Woman sues Facebook over hacking of her account

Sylvia O’Mahoney was locked out of profile after messages she didn’t write were sent from it

A Dublin woman has brought High Court proceedings against Facebook after a hacker took over her account and locked her out of it.

Sylvia O'Mahoney, Brighton Place, Foxrock, claims she first became aware of the hack in mid-December when her social media contacts started receiving messages from her account that she had not sent.

Facebook accepts her account was hacked but says it moved quickly to restore full control to her, and all information she had sought concerning the hack had been provided to her.

The company's counsel Rossa Fanning SC told the court that Facebook, like all other internet and e-commerce entities, has issues with online security. There was no evidence before the court that Facebook could be held culpable for accounts being hacked, he said.


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

In a sworn statement, she said her friends started getting messages from her account, including invitations to like the business page of a decking company.

Her name profile changed to another name instead of Sylvia O’Mahoney and she was concerned about the nature of some of 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.

Right to privacy

She followed instructions, including uploading picture ID, on at least two occasions, but claims she got messages back in Chinese saying her issue had been resolved, when it had not.

As a result, she has brought proceedings against Facebook claiming her constitutional right to privacy and GDPR rights have been breached. Ms O’Mahoney has brought proceedings against Facebook Ireland Ltd seeking orders including mandatory injunctions.

The injunctions would require Facebook to prevent the other person using or accessing Ms O’Mahoney’s account, and any information originating from the account.

She also seeks orders requiring Facebook to retrieve and return any data taken from Ms O’Mahoney’s account by the hacker, and providing her with all the activity on her account from January 1st last.

When the matter came before the High Court on Wednesday, Ms O'Mahoney's counsel Jack Fitzgerald SC said the matter was become even more urgent.

Personal data

As well as her concerns about her personal data, his client had discovered in recent days her account had been linked to many entities and groups that had nothing to do with her. She did not want to delete her account as she wants to keep evidence of the wrong doing, he said.

However, due to the recent revelations regarding her account she had to amend her action and some direct contact with Facebook regarding her concerns would be beneficial in resolving the matters, he said Mr Fanning said his client had been concentrating on dealing with the issues raised rather than preparing sworn documents for court proceedings.

Facebook had sent out two letters to Mr O’Mahoney’s solicitors stating, once it was established the account was hacked, access was restored to Ms O’Mahoney within two business days.

An online meeting with Facebook’s representatives with Ms O’Mahoney had been also taken place, counsel said.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds adjourned the matter to early February to allow the sides exchange documents.