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Judge orders Facebook to reveal details of suicide images

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/07/2015

Facebook must disclose if any images of real or simulated suicides have been posted on its website, a High Court judge has ordered
Facebook must disclose if any images of real or simulated suicides have been posted on its website, a High Court judge has ordered

Facebook must disclose if any images of real or simulated suicides have been posted on its website, a High Court judge has ordered.

Mr Justice Stephens also directed the social networking giant to provide information on pornographic material put up by its users.

Information is being sought as part of a lawsuit being taken against the company on behalf of a vulnerable Northern Ireland schoolgirl who set up accounts to contact men and post sexual photos.

Facebook is being sued by her father for alleged negligence and breaching the girl's right to privacy.

Under its policy no one under 13 is allowed to be a user.

But with the girl now under a care order, lawyers for her father claim an open registration system meant it was too easy for her to establish profiles and potentially risk exposure to paedophiles and extreme content.

From the age of 11 she created four different accounts to publish sexually suggestive and inappropriate photos, the court heard previously.

She received text messages with extreme sexual content from men as a result of her personal details appearing on Facebook, it is alleged.

However, her accounts were deactivated as soon as reports were received by the company.

The girl's barristers, Edward Fitzgerald QC and Peter Girvan, argue that Facebook should have done more to stop her setting up and operating accounts.

As part of continuing legal preparations they sought an order compelling the social media company to provide more information on site content and what supervisory steps were taken.

Mr Justice Stephens confirmed yesterday: "In relation to... both real and simulated suicide and pornographic images, I consider both of these should be answered."

All available information is to be provided before trial of the action, listed for hearing at the High Court in Belfast in September.

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