DO you want to know what fear feels like in our brave new world?
Imagine waking up to hundreds of concerned friends leaving you messages because someone is populating every post you’re involved with on Facebook with disgusting untrue claims about you.
Even if a Facebook profile is relatively locked down, friends of friends can post. If you’ve got a few hundred friends and they’ve each got a few hundred friends the odds of one of them having an axe to grind and not understanding defamation law starts to climb.
Fear is hearing from friends that the same lies are being spread on every open Facebook group in town.
Fear is knowing that everyone who ever felt slighted or done down by you are watching this all and feeling their prejudices confirmed.
The advice when being subjected to this sort of abuse is to block the abuser.
This is bloody awful advice.
Once you block them you can’t see what they’re posting and you can’t contact them to tell them to stop, and you can’t even see their posts on your own Facebook profile to delete them. Everyone else can see them.
So you have to unblock the axe grinder, which lets them back into your life, and then you have to wait 48 hours before you can block them again.
Try contacting Facebook about the abuse? They’re even less helpful than the advice to block the abuser.
They want a specific link to the abusive comment. Not much help when this stuff has been pasted in hundreds of places, not all of them known to you.
In this case we’re talking about a single protagonist. Imagine the sheer terror if even just a half dozen are in on the game?
If you’ve followed Facebook’s advice and blocked the grief giver they’ll ask you to enlist a friend to produce the evidence, with vile lies this might not be in your top list of things you want to do, or that your friends want to do.
If you’ve deleted the abusive post on your profile (but know there are hundreds more spread out there) the Facebook admins will blithely say the one post you reported is no longer online so don’t worry.
They won’t get out there and pursue all the other defamation you’re not specifically aware of.
With the fear in full flight imagine how it feels when every single notification comes up on your phone?
Have they started again?
Every single beep and bingle on your phone can be, and until you check it is, the start of another torrent of abuse.
You can go see a lawyer. The lawyer can get an injunction, the wheels of justice can turn expensively and slowly, but every beep is another awful lie being spread.
In the case I’m talking about the victim unblocked the abuser and gave them an ultimatum of stopping it or having their lives sued out of existence, for now they’ve stopped.
But it’s still too late. The poison is out there. Some people will believe it.
If you see something awful on social media the real question shouldn’t be “did they do it?”, but “why didn’t the accuser take this to the police instead of spreading it here?”