Bid to reveal 'Facebook flags threats' ID

Published Monday, 28 January 2013
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Legal attempts will be made to discover the identity of those who allegedly threatened a Catholic man on Facebook pages linked to loyalist flag protests, the High Court has heard.

Bid to reveal 'Facebook flags threats' ID
Loyalist protesters converge on Belfast City Hall last month. (© Pacemaker)

A judge was told his lawyers want information about people who posted and operated the content on the social networking giant.

Facebook removed two pages last week after the man's legal team secured a court order.

The pages, Loyalists against Short Strand, and Loyalist Peaceful Protests Updater, had provided information on street protests being held across Northern Ireland.

Demonstrations have continued for eight weeks since the decision to restrict the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall.

More than 100 police officers have been injured in rioting which has erupted after the protests.

The man allegedly targeted on the pages, referred to only as J18 in High Court proceedings, was granted an emergency injunction against Facebook due to the perceived gravity of the threat.

With the pages now taken down, the judge who made the order was given an update on the case on Monday.

Mr Justice Deeny told both sides he had granted the application because of the circumstances outlined to him.

"There was an imminent risk of serious injury," he said.

According to Peter Hopkins, for Facebook Ireland Ltd, the pages' suspension has taken the urgency out of the case.

But he reserved his client's position on whether the final remedy should be shutdown of the entire pages or just removal of the offending content.

Referring to the plaintiff's position, Mr Hopkins added: "I understand my friend wishes to seek discovery of certain information in relation to those users who posted content and operated the pages.

"Indeed Facebook takes the view those are the persons where the primary responsibility should rest."

It is the second time the social media operator has come before the High Court in the last two months.

In November, a convicted child sex offender won a landmark case forcing Facebook to take down a page monitoring paedophiles in Northern Ireland.

He is now seeking damages in an action due to be heard in March.

Mr Justice Deeny confirmed that J18's case will also now be transferred over to the judge handling those proceedings.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Realist in England wrote (729 days ago):
To be honest, I don't see what the issue is here - if people have used social media to threaten someone, then they should be treated the same as if they had sent a letter, made a phonecall or done it in person. As in the other cases, if someone complains, the police should use their powers to investigate and prosecute those who have broken the law. Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen.
Alan, UK in London, UK wrote (729 days ago):
More shame tread upon our flag by these chav style undesirables in Northern Ireland who can't even get it the right way up. An affront to Queen & Country.
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