Northern Ireland

Teenage girl's father launches Facebook court challenge


A Northern Ireland man has launched a legal challenge to compel Facebook to stop his teenage daughter using the site or publishing suggestive images.

The social media company should be forced to do more to stop the 13-year-old girl having highly sexualised contact with men, the High Court heard.

The case could have major implications for Facebook in the UK.

If the girl's father wins, it could make it much harder for children to use the social networking site.

In court on Wednesday, a lawyer for the girl's father claimed Facebook's open registration system allowed children to log-in and warned that it could put them at risk from paedophiles.

Under Facebook's policy, no-one under 13 is allowed to use the site. But the girl from Northern Ireland, who is subject to a care order, has reportedly posted suggestive images of herself on it since she was 12.

She has used up to four different accounts on the site and has been in contact with a man who is restrained from any contact with her, the court sitting in Belfast heard on Wednesday.

Her father's lawyers want to secure an injunction compelling Facebook to take steps to prevent her using the site or publishing images.

A barrister claimed there had been a breach of her privacy. He argued that her highly sexualised contact with men on the site was degrading, abusive and harassing.

He said that Facebook's open registration system was flawed because 13-year-olds cannot enter a contract or legally consent to their data being used.

Even younger children could claim to be the required age and give themselves a fake name, the lawyer argued.

He said Facebook could change its terms of registration to require users to verify their identity and age.

A judge is to deliver his decision on whether to grant the injunction later this week.

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