The number of cyber crimes being investigated by police has almost doubled in the space of a year.
Durham Constabulary fielded 156 complaints relating to social media – 152 from Facebook and four from Twitter – in 2014, an increase from 96 in 2013.
Cleveland Police received a total of 133 complaints in the same period – 125 relating to Facebook and a further eight connected to Twitter – up from 65 in the previous year.
Thousands of complaints involving social media were reported to forces across the UK last year, including allegations of sexual offences, threats to kill and harassment.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said police and internet providers had a “responsibility” to protect people online, while Facebook insisted it did not tolerate abusive behaviour and urged users to report illegal activity.
Superintendent Paul Giannasi, of the NPCC’s hate crime working group, said: “There have been a number of successful prosecutions against people posting offensive and abusive messages, including under new legislation making revenge pornography illegal.
“In some cases this has led to the offender being imprisoned.
“There is a responsibility on police and internet providers to protect people online.”
A Facebook spokesman said the company responds to appropriate requests from police to provide information about illegal activity to help ensure the site remains a safe place, while a Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.