By NICK FRANCIS, ANTONELLA LAZZERI and LUKE HEIGHTON
CRUEL internet “trolls” are tormenting the family of missing Madeleine McCann, it has emerged.
The revelation follows the jailing of a sicko who posted videos and messages mocking dead girls.
The Sun today urges our readers to combat the menace of trolls.
Our Target A Troll campaign is being launched amid revelations that grieving families of a host of high-profile crime victims and celebrities have been plagued by weirdos making “fun” of tragedy.
Those rocked by vile web comments and videos include relatives of Madeleine McCann, Amy Winehouse, Jade Goody, Sarah Payne and murdered teenagers Sally Anne Bowman and Jimmy Mizen.
Trolls lurk on net favourites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Bebo and Formspring.
But they can be fought if they are reported to website administrators or, in extreme cases, to police. The Sun is also calling on internet service providers to hand over details of trolls to cops. The shocking list of victims came to light after Tuesday’s court case in which twisted Sean Duffy, 25, was jailed for posting vile “jokes” about a string of dead girls.
Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Maddie — who vanished in 2007 a few days before her fourth birthday — have been persecuted for years.
A hoax Facebook page set up last year was called: “If 2 million people join this group I will give back Maddie McCann.” A web campaign to shut it down was successful — but not before it was also trolled by a Facebook user who wrote: “Who agrees the parents did it?”
The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “There is constant activity by these ghouls. They have accused Kate and Gerry of child neglect and worse, and covering up Madeleine’s death.
“All the photos of Madeleine they released have been doctored in the most horrible way. One post tried to orchestrate a campaign where dog excrement was sent through their letterbox.”
Mr Mitchell added: “The trouble is that it is very hard to stop these people. They hide away behind their computer screens, blogging away.”
Tragic singer Amy Winehouse became a focus for trolls after her death in July.
YouTube sickos posted a video called “Bye Amy love the trolls” in which they superimposed her face on a toy troll with needles in her hair.
A viciously inaccurate message on website memebase.com read: “Amy Winehouse, sang about not going to rehab, then OD’d.”
Perverted Colm Cross, 36, was given 18 weeks in jail for trolling on tribute pages for late Big Brother star Jade Goody, a cancer victim.
Cross, of Manchester, boasted of imaginary acts of necrophilia — a sexual attraction to corpses. The prosecutor at his trial said: “He found the comments amusing. He said they gave him no sexual arousal but he enjoyed the comments made in reaction.” Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by sex beast Roy Whiting in 2000, has been put through untold torment.
She branded trolls “unspeakably depraved and cruel”.
And her close friend Shy Keenan, who runs anti-paedophile organisation Phoenix Chief Advocates with Sara, said: “She has been subjected to the most vile abuse online.
“When she was recovering from a stroke, they were posting messages saying she should have been raped and killed like her daughter was. They also said it was Sarah’s fault she was killed because she got in Whiting’s van.”
Ghouls have also hounded Linda Bowman, whose model daughter Sally Anne was raped and stabbed to death in 2005, just after her 18th birthday.
Linda said: “A troll pasted Sally Anne’s photo on the body of a naked porn picture of a woman and posted it on tribute websites with vile messages.
“Another posted, ‘She deserved to die dressed like that and I’d have given her one’.” The mum, of Croydon, South London, added: “I have cried buckets over what these people have done.”
The family of schoolboy Jimmy Mizen — murdered in Lee, South-East London, just after his 16th birthday in 2008 — told how a Twitter group posted “terrible things” about him.
The lad’s elder brother Billy said: “The culprits definitely wanted the family to see what they were saying. They need to realise their actions are extremely hurtful.”
Dad Robert Mullaney’s 15-year-old son Tom hanged himself after a school argument in Birmingham last year. He told how a picture of the lad with a noose around his neck appeared online.
A caption with it read: “Hang in there Tom.”
Last night Sherry Adhami, of the charity Beatbullying, called for government action to stop the trolls. She said: “It’s time that preventing bullying at source is placed higher on their agenda.”
Idiots are very easy to locate
myView, By DAVE WHITELEGG, Cyber Security Expert
THESE twisted individuals are idiots — they assume they are anonymous online.
But their internet service provider can track their IP address and hand over their details to the cops.
Everyone has an IP address for their internet account which is linked to their name, address and any other details they gave to set up the account.
If the police want to track someone posting abusive messages, they simply speak to the internet service providers who have a record of everything which is written online.
There are some things you can do to limit the chances of being attacked.
Only be Facebook friends with people you know and trust. Parents can also make themselves friends with their kids, to monitor anything going on.
There are no instant answers to eradicating this kind of cyber-bullying, but if kids get educated about the internet they can avoid it much more easily.
The internet has the very best of life, but also the very worst.
Outsider’s pain goes to victims
myView, By PHILLIP HODSON, Psychotherapist
THE internet is the revenge playground of the impotent — a fantasy world for deluded, anonymous vandals.
Sean Duffy’s actions will have caused maximum offence and great pain. But we need to know why he did it to get through to him and people like him.
He probably felt something was missing from his life, that he was an outsider, that if he died no one would miss him.
That is why he felt hostile towards Natasha’s parents. He will have looked at their pain and decided to deepen it to lessen his own.
Making people scared is also a way of having power. It is also exciting.
We’ve been told Duffy is autistic. Many autistic people have to be taught how other people feel.
But this is no excuse for his devastating actions.
When someone says, “This is the truth about your daughter”, it is hard not to let it affect you, even if you know it is not true. For these parents, the effects are unlimited.