One of the group's members was threatening to attack people, even throwing out the word "rape." Vanessa, 26, informed the group's administrator and the troll was banned.The next morning, Vanessa found that the troll had somehow tracked her down and sent her private messages.This may be a reason some of these sites aren't more closely attuned to this particularly gendered brand of harassment.
" Vanessa did a quick Google search and found that all of her personal information could be easily tracked down using the White Pages, so she immediately hid the information from the public and went to her local police station to file a report.
Things quieted down after that, but one day, she checked the Facebook group's page and saw a post that included pictures of her father taken from his Facebook profile, along with his old street address.
All posts on Facebook include a "report" button, and Vanessa tried to reach someone from the company so that extra attention could be paid to her case, but she found it was "virtually impossible to contact a live human being from Facebook." Then her brother's ex-girlfriend got an anonymous voice mail from someone describing Vanessa as a "cunt." So Vanessa went back to the police.
The cops' only response was to tell her that there was nothing they could do -- the troll hadn't done anything technically "illegal." "My mom nervously joked that the troll would have to kill someone before the police would get involved," said Vanessa.
Some systems can be programmed to flag obscenities, but they're often unable to guard against messages where the abusive language is more subtle.
(Not to mention the fact that plenty of people use curse words and obscenities in friendly messages to each other.) And since several of these platforms allow anonymity, tracing and policing the trolls can be nearly impossible. There are third-party sites like Trolldor, which monitors trolling activity on Twitter and blacklists trolls to "combat the defenselessness" of the platform's users and encourage a "friendly" environment, as the Trolldor FAQ page puts it."I just kept obsessively checking the page, terrified that a post about my mom would come next.The next morning, I publicly left the group, hoping that the troll would see and would leave me alone." Vanessa contacted family members, asking them to heighten their privacy settings to protect themselves.Take the case of Thorlaug Agustsdottir, a woman from Iceland who got into an online disagreement in late 2011 with a user of a Facebook group called "Men are better than women." Soon, a new picture had been added to the page: Agustsdottir's face, Photoshopped to look beaten and bloody, on the body of another woman.Agustsdottir immediately reported the issue to Facebook, but was told the image "does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards on hate speech, which includes posts or photos that attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition.” It wasn't until Agustsdottir took her story to the media that Facebook removed the photo and apologized for the mistake.In two of the messages, the troll had included personal information about Vanessa and her family -- the former mailing addresses of her father and mother, as well as Vanessa's own current phone number.