A High Court in Northern Ireland has held Facebook and Joe McCloskey, the paedophile monitoring Facebook page operator, guilty of breaching the privacy of a convicted child abuser.
McCloskey operated a Facebook page called ‘Keeping Our Kids Safe From Predators 2′ with the purpose of naming and shaming child abusers in public and acting as a deterrent for such acts. The judge held McCloskey equally liable for misusing private information and ordered the closure of the Facebook page.
A man identified as CG was released from prison in 2012 after serving a sentence for child abuse and has remained under supervision of the authorities ever since. CG filed a privacy action suit claiming harassment, violation of his right to privacy and breaches of the Data Protection Act against Facebook and McCloskey after his photograph and details appeared on the site in 2013.
According to CG’s plea, after McCloskey’s post, he was bombarded with abusive comments and rants and was threatened with execution. Justice Stephens ordered Facebook to pay £20,000 ($30000) in damages to CG.
CG’s lawyers argued that McCloskey’s Facebook page was nothing but vigilantism. McCloskey, however, told the court that he was doing public service and had named and shamed 400 such paedophiles through his Facebook page.
Judge Stephens thought otherwise and held that McCloskey set up the Facebook page to “destroy the family life of sex offenders, to expose them to total humiliation and vilification, to drive them from their homes and to expose them to the risk of serious harm. He knowingly encourages harassment of sex offenders by other individuals by the comments he makes and by the aim and purpose of the profile/page”.
This is the first time Facebook has been made party to a page operated by its user and held guilty on that count.