Huge surge in Facebook threats

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POLICE are dealing with a huge increase in reports of people in Edinburgh being threatened and abused on website Facebook.

Lothian and Borders Police has recorded more than 100 separate cases in the last year compared with just a handful the year before.

There are now warnings the problem is set to get even worse. It comes as one of the first cases of cyber-stalking is reported in the Lothians.

The victim today reveals to the Evening News how he was bombarded with e-mails, texts, and calls from a woman who used social networking sites to find out where he was.

Figures released to the Evening News under freedom of information laws show 106 reports to the police of abusive comments, account hackings, inappropriate pictures, bullying and racist comments made on Facebook in 2010.

It is not known if any charges have resulted from complaints.

&#149 Victim of cyberstalker tells of living nightmare

DC Derek Graham of the Child Protection Internet Investigation Unit said there had been a steady rise in the number of reports. He said: "Facebook is the biggie, and we get a lot of reports of someone harassing somebody or posting inappropriate pictures.

"For example, a boyfriend who has broken up with his girlfriend might use her login to write abuse on her wall, then change the password. Or teens might fall out and post abuse on each other's pages."

A total of 51 Facebook threats were deemed serious enough to report to police, while there were 19 incidents of abusive comments, four account hackings, four cases of unwanted contact, four fake pages, seven inappropriate messages and 13 concerns regarding inappropriate photos. One racist comment and one case of fraud were also reported.

DC Graham said that issues should always first be reported to a site's moderator, but if the harassment continues or worsens, then the police should be involved. A Facebook spokesman said: "The safety of our users is of the utmost importance to us and we work hard to ensure that we have a robust reporting systems in place for people to flag any activity which is against our statements of responsibilities.

"It's against Facebook's policy to bully, harass or intimidate anyone and we encourage our users to report any such abuse. We prioritise reports involving harassment, with most being reviewed within 24 hours."