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Facebook hands over IDs of 51 users in RTE star Miriam's 'skincare scammers' court case


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Facebook's Dublin office

Facebook's Dublin office

Facebook's Dublin office

More than 50 new defendants, mainly from Eastern Europe, have been added to a legal action Miriam O'Callaghan is taking against Facebook over alleged defamatory adverts.

The defendants, many of whom are Estonian, were included in the High Court case after the television presenter secured an order requiring the social media giant to provide information which would assist in their identification.

Ms O'Callaghan (60) has alleged false and malicious adverts containing her image and name appeared on Facebook and Instagram in May 2018, wrongly suggesting she had left her job with RTE's Prime Time to promote skincare products.

Identities

Users who clicked on links to avail of "free trials" for the products are said to have reported having unauthorised debits taken from their bank accounts.

Those behind the alleged scam were unknown when the case was initially filed in March last year.

However, a total of 51 new defendants were added after information was provided by Facebook, which owns Instagram.

This happened after the television presenter, who is being represented by solicitor Paul Tweed, secured what is known as a Norwich Pharmacal order.

This requires a third party, in this case Facebook, to disclose the identity of an unknown wrongdoer, having somehow been mixed up in the wrongdoing.

Under the order, Facebook had to give Ms O'Callaghan's lawyers basic subscriber information, payment method details and business manager account information about those behind the adverts.

The case is due back before the High Court later this month.

Ms O'Callaghan has a motion seeking for Facebook to produce its defence, which has yet to be filed.

She has claimed the adverts exploited the trust placed in her by the Irish public and damaged her good name and reputation.

In the proceedings she is seeking a permanent injunction restraining publication of the adverts and damages for malicious falsehood, unlawful appropriation of personality, breaches of her constitutional rights and defamation.

The case is one of several where Facebook has figured as a defendant in the Irish courts in recent times.

The social media company has its international headquarters in Dublin.

The most recent lawsuit was initiated on Tuesday by French luxury goods conglomerate Cartier.

No papers have been filed as of yet in that case, but it is understood to relate to posts that allegedly advertised counterfeited goods.