Dublin woman’s action over hack of Facebook account settled

Sylvia O’Mahoney took case after friends were invited to like decking company’s page

In her action, Sylvia O’Mahoney claimed she first became aware of the hack in mid-December 2020 when her social media contacts started receiving messages from her account that she did not send.  File photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

In her action, Sylvia O’Mahoney claimed she first became aware of the hack in mid-December 2020 when her social media contacts started receiving messages from her account that she did not send. File photograph: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

 

A High Court action brought by a Dublin woman against Facebook after a hacker took over and locked her out of her account has been resolved.

Sylvia O’Mahoney claimed her constitutional right to privacy and GDPR rights had been breached.

Ms O’Mahoney, from Brighton Place, Foxrock, Co Dublin, had also sought injunctions requiring Facebook Ireland Ltd to retrieve from the hacker, and return to her, any data taken from her account, and providing her with all the activity on her account from January 1st.

The action was opposed by Facebook, which denied all the claims made against it. It accepted her account was hacked but argued it moved quickly to restore full control to her. It also said all information she had sought concerning the hack had been provided to her.

Ms O’Mahoney’s action was launched in January and was mentioned before the High Court on several subsequent occasions.

In court on Thursday, Ms O’Mahoney’s counsel Jack Fitzgerald SC told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds the matter had been resolved and could be struck out. Rossa Fanning SC, for Facebook, said it was consenting to the strike out.

No details of the terms of settlement, understood to be confidential, were given to the court.

In her action, Ms O’Mahoney claimed she first became aware of the hack in mid-December 2020 when her social media contacts started receiving messages from her account that she did not send.

Ms O’Mahoney, who had a Facebook account for many years, claimed, after becoming aware messages were being sent from her account, she tried to change her password on her account. She said she was unable to do so and was denied access to her account.

In a sworn statement to the court, she said her friends started getting messages from her account, including invitations to like the business page of a decking company. Her name profile also changed to a “Luo Yihan” instead of Sylvia O’Mahoney, and she was concerned about some of the content of the messages.

She reported this through Facebook’s automated complaints system due to her concerns about the unknown person’s access to her private information, including photos and personal messages. She followed the instructions, including uploading picture ID, on at least two occasions, but claimed she only got messages back in Chinese saying her issue had been resolved when it had not.

In reply, Facebook said like all other internet and e-commerce entities, it has issues with online security, and it had taken steps to address her complaints within days of becoming aware of the problem.

Facebook also said was no evidence before the court that it could be held culpable for accounts being hacked.