of those who targeted her.

Nicola Brookes was falsely portrayed as a paedophile and drug dealer by so-called internet trolls.

She is taking High Court action to force Facebook help her identify her abusers so she can then prosecute them.

Facebook issued a statement which said there was no place for bullying on its social networking website.

'Organised abuse'

Ms Brookes said one online bully created a fake profile in her name which was used to send explicit messages to girls.

She said: "These abusers are not just random people who have nothing better to do with their time.

"These are organised people who have been operating on Facebook for years."

She said the abuse started six months ago after she posted a message about an X Factor star.

A statement issued by Facebook said: "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people that use our service.

"Unlike other websites and forums Facebook has a real name culture, which provides greater accountability and a safer and more trusted environment.

"We are clear that there is no place for bullying or harassment on Facebook and we respond aggressively to reports of potential abuse."

Detectives 'reviewing case'

The statement said users were given tools to report abuse on every page and the option to block people, and reports of harassment were prioritised.

Facebook has not commented on the legal action.

A Sussex Police spokesman 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 subject of a police investigation and is currently being reviewed by senior detectives to see what further inquiries should be made. Mrs Brookes and her solicitor will be kept in touch with developments."

He added: "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."

He said specially-trained officers examined any such allegations of bullying, harassment or malicious communication.

Ms Brookes's solicitor Rapinder Baines confirmed that the case was currently in the hands of barristers and papers would be lodged with the High Court early next week.

The aim of the High Court action is to make Facebook provide details of computers from which the offensive messages came.

That information would then be used to bring a private prosecution against the abusers.

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