Facebook ordered to unmask online 'trolls'

Britain has very severe hate speech laws so these guys are going to be in a heap of trouble, with jail sentences likely. I can't say I have any sympathy for them. They will almost certainly turn out to be nothing but a bunch of cowardly losers

IN a landmark ruling, a London court has ordered Facebook to reveal the identities of internet "trolls" who abused and tormented a British mother after she wrote a message in support of a reality TV contestant.

Nicola Brookes' ordeal began last November when she learned that an ousted singer on the UK version of The X Factor had received hateful comments on the social networking website, The Argus reported.

In a bid to cheer up the besieged contestant, Frankie Cocozza, Brookes wrote on Facebook, "Keep your chin up, Frankie, they'll move on to someone else soon".

Within 24 hours, Brookes was flooded with hundreds of abusive messages. Her attackers also set up a fake Facebook profile in her name, and published her home address in Brighton, Sussex, 87km south of London.

The 45-year-old, who suffers from Crohn's Disease, said she reported the matter to local police but they did nothing.

Brookes took the matter to the High Court in London which ruled that Facebook had four weeks to release the internet protocol (IP) addresses and other personal information of the accused trolls.

"These people are breaking the law so it is fantastic that we should now be able to find out who they are," Brookes said. "Hopefully these people are now scared in the same way that I was scared when they were harassing me."

A Facebook spokesman said there was "no place for harassment" on the social networking website, adding that the company, which is based in California, would comply with the order.

Once the information is released, Brookes will take legal action against her abusers, The Independent reported.

"I'm going for the strongest possible prosecution against these people," she said. "I want them exposed. They exposed me and they invaded my life. I didn't ask for it. They wanted a reaction from me and now they have got it."

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