Social media influencer seeks to identify people behind ‘damaging’ troll accounts

Lisa McGowan claims she has been subjected to online bullying and stalking in Tullamore

A social media influencer claims she is being “trolled, defamed and stalked” on platforms including Facebook and Instagram by anonymous posters.

Lisa McGowan, who runs the ‘Lisa’s Lust List’ website, claims she and her business are the subject of online harassment by unknown parties. She has started a High Court action aimed at helping her to identify who is behind the posts.

The fashion blogger says her website promotes various products including clothing, beauty, health, travel and homeware items mainly produced by Irish-based enterprises. She has 300,000 followers on social media.

Ms McGowan, from Tullamore in Co Offaly, started this work after winning the best dressed lady competition at the Galway Races in 2016.

She claims that she, and members of her family, have recently been subjected to online bullying, trolling and harassment by anonymous posters on various social media platforms.

The posts, she alleges, contain untrue, personal and highly defamatory comments about her that are “extremely damaging” to her and her business. She also said some posts falsely accuse her of being involved in criminal and fraudulent behaviour and that the publication of these comments is “designed solely to inflict reputation and financial damage” on her and her firm.

Represented by Matthew Jolley BL, Ms McGowan and Lisa’s Lust List Limited are seeking to find out the names of those persons behind the posts in order to stop the alleged abuse and harassment.

‘Negative commentary’

Counsel said that given the nature of Ms McGowan’s business “a certain amount of negative commentary is to be expected”.

He said that posters seem to know when Ms McGowan is on the premises of her family’s insurance brokerage, where she works part time. It is claimed that this monitoring of her movements amounts to stalking.

In addition, untraceable and unknown parties have made phone calls to her family business asking to speak to Ms McGowan or her father.

Ms McGowan has reported this activity to the Garda and has hired a private investigator and an IT expert to help find out who is responsible. The blogger wishes to take proceedings against those who are seeking to damage her good name and “intentionally hurt her”, counsel said.

A court order known as a ‘Norwich Pharmacal’ is being sought by Ms McGowan and this would require Facebook Ireland Ltd to provide her with the details it has in relation to the accounts making the posts about her. The details include names, postal addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses linked to the users.

The user names of the accounts in question are ‘contigo’ and ‘sickofthem’ on Facebook and Instagram platforms, and all the contributors of the Instagram page ‘mas_on_amission’.

The application came before Mr Justice Anthony Barr, on an ex-parte basis, during Thursday’s vacation sitting of the High Court. He said he was satisfied to grant the applicants permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on Facebook Ireland and made the matter returnable to a date next week.