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Irish High Court rules: no duty on Facebook to remove defamatory material

Fred Muwema v Facebook Ireland Limited [2016] IEHC519

The High Court of Ireland ordered Facebook to disclose the identity and location of an individual who was operating a page containing defamatory content.  However, it did not grant injunctions requiring Facebook either to remove the posts or to prevent the material in them from being re-posted, given that the defendant could rely on statutory defences.

The case was brought by a Ugandan solicitor against Facebook Ireland Ltd.  He argued that the articles posted were false, scurrilous and defamatory, alleging that he had accepted bribes to the value of USD260,000, that he staged a break-in into his own law firm premises to jeopardise a presidential election and petition, and that he was under constant guard by armed forces. 

Justice Binchy took the view that the application should be refused as it would serve no useful purpose, given the availability of publications repeating the same material elsewhere on the internet.  He stated that, ‘persons whose reputations are seriously damaged by anonymous and untrue internet postings may be left without any legal remedy against the site hosting the publication, even in the most flagrant of cases.’

Read Inforrm article here.