SOCIAL networking site Facebook has been given 72 hours to remove a page set up to monitor paedophiles in Northern Ireland.
It follows a case brought by a convicted sex offender whose picture and details were posted on the internet page ‘Keeping our kids safe from predators’.
A High Court judge ruled on Friday that some of the content amounted to harassment of the man and risked infringing his human rights.
Mr Justice McCloskey said: “Society has dealt with the plaintiff in accordance with the rule of law.
“He has been punished by incarceration and he is subject to substantial daily restrictions on his lifestyle.”
The man, who cannot be identified, was given a six year jail sentence for a string of child sex offences committed more than two decades ago.
He was convicted of multiple counts of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency.
The man, known only as XY, issued proceedings against the social networking site after discovering his photograph and threatening comments posted on the page.
He claimed harassment, misuse of private information, and a breach of his right to privacy and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.
The court head that he fears being attacked or burnt out of his rented accommodation.
In a statement he described the published material as an attempt to vilify and stir up hatred against him.
Details were disclosed of some of the comments posted about him since his case against Facebook Ireland Ltd gained publicity.
One said: “So the man, or I mean mess of a human being, that’s taken this page to court, he must want to be the head paedophile and rule over all sex offenders. He will be like a god to them.”
Another stated: “Put him down like an animal.”
It was also set out how he is suffering from ill health, including regular dialysis treatment.
Although Facebook has already removed his photo and comments made about the man, his legal team insisted the page should be shut down down.
They are also seeking disclosure of the identity of those who set up and ran it.
Lawyers for Facebook argued that it was neither necessary nor proportionate to remove a page used by 4,000 people.
However, balancing the competing rights to privacy and freedom of expression, Mr Justice McCloskey ruled in favour of the plaintiff.
He pointed out that only interim relief was being sought at this stage, and that granting it would cause minimal disruption to Facebook.
“I conclude that the pendulum of the rule of law swings in the plaintiff’s favour,” the judge said.
“The order of the court will be that the removal from facebook.com of the page entitled ‘Keeping our kids safe from predators’… is to be effected within 72 hours.”