Gavin Duffy and Facebook resolve case over ads that claimed businessman was dead

Third-party ads on social media site also promoted false claims on cryptocurrency

Businessman Gavin Duffy. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Businessman Gavin Duffy. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Dragon’s Den millionaire Gavin Duffy and Facebook have resolved a case over social media ads that included false claims that Mr Duffy was dead.

The well-known media solicitor Paul Tweed, who is representing Mr Duffy, issued a “public statement” on Thursday afternoon saying the matter was now settled.

“Gavin Duffy and Facebook Ireland have resolved an issue regarding ads containing misleading and inaccurate statements about Mr Duffy which were published on Facebook by malicious third parties,” the two sides said in a statement issued on Mr Tweed’s Twitter account.

Previously Mr Duffy said that he was at his “wits’ end” over the advertisements, which were appearing on Facebook.

At first those behind the activity were issuing posts which, when clicked, brought readers to a fake news article claiming Mr Duffy had said he had incredible success investing in a cryptocurrency scheme.

Mr Duffy said he had never invested in a cryptocurrency and that he was concerned that some people could be fooled by the false endorsement and lose money investing in the scheme.

Earlier this year those behind the activity changed tack and posted on Facebook ads saying he was dead. “Tragic day in Ireland, we say farewell to Gavin Duffy,” an ad said about the businessman and former Irish presidential candidate.

Mr Duffy, through Mr Tweed, took action against Facebook. He complained that he had great difficulty persuading the social media giant to properly withdraw the ads.

On Thursday, however, the tweet from Mr Tweed made clear the case was resolved.

“Facebook Ireland puts significant resources towards tackling these kinds of ads,” the statement read.

“For the record Mr Duffy states and Facebook Ireland accepts that he has never traded, speculated or invested in any cryptocurrency, nor has he recommended anyone to do so,” it added.

“It’s important that ads on Facebook are useful to people and not used to promote deceptive behaviour, like using images of public figures to mislead people,” it said.

The statement added: “Mr Duffy and Facebook Ireland have also agreed to continue to work together to address any further misleading and inaccurate ads related to Mr Duffy in the event that such ads reappear on Facebook.”

Plenary summons

Meanwhile, the High Court in Dublin on Thursday issued a plenary summons against Google Ireland Limited in respect of a defamation action being taken on behalf of an international businessman by Mr Tweed.

Mr Tweed, who is involved in a number of cases against social media organisations, is representing businessman Kheir Allab, an Algerian who also holds French citizenship, who has allegedly been the subject over the past 16 months of defamatory videos broadcast on YouTube, which is owned by Google.

Mr Tweed said while some of the YouTube postings had been taken down some allegedly defamatory videos remained on the site.

Mr Tweed said his client did not wish to be involved in litigation but that he was so “frustrated” with Google he felt compelled to take the case.

The plenary summons required Google Ireland “to enter an appearance in person or by solicitor in the Central Office, Four Courts, Dublin in the above action within eight days after the summons has been served on you”.