Facebook claims post allegedly defaming former TD has been permanently deleted

The court heard an internal investigation at Facebook Ireland tried to locate the post or who was responsible for it but was unable to do so.
Facebook claims post allegedly defaming former TD has been permanently deleted

Frank O'Rourke TD claims wholly untrue statements posted about him on social media last February were designed "to cause maximum professional damage to me" in the 2020 General Election, at a time when he was going through "a difficult marriage breakdown."

Facebook has told the High Court a post which former Fianna Fáil TD Frank O'Rourke had claimed defamed him last year has been permanently deleted and can’t be located.

An internal investigation at Facebook Ireland, Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was today told, attempted to locate the post or who was responsible for it but was unable to do so.

Facebook’s counsel Rossa Fanning SC told the High Court it appears the post made in February last year was permanently deleted from the Facebook platform and it is not possible to retrieve a record of it.

“We believe the post was permanently deleted. We can’t find it. Any attempt to identify the poster would be a speculative exercise,” Counsel said.

Mr O’Rourke has gone to court seeking an order requiring Facebook to provide details of an account which he claims was responsible for a social media post which allegedly defamed him.

In separate actions against Twitter International Company and Facebook Ireland Ltd, Mr O’Rourke required details so he can identify the posters so he can sue them for defamation.

He seeks details including the account holders' names and email and IP addresses. Mr O'Rourke previously secured orders against Twitter and Ms Justice Reynolds was today told by Mr O’Rourke’s counsel, Declan Doyle SC, his side had obtained the identity of somebody who may have posted or retweeted a matter on Twitter.

Representing Fianna Fáil, Mr O'Rourke of Dublin Road, Celbridge was elected as TD for North Kildare in 2016. In last year’s election he lost his seat after finishing fifth in the four-seater constituency.

He claims wholly untrue statements posted about him on social media last February were designed "to cause maximum professional damage to me" in the 2020 General Election, at a time when he was going through "a difficult marriage breakdown."

He claims that members of the public told him that they had seen "horrible stuff" about him on social media and that his political supporters received "negative feedback on the doorsteps of North Kildare" following the publication of the comments.

He also alleges that untrue posts were made on Facebook pages associated with the Celbridge area about his family life and his personal financial matters which were designed to show that he was unfit to serve in Dáil Eireann.

He further claims that a tweet put out shortly before the election which called on people not to vote for him, also contained untrue and defamatory statements about his personal life.

In the High Court today, Mr Doyle SC said Mr O’Rourke had complained about the post on Facebook within 24 hours of it going up.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds granted an order directing Facebook to give all details of the Facebook account where the alleged post is believed to have come from to Mr O’Rourke’s side. If Facebook can’t provide the information the judge said it can set out on affidavit any difficulties it has in complying with the court order.

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