/ July 24, 2008

Libel Lawsuit Rules Facebook Is Not A Joke

Facebook is making headlines this week as it introduces the latest version of its social networking platform but today we’re focusing on the gavel that has fallen on a libel case just across the pond. Mathew Firsht and Grant Raphael faced off in court just outside London recently on the grounds that Raphael had created a Facebook page in Firsht’s name in order to damage his reputation. Former school mates, and coworkers at one point, Raphael knew enough about Firsht to create the believable profile and add a few fallacies after a business disagreement. Firsht, who depends heavily on his reputation in his work as a production coordinator of tv audiences, claimed such a profile could severely damage his business and sought monetary compensation for the profile he considered libel. The judge in the case sided with Firsht and chose to overlook Raphael’s rather weak plea that the profile was created by visitors to his apartment without his knowledge. Considering the pairs history, the judge quickly ruled in favor of Mr. Firsht determining he was entitled to close to $35,000 in damages.

False profiles have become common on many social networks and with a rising prevalence of identity theft, the public is faced with the scary thought that you can become whoever you want on the internet with relatively no questions asked. The introduction of the new Facebook means that the many critics of social networks are temporarily appeased. Top executives for the company convinced their audiences that new controls will make the service more user friendly and less likely to leak unwanted information throughout the world wide web. Additional features include opt-in programs for connecting your Facebook profile to outside web pages allowing you to share with friends just what you’re getting into, as well as improved applications through increased regulations on who gets to publish them. For a more detailed look at the Facebook upgrades, check out the New York Times article covering the latest F8 conference.

Taking this case into consideration, it seems that the only feature Facebook is leaving out is a new user screening process to ensure you’re really who you say you are. On the other hand, invasive background checks for a social network? That doesn’t sound too appealing. Then again, neither does a court date.

Source: Times Online, New York Times

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