High Court reporters
An Instagram account that has been posting “fake and defamatory” and altered sexualised images in an attempt to extort payment from a third-level student has been disabled, the High Court has heard.
Last week, lawyers representing the student, who cannot be identified by order of the court, sought various orders against Meta Platforms Ireland Limited, including an injunction restraining it from publishing any further statements about him on the account in question.
Mr Justice Brian O’Moore granted the student, represented by John Temple Bl, permission to serve notice of the injunction application on Meta, which owns Instagram.
When the matter briefly returned before the court on Monday, the judge was told that lawyers for the social media platform had informed the student that following an investigation the account in question had been compromised.
A&L Goodbody solicitors, for Meta, also stated the account complained of was being operated by an unnamed third party, other than the account holder.
Arising out of an investigation that was commenced after it received the student’s complaint last month, Meta’s lawyers added the account had been temporarily suspended, but later cleared, after undergoing what the social media platform called a “checkpoint”.
Following further investigation Meta said it deemed it was appropriate to disable the account.
In relation to the student’s proceedings, aimed at preventing all image distribution in relation to them, Meta said legally it must be placed on notice of any specific unlawful content placed on its platforms.
This would allow it to locate such content and take appropriate action against it, the letter also stated.
Mr Temple accepted before the court that the response had taken some of the heat out of the action. However, counsel asked the court to adjourn the proceedings for a week, to allow his client to fully consider Meta’s response.
Mr Justice O’Moore consented to the adjournment.
In his action the student claims his image, alongside one of male genitalia that are not his, has been sent by the account holder to various contacts and followers of his social media accounts.
The student says he also received a message from the account user, which he had connected with sometime earlier this year thinking it might be somebody he knew, demanding that he pay them or else the account holder was going to send what were described as “nudes” to all his Instagram and Snapchat contacts.
The court heard the account holder informed the student in a message that he should “make a payment” and “co-operate” or else the account user would “ruin your life and make sure this goes viral”. If he failed to comply, he was told by the user that they were: “Gonna make your life miserable.”
The student said that after he blocked the account he recovered several communications from persons on his contact list, including contacts at the college he attends, after they were sent the images by the account.
The student, who did not pay the blackmailer, claims he made a complaint to Meta about the posts in an attempt to have the material about him removed.
However, he claims Meta has not taken any action in relation to the account and in a response to the student said that the matters complained do not breach Instagram’s ‘Community Guidelines’.
The student claims he has been defamed in the posts and that the sharing of the false images has caused him great upset and distress.
The student has also reported the matter to gardaí, who are investigating his complaints.