In 2012 a woman won court backing to force Facebook to reveal the identities of cyberbullies who targeted her with a string of abusive messages on the website.
Nicola Brookes was granted a high court order after receiving "vicious and depraved" abuse on Facebook after she posted a comment in support of the former The X Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza.
The woman, from Brighton, was falsely branded a paedophile and drug dealer by anonymous Facebook users who set up a fake profile page on the website.
Facebook was forced to reveal the names, email and IP addresses of those behind the abusive messages, showing who they were and where they posted from.
Brookes, who suffers from Crohn's disease, said she was looking for "the strongest possible prosecution" against the internet "trolls".
"I want them exposed. They exposed me and they invaded my life," she added. "I didn't ask for it. They wanted a reaction from me and now they have got it."
But this process could set you back thousands of dollars and very few can afford it.
Identifying bullies without breaking the law is not impossible, and we can do it for you for free, before the bullies destroy your life, or before you do something silly.
WE ALL AGREE
All professionals and authorities agree, anonymous cyberbullies should be identified. So, where do we start? In order to intervene, we must first be able to categorize them.
It is important not to misuse the term bullying for every behavior problem. Can we distinguish bullying from normal conflict? There are three basic points to know when someone is bullying:
- REPETITION: Picks on their target day after day
- POWER IMBALANCE: Wins because their target is smaller, alone (when gang-bullied), younger or less socially able to cope
- INTENT TO HARM: Enjoys seeing their target afraid and upset
And a fourth one, used by AnonymousHarassers.com, to decide whether the user doing the bullying is liable in defamation for the comments/rumours published:
- DEFAMATION: Spreads defamatory rumours aimed at destroying the victim's life, economically, socially and damaging someone’s reputation.
Latest Suspended Harassers: list of harassers we've suspended
WE WATCH AND COLLECT
Anonymous Harassers focuses on public posts and data from bullying websites, such as lolcow.farm - kiwifarms.net - gurugossiper.com and prettyuglylittleliar.com, to identify a cyberbully.
Once a report is received we monitor the user, count the number of attacks, the frequency of the attacks, posts containing defamatory words, rumours spread and the times they log in bullying websites. Meanwhile we collect all data available. Once the user is identified, some screenshots are added to their profile along with a description of the harassment witnessed, the claims and rumours.
Although 10% of the bullies do continue the harassment switching to new anonymous accounts (which we can identify), 90% of the identified users avoid repeating defamatory words or spread rumours in public.
This suggests that by identifying users, is possible to tackle defamation online and consequently cyberbullying and harassment.