An Irishman who was instrumental in bringing Hollywood actor George Clooney to Ireland for the first time claims his business has been the target of hackers since the actor’s visit.
Andy Ring, who met with the 58-year-old actor at the five-star hotel, Ballyfin House in Co Laois over Easter, along with the actor’s Irish relatives, explained that the Facebook page of his business, Irish Heritage Towns has been and it’s proving impossible to contact the social media giant.
When pictures of African elephants and exotic snakes started to appear on the Facebook page about Irish Heritage Towns, he realised he'd been hacked. He claims his business is suffering as a result of inaction by the company.
The planned Clooney family get together was organised by George’s parents.
His wife, human rights lawyer Amal, and two-year-old twins Alexander and Ella accompanied him.
Mr Ring said: “I’m completely frustrated. The Facebook page which has 53,000 likes continues to remain hacked. It was immediately hacked after I posted photographs of George Clooney with his Irish relatives and myself.
The tourism industry is so big and competitive that I needed to set-up this Facebook. So far, analysis of the Facebook page, shows it has 75% reach into the United States and this hacking episode is really, really affecting my business and destroying it.
“I just cannot contact Facebook despite numerous efforts to do so. I’ve no control over what’s happening. There are posts going up there of elephants and snakes that have nothing to do with my business. My business is about promoting Ireland not about animals and Africa.
“I honestly believe that a company should not be allowed to trade if you cannot contact them. I’ve tried for the past several weeks to reach them and all I get are standard answers to questions.
But my problem doesn’t relate to any of their answers despite numerous emails etc. I don’t think those hacking me are making money out of it.
“I’m adamant that the hacking only took place after I met with George and I just don’t understand why they won’t come back to me. I’m thinking about actually writing to Facebook in a bid to make some sort of contact which is unreal really as they are in the fast-moving social media industry.”
Mr Ring even went on RTE'shosted by Joe Duffy to vent his anger at the hackers and Facebook management.
In 2005 an American genealogist discovered George Clooney’s Irish roots in Windgap, Co Kilkenny and Abbeyleix, Co Laois resulting in his parents visiting 12 years ago.
The Clooneys have Irish heritage on both sides of the family, though most significantly on the paternal side.
His father’s great-great-grandfather Nicholas Clooney, emigrated to the US from Co Kilkenny. George's relative, Sarah Clooney, who was born in Abbeyleix and died a few years ago, worked in a factory also in the town, which made carpets for the Titanic.
Efforts to contact Facebook independently have been made. A comment is still being awaited.