Sunday 22 April 2018

Girl (14) settles with Facebook over nude photos on 'shame' page

Stock photo
Stock photo

Alan Erwin

A teenage girl has settled her legal action against Facebook over naked images being posted on a 'shame' page as a form of revenge porn.

The landmark legal action involving the 14-year-old girl was considered the first case of its kind in the world and had been likened to child abuse.

A confidential resolution to the case was confirmed at the High Court in Belfast yesterday.

The teenage girl, who cannot be identified, sued the social media giant and the man suspected of posting her photo.

Her lawyers alleged the image was blackmailed from her, and then published as a form of revenge porn.

Damages

She was seeking damages for misuse of private information, negligence and breach of the Data Protection Act.

But following out-of-court negotiations her barrister, Edward Fitzgerard QC, told the judge: "I'm very happy to be able to inform Your Lordship that the case has been settled."

Facebook will pay the teenager's legal costs under the terms of the resolution, he added.

Proceedings were launched after her photo was allegedly posted on a so-called shame page on Facebook several times between November 2014 and January 2016.

Counsel for the girl, instructed by McCann and McCann Solicitors, previously likened it to a type of child abuse.

It was contended that Facebook had the power to block any republication by using a DNA process to identify the image.

However, in September 2016 the company failed in a bid to have the action dismissed at a preliminary stage.

At that stage it was stressed that the social network always respond to any reported breaches brought to its attention.

The picture was taken down as soon as notification was received, the court was told previously.

Five days had been set aside to hear all arguments in the civil trial.

Legal experts predicted that it could open the floodgates to a raft of further cases involving alleged victims of revenge porn on social media.

However, yesterday Mr Justice Maguire praised the legal teams involved in the case after being informed that the outcome would be a confidential settlement.

Addressing the parties, he said: "Thank you very much for the work you put in today."

Facebook has insisted that it is continuously taking measures to improve its safeguards against inappropriate content being shared via its network.

But the social media giant has been under mounting pressure in recent months over its handling of content including explicit images, threats, violence and so-called 'revenge porn'.

The phenomena means that naked or explicit pictures are posted online without a person's permission, using them as a form of 'shaming' or 'revenge' against the victim.

Revenge

There was consternation last year when Facebook asked users to send the company their nude photos in an effort to tackle revenge porn, an attempt to give some control back to those who have suffered the consequences of being put through such an ordeal.

Users could send the images to be "hashed" - meaning the image in question can be identified and blocked from future uploads. Facebook is piloting the technology in Australia.

But earlier in the year the social network faced criticism after removing the famous image of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack during the Vietnam war.

Irish Independent

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