Trolling and cyberbullying are irritating and potentially harmful habits, and the people that engage in it tend to be those that wouldn’t say boo to a goose if they didn’t have the protection of their computer or mobile phone screen in front of them, but what happens when they’re actually confronted about what they’ve done? Are they as loud and obnoxious in real life as they are behind a keyboard?
Here are three examples of people who wrongly thought they would never get brought to task over their Facebook and Twitter abuse:
1. Knock on Woodhouse
If you were going to pick on anybody on social media, you would think that a professional boxer would not be your first target, but Twitter user James O’Brien tore into footballer-turned-boxer Curtis Woodhouse after a defeat in 2013, branding him ‘a complete disgrace’.
Woodhouse, who said the abuse had been going on for more than six months, decided he had had enough of O’Brien’s Twitter taunts and offered a £1,000 reward to anyone who could give him any information about his persecutor, ending his tweet with a threatening ‘knock knock’.
It worked, and the former English light-welterweight champion was soon making the 66-mile drive from Hull to Sheffield to confront O’Brien in person. It was at that point that O’Brien tweeted his apologies and admitted he was ‘in the wrong’.
Perhaps surprisingly, the feud ended amicably, with Woodhouse and a rather sheepish O’Brien shaking hands on ITV’s Daybreak.
2. The Mensch menace
Another high-profile individual who has confronted her trolls is former Conservative MP Louise Mensch, although in her case it was part of a BBC documentary called ‘Troll Hunters’.
Mensch’s journey from New York to the UK to meet an abusive Twitter user makes Woodhouse’s jaunt to Sheffield look like a short trip down the road, and she was part of a BBC team who wanted to quiz a man about why he had been sending obscene images to Mensch and other women.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the troll was not so keen to engage in discussion when it was directly outside his house and with a camera in his face. The clip can be seen below, starting at the 47-minute mark.
Mensch, it should be said, is not averse to ruffling feathers on Twitter herself, and was accused of cyberbullying a teenager in 2015.
3. Nimrod numpty
One particularly nasty Facebook user was ‘Nimrod Severn’, whose most unsavoury habit was taunting people’s families on tribute pages, sometimes with racist language.
Again, the BBC tracked him down, identifying him as Darren Burton of Cardiff, and asked him how he could justify his behaviour. You can watch a video of this below, although please be advised that it contains offensive and racist language.
In Burton’s case, with his swearing at the reporter and apathetic attitude to the prospect of being arrested, he doesn’t seem a much nicer person in real life than on Facebook.
As these examples show, the internet is not anonymous, and most trolls when confronted turn out to be pretty downright pathetic. If you’re being harassed by a fake Facebook account, you too can locate the culprit yourself with the help of our How to Trace a Fake Facebook Account eBook, currently available for £9.99 with the discount code FBTRACE.