A business whose personal details were falsely entered on Facebook, the social networking website, has won substantial libel damages at the High Court.
Mathew Firsht won £22,000 in damages against an old school friend, Grant Raphael, who created the false entries.
The judge ruled that Raphael’s defence – that the entry was created by people who had gate-crashed his flat – was untrue. The profiles were on Facebook for 16 days until they were taken down.
Firsht accused Raphael of creating a false personal profile, and a company profile called “Has Mathew Firsht lied to you?”.
Raphael said people who were at a party at Firsht’s north London house in Hamstead had dashed off to a bedroom and made the false profiles.
Deputy Judge Richard Parkes QC said his claim as “utterly far-fetched”.
The judge heard that the misleading entries provided false details about Firsht’s whereabouts, activities, birthday and relationship status. It falsely indicated his sexual orientation and political views.
Media lawyer, Jo Sanders, of Harbottle & Lewis, said the ruling would change the way in which people viewed social networking sites.
“The significance of this case is that it shows that what you post is not harmless, but has consequences,” she said.
“Sat at home or school or in the office, it’s easy to think of social networking sites as harmless fun, that it’s like chatting with friends, and that things posted there are either a joke or just a mischievous way of causing embarrassment. This ruling puts an end to that.”