A well-known Samoan author claims police told her "what do you expect us to do about it?" when she reported online threats of rape and violence to the extent of being "chopped up into pieces."

Lani Wendt Young, who wrote the young adult series TELESA, took to Twitter this week saying she was disappointed police were so limited in resources and expertise to address cyberbullying.

On Twitter, Wendt-Young said she went to NZ Police with a folder of more than 800 screen-shots of online Facebook abuse she had received including rape and death threats.

Young said the first officer she spoke to told her "even the FBI can't make Facebook do anything" and "what do you expect us to do about it?".


Talking to the Herald Wendt-Young said while she found some of her experience with New Zealand Police lacking and hurtful they were not the main problem.

"I believe they're operating within legislation that's limited, and dealing with social media providers that have very little to not accountability whatsoever."

While police did not respond directly to Wendt-Young's criticism's, a spokeswoman said cyberbullying was an issue police took very seriously.

"There are always challenges in investigating online offending and the introduction of more technology and mobile applications means this is continually changing," she said.

However, under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDC) Police has a number of avenues to prosecute and there has been an increase in the prosecutions since the Act was introduced.

"We encourages people to contact us immediately if they believe they or someone they know, are a victim," the spokeswoman said.

Wendt-Young said she thought it was important that police were better informed about this issue and that they recognise online abuse is just as harmful and damaging as 'real life' abuse.

On Twitter, Young said the police referred to the abusers as "trolls" but that was playing it down.


"They are people who threaten to rape you, chop you in pieces, burn your house down, and bash your partner. They even target your children."

Young said police advised her to stop writing about topics that make "trolls" angry and to stop calling out the people who made the threats it only incited them more.

But she said people did need to speak out publicly about threats and abuse.

"Please don't tell us it's 'just trolls' or say we are 'seeking attention'.

"When I see leaders like Marama Davidson speak out about online abuse I am grateful. Hopeful. Because it needs more women in power to talk about the harmful effect of 'trolls'."

Under The Harmful Digital Communications Act, Netsafe offers a free service for people in New Zealand to help with online bullying, harassment and abuse – it is available seven days a week on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723).