A couple from County Donegal have been awarded a total of €32,500 compensation for Facebook defamation at a hearing of the Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court.
The couple made their claim for Facebook defamation compensation after comments were placed on both their personal and business Facebook pages by their neighbour. The posts made on 5th and 6th February 2015 claimed that the female partner in the relationship was overweight, and the male partner was having an affair.
The couple took screenshots of the posts before deleting them, and then reported the offense to the gardaí. The couple also sought legal advice and claimed compensation for Facebook defamation against their neighbour. The neighbour admitted posting the defamatory comments, and a hearing was scheduled at the Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court for the assessment of damages.
At the hearing before Judge James O´Donoghue, an apology from the neighbour was read to the couple. In the apology, the neighbour admitted that the Facebook postings were “irresponsible and false” and an unjust attack on their reputation. The neighbour added he was ashamed and embarrassed by the harm he had caused them, and had “no rational explanation for the posting of the comments”.
Judge O´Donoghue was told that the couple had to explain to their fifteen-year-old children that the defamatory comments were not true, and that the couple´s business had lost clients because of the embarrassment that the postings had caused. Having reviewed the posts, the judge described them as “scurrilous and reckless”.
Awarding the couple €32,500 compensation for Facebook defamation, Judge O´Donoghue issued a warning about inappropriate Facebook posts. He said: “People perhaps with alcohol late at night can post these remarks and injure people’s character. It is a highly dangerous activity and can result in long term hurt to families and people’s good names and this is an example of that.”