Hateful Facebook page illustrates the difficulty of policing online attacks

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GREENFIELD — Alyssa Winesickle’s cellphone buzzed, just like it always did when someone tagged her on Facebook.

The Greenfield teen expected the usual – a message from a friend, maybe an Internet meme that made its way to her page.

Instead, staring back was her own grinning photo, yanked from her profile and reposted to a public Facebook page alongside a vicious message.

The post accused Winesickle, pictured in a pink baby tee with one hand on her hip and the other outstretched to snap the selfie – of having a venereal disease and purposely getting pregnant to trap her boyfriend in their relationship. The hatred went on for an entire paragraph, targeting not just Winesickle but her newborn son, 1-month-old Brylan.

In an instant, the message was posted for more than 400 of Winesickle’s friends and family members to see, including her mom and grandma.

Social media have made it increasingly easy for teens to attack one another, often behind the shield of anonymous accounts. The problem is tough to track and almost impossible to prosecute.

Cyberbullying is a hot topic among educators, but they, too, say their hands are often tied when it comes to combating what happens online.

For those who are targeted, that sometimes means there’s no choice but to endure humiliation.

For Winesickle, it was at the hands of “Molly Thots,” the administrator of an anonymous Facebook page who encouraged gossip and bullying.

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