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Teen girl suing Facebook over 'revenge' photo

By Alan Erwin

Published 09/09/2016

The case is believed to be the first case of its kind in the world
The case is believed to be the first case of its kind in the world

A photograph of a 14-year-old Northern Ireland girl was repeatedly posted on a Facebook "shame" page, the High Court heard yesterday.

Lawyers for the child allege the image was obtained from her through blackmail and put online as a form of revenge.

She is suing the social media giant and the man suspected of posting her photo in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the world.

Facebook is attempting to have the claim against it dismissed, arguing that it always took the picture down once it was notified.

The girl, who cannot be identified, is seeking damages for misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the Data Protection Act.

Her photo was said to have been posted on a so-called shame page several times between November 2014 and January 2016.

Barristers Edward Fitzgerard QC and Peter Girvan, representing the teenager, claim it was done in revenge and likened it to a method of child abuse. They also contended that Facebook had the power to block any republication by using a process to identify the image.

Mr Fitzgerard told the court that it should have been a "red-line" issue for the company.

"A naked 14-year-old (girl's) picture was being put on a shame page," he said.

"If they had blocked it all this subsequent publication of her naked image would not have taken place."

Brett Lockhart QC, for Facebook, claimed that the case should be struck out before it reaches trial.

He relied on a European directive, arguing that the regulation provides protection from having to monitor a vast amount of online material for what is posted on one page.

However, Mr Lockhart also stressed that the social network always responded to any reported breaches that were brought to its attention.

Following submissions, judgment was reserved on the application to have the proceedings halted.

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