Social media influencer secures court order over online ‘harassment’
Order requires Facebook to provide Lisa McGowan with details on account holders
Lisa McGowan, who runs the website Lisa’s Lust List. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The action against the social media giant was brought by Lisa McGowan, who runs the website Lisa’s Lust List.
She claims she and her business are the subject of online harassment and defamatory comments by parties, via social media accounts, whom she has been unable to identify.
In order to sue these posters for defamation she sought orders against Facebook Ireland Ltd, which she hopes will help her to identify the person or people behind certain posts on the Facebook and Instagram platforms.
At the High Court on Monday, Ms Justice Niamh Hyland said she was satisfied from the evidence put before the court that Ms McGowan was entitled to an order, known as a “Norwich Pharmacal” order.
The order requires Facebook Ireland Ltd to provide her with details the social media company has about account holders Ms McGowan claims are posting controversial posts about her.
The details include the account users’ identities, names, postal addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP address and internet service provider.
Matthew Jolley BL, instructed by John Connellan of Carley and Connellan solicitors for Ms McGowan, said discussions between the parties had resulted in an agreed form of wording for the order sought by his client.
In reply Rossa Fanning SC for Facebook said his side was “remaining neutral” in relation to Ms McGowan’s application, which he described as a classic “Norwich Pharmacal” order.
Counsel welcomed that Ms McGowan accepted that the posts complained of had nothing to do with his client, and added that Facebook would not be seeking its legal costs against her.
After making the order sought, Ms Justice Hyland adjourned the matter generally, with liberty to apply. The judge also made no order in relation to who should pay the legal costs of the action, meaning both sides will pay their own costs.
In a statement issued outside of court, Ms McGowan welcomed the judge’s decision to make the order.
Ms McGowan’s site specialises in promoting products including fashion items, beauty, health, travel and homeware, mainly produced by Irish-based small to medium-sized enterprises, and has 300,000 followers.
Ms McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, started her online promotional work after she won the best-dressed lady competition at the Galway Races in 2016.
In recent weeks she claims she and members of her family have been subjected to online bullying, trolling and harassment.
The publication of these comments, she claims, is “designed solely to inflict reputation and financial damage” on her and her firm.
She also claims she is the victim of what Mr Jolley told the High Court are “sinister posts” about her movements, that amount to stalking.
In addition to her intended defamation proceedings, Ms McGowan has also made a complaint about the posts to gardaí.