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  1. ITV Report

Teenager with Down's Syndrome targeted by 'internet trolls'

A 16-year-old girl with Down's Syndrome has said she wanted to cry after hearing "internet trolls" were mocking her image online.

Heidi Crowter from Coventry spoke to ITV’s Daybreak with her mother Liz Crowter, and admitted she was almost brought to tears after learning photos of her were being used by online bullies to insult people with Down’s Syndrome.

They were later removed by Facebook after being reported on its online link and reviewed by its User Operations Team.

Heidi and her mother have also spoken to ITV Central:

On learning that her photo had been stolen from a website for a parents' support group, Heidi said: “It felt like I wanted to cry because they don’t have anything better to do."

Asked if it made her angry, Heidi said: “A little bit, yes.”

Heidi’s mother explained how she discovered the stolen images of Heidi:

We found that a photo of Heidi when she was a toddler was being used on these disgusting pages on Facebook. The photos were taken from our local support group website.The photos had words printed on the photo insulting people with Down’s Syndrome’s intelligence and other people with learning disabilities.

I just was obviously really upset and very angry with the people and just felt really sad that they couldn't do anything better with their time and to take the mickey out of people who can’t always speak out for themselves

Liz said she immediately contacted Facebook to get the images removed. Facebook have said:

Once any offensive images are reported, they will be reviewed by our User Operations team - who are responsible for reviewing incoming reports and taking the necessary action.

Across much of the wider web there are few controls on behavior and the content that individuals can post. That isn’t the case on Facebook. Facebook has a real identity policy, which makes people accountable for their actions and behavior. When people on Facebook do find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable, we encourage them to use our reporting tools so the content or activity can be investigated.

We also have a set of rules that set out how people are expected to behave - the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. These rules are intended to create a balance between enabling free speech and preventing harassment and abuse.