Legal Updates

Using a fictitious Facebook profile creates a liability for the person who activated the profile

November 24, 2020

A fictitious figure named "Lizzie Harel" posted a false post on Facebook about a survey conducted by IKEA employees and showed that some computer sale chain gives poor service. After IKEA reported that no one with that name works therein; That the company has never conducted a survey as described in the publication; and that IKEA has nothing to do with advertising; the chain conducted an investigation that showed that the publication was done from a specific IP address and by a specific person. A police investigation was discontinues due to lack of evidence.
The Court held that the publication constituted defamation by the person behind the fictitious profile. The Defamation Prohibition Act protects both individuals and companies. Here, circumstantial evidence (including the same person's access to the IP address, use of the Facebook profile in the past to promote the same person’s business and the person’s sharing of posts of the same profile) shows that the same person controls the fictitious profile. The publication was intended to convince others of the poor service provided by the chain, thus discouraging them from doing business with the chain and therefore constitutes defamation. However, although the means chosen to persuade people not to do business with the network is fictitious research and done under a fictitious name, in order to disguise the true identity of the person behind it, and although the advertising has high potential for harm, after the Court noted the content of the publication and its publication in a highly viral network, a relatively negligible amount of compensation of ILS 20,000 was ordered.