In 2018 for a period of about 3 weeks I was viciously trolled on Facebook. It was quite the learning experience, albeit and horrible way to learn. Let me share some things with you that could help you if you are ever faced with something like this.
Just because someone isn’t posting day-to-day updates does not mean that they are doing nothing. I had a team of friends (angels) working behind the scenes to help but was advised that I should not engage. We had done EVERYTHING so, well-meaning comments on what I should do, while very appreciated, got to the point of making me feel like I did something wrong and like I was being judged. This is me advising all who may have a friend going through this to just be there for them. I can’t tell you how many people wrote to me, “What did you do to this person?”
I went to file a cyber-bully/harassment claim with the police which is a crime BUT…while they were sympathetic, they are limited in what they can do sans any real threat of death or physical violence. Same story with the DA’s office. Crazy, right?! I would highly advise that as soon as the trolling happens, go straight to the police to file a complaint. This was ultimately what got them to take the page down. The police notified Facebook that a formal complaint was filed and TA DA…page down!
I called the news stations, “Better Get Baquero” and “7 on Your Side” AND several bully help groups and left messages but it had been 2 weeks plus and not one call had been returned. Man, it’s a good thing I wasn’t suicidal…but wait, THEN they would do something…see how that works? Sigh! It’s INSANE that there is no protection for a victim…nothing.
I spent and entire day calling every single department at Facebook and every single division (after voice mail hell each time) and they all ended with them saying, “We don’t do that on the phone, go to Facebook’s help page”. It was a complete waste of time. Facebook’s “help” is a complete waste of time.
When making a complaint, you can only report a “Fake Account” or “Harassing a Friend”. You get their robo-response of “Doesn’t meet with our community standards of harassment.” (?! Really ?!) or, with a few complaints, we got a response that “some” of the content was deemed offensive and taken down, but the Group remained, and every single post was still on the troll’s page which was a fake account. Facebook refused to take this page or the Group down although they did take down another page which had the same content but with the image of an old dead actress. This troll used other people’s images to create pages to publish disgusting content about me on along with some really bad photos gotten from who knows where!
NOTE: This is why protecting your image is so important. Do not allow people to pose ugly pictures of you. Politely ask them to take them down. This is your right.
When Facebook again responded with the robo-response, at the bottom you get faces of sad to happy on their helpfulness. Click the sad face and a box comes up that allows you to elaborate on the offense and why you are displeased with their non-response. Using words like “sue”, “lawsuit”, “bully”, “police” or “terrorism” seems to get someone to actually look at the Group or page and that’s the ONLY time they came back with the next response of “some” content deemed offensive. This is the only way to send a written complaint or response to them that may or may not be read by a human.
For example, a Jewish friend of mine complained about the picture of me with a mocked-up shot of Hitler (hysterically imposed on Karen Mason’s body!) and that was taken down. The 2 photos used from Broadway World of me with two men were taken down because their image was being used…um…what about mine?! Why is my image any less important than the gents? Good for Broadway World for reporting it though. It was illegal for the Troll to take content from their site without photo credit.
All the pictures used were from my website, Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World and many unpublished pictures were from the Metropolitan Room and from MAC functions. This person may also have taken pictures of me themselves and was using them. So, while this person claimed that they did not know me, (to many people who had personal exchanges with them) they are from our community. I have my suspicions on a few people who I had shared with the police along with their IP address which a clever friend found.
What ultimately got them to take the page down though was my public announcement of my going to the police. They also destroyed content (pictures) from my website which, guess what? is illegal. So yes, destroying a photo on someone’s website is more legally enforceable than say, oh…stealing other people’s images and/or writing hateful things about someone in a public forum. Unbelievable, right?!
What I wrote was: “To my cyber trolls be warned that whoever took and cropped the pictures from my website that have appeared on your pages and in the Group, you left a date, time and IP address that the police are now investigating. If I can’t get you for bullying, since it’s illegal to destroy a photo on someone’s site, I will file a criminal charge against you. This is public because I WANT you to see this!” It seemed to do the trick. In less than 4 hours they and Facebook took everything down.
They tried to humiliate me but basically just aggravated me. I know who I am. I did nothing here. Fat shaming me with old pictures only showed everyone how hard I worked to get healthy by losing over 80 lbs. NONE of that bothered me. I have never been ashamed of who I am. Their making fun of my then recently deceased mother was just tacky and showed exactly who they are.
Their being able to continue this reign of terror, because that’s what this was…terrorism…was what got me mad because there was nothing in place to help me, the victim! .
My sweet husband, my family, my friends (many of whom have really shown up during all of this) and my amazing, blessed life is what matters so I advise everyone to take the high road. Try not to engage. Go to the police immediately. Have all your friends file a report with Facebook that you are being harassed. Try to get your web person to find the IP address because that could help identify who the troll is and then give that IP info to the police.
Know who you are and trust that your real friends also know and that they love you. It’s what got me through this nightmare.
If you go to my page on Facebook and scroll down to a post dated September 12th, there is a video of a round table hosted by Richard Skipper where a panel discusses how to deal with this situation.
May this never happen to any of you but, if it does, I hope this information will be helpful.