Belfast Telegraph

Defamatory video must be removed

Global internet giants Google, YouTube and Facebook have been slapped down by a judge and ordered to remove a defamatory viral video from websites around the world.

Eoin McKeogh, 23, a student, has won a long-running battle against the companies after he was wrongly identified as a fare dodger filmed getting out of a taxi in Dublin.

Google, YouTube and Facebook have been given one month to get the defamatory video and related comments, tags and threads off the internet, worldwide.

In a swingeing criticism of social media and the three internet companies' refusal to act sooner, High Court Judge Michael Peart detailed some of the damage the viral video has done.

"All manner of nasty and seemingly idle minds got to work on the plaintiff, and as seems to happen with apparent impunity nowadays on social media sites, said whatever thing first came into their vacant, idle and meddlesome heads, by posting statements and comments about the plaintiff, so vile and abusive that I ought not to repeat them here," the judge ruled.

"It must be borne in mind that most of these people do not know the plaintiff and have never met him. Nevertheless they felt free to name and brand him as a criminal."

The clip showed a group getting out of a taxi in Monkstown, south Dublin and dodging the fare late at night in November 2011. The taxi driver posted it on YouTube in a bid to identify them sparking a raft of defamatory posts wrongly naming one of the runners as Mr McKeogh, a student at Dublin City University.

The judge described the online abuse Mr McKeogh faced on YouTube and Facebook as "a miscellany of the most vile, crude, obscene and generally obnoxious comments".

A fake Facebook profile was also created on the back of the video. Mr McKeogh had been in Japan at the time of the incident with passport stamps to prove it.

A full ruling on damages will take place at a later date.


From Belfast Telegraph