British court orders Facebook to reveal trolls

Nicola Brookes, a 45-year-old mother, was harrassed and called a pedophile after supporting a contestant on The X Factor.  


Kevin Collier


Published Jun 8, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 4:02 pm CDT

After hearing the pleas of an Englishwoman who was victimized by trolls on Facebook, a court has ordered Facebook to reveal her assailants’ true identities.

The incident reportedly started when the woman, Nicola Brookes, 45, went to a Facebook page devoted to Frankie Cocozza, her daughter’s favorite contestant on the reality competition, The X Factor.

Seeing that a number of commenters were mocking Cocozza, who was reportedly kicked off the show for bragging about drug use, Brookes said she wrote words of encouragement:

“Keep your chin up, Frankie,” she wrote, adding that Cocozza’s haters would “move onto someone else soon.”

She was right.

That comment was enough for the trolls to jump onto her instead. (Brooks insists that’s the extent of her interaction on the page.) She also claims they posted her home address and photos of her daughter on the page, and called her a pedophile.

The trolls also allegedly made a fake profile for Brookes, which they used to solicit children for sex. That was enough to cause Brooks to sue at least four of the trolls. The court sent Facebook its order on May 30, and Facebook is expected to respond soon, although it hasn’t yet.

It doesn’t happen often, but Facebook does comply with courts who subpoena the service for user information. That usually means all the information that user stores on the account, as well as login information, which includes Internet protocol (IP) addresses used to access those accounts.

“I want them exposed,” Brookes said.

“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.”

It’s against Facebook’s Terms of Use to use a fake account. Rupinder Bains, a partner at the firm representing Brookes, said that if any of the trolls never entered their real name or contact information into their accounts, they might ask the court to subpoena their Internet service providers for the names associated with those IP addresses.

“In the States people have committed suicide over this,” Baines said. “That’s what will happen over here if things don’t change.”

Photo of Cocozza via Facebook

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*First Published: Jun 8, 2012, 3:20 pm CDT